BOOK CLUB: Mum & Dad

Author: Joanna Trollope
ISBN: 978-1-5290-0339-0
Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan

This review may contain spoilers.

Joanna Trollope is a prolific and distinguished British writer, her latest offering Mum & Dad is the first of her books that I have read.

Mum & Dad explores the dynamics and tensions in families, exploring the assumptions we make about our parents, siblings and children’s lives based on what we think we know.

The story centres around Mum (Monica) and Dad (Gus), their three children, Sebastian, Katie and Jake and their respective families.

Gus and Monica relocated to a property in Spain 25 years ago where Gus planted a large number of Tempranillo vines and now wins many awards from wines made from the grapes.  Sebastian and Katie were left behind in boarding school, unhappily in Katie’s case, and the youngest child, and arguably Monica’s favorite, Jake was raised in Spain.

The children are now all adults, Sebastian is married to Anna and together, well perhaps more Anna than Seb, they run a cleaning business Profclean, they also have two teenage boys.  Katie is a successful solicitor, living with her partner Nic and their 3 children, Daisy, clever, slender and transitioning to adulthood with all the associated teenage angst and secrecy, middle child Marta nursing her own secrets, and youngest Florence, obsessed by food and more than a little precocious,  Jake has moved to England where he lives with his new wife Bella and their 18 month old daughter affectionately known as Mouse.

Then Gus experiences a severe stroke and suddenly the future of the vineyard is in doubt.  Jake steps up to support Monica and the vineyard, leaving Sebastian and Katie to work out how to traverse this new reality while at the same time dealing with old resentments and their own family issues. 

Will Jake’s actions save the vineyard, or destroy it? Who does Gus want to take over the vineyard from him? Will Katie and Monica resolve their communication difficulties? Can the family find a way forward that benefits them all?

Trollope’s characters are very real and most of us will be able to relate to one or more characters or family situations, you will feel the anguish of a parent dealing with a child’s mental illness, and the feeling of helplessness as you try to help them, relate to the person dealing with a lack of self confidence that impacts their ability to be who they really are, empathise with the frustration of a modern day woman dealing with the older generations belief that you did as your husband wanted or the person dealing with a partner who has big ideas, but bigger failings!

In addition to exploring the tensions within a modern family, Trollope invites us into life in rural Spain with an insight into the lives of Pilar, the domestic who effectively runs Gus and Monica’s household, and her family.

Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Macmillan books for the opportunity to read and review this fabulous book. I highly recommend it. 

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

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