BookBrowse Reviews Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Second Honeymoon

A Novel

by Joanna Trollope

Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope X
Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2007, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


"A masterpiece of the mundane....modest and unerringly real....a love song to ordinary life." - Kirkus

From the book jacket: Ben is, at last, leaving home. At twenty-two, he’s the youngest of the family. His mother Edie, an actress, is distraught. His father Russell, a theatrical agent, is rather hoping to get his wife back, after decades of family life. His brother, Matthew, is wrestling with a relationship in which he achieves and earns less than his girlfriend. His sister Rosa is wrestling with debt, and the end of a turbulent love affair.  Meet the Boyd family and the empty nest, twenty-first-century style.

Comment: Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) enjoyed looking below the surface of domestic life to challenge assumptions.  His granddaughter, Joanna, carries on this tradition.  Her latest novel, Second Honeymoon (an ironic title), opens with the somewhat histrionic Edie surveying the empty room of her son, the last of her children to leave home, taking his mother's identity with him.  Edie's eternally patient husband, Russell, sees the removal of his last child as something of a relief, after all Ben is 22 years old and has only gone as far as Walthamstow, at the other end of the tube line, to live with his girlfriend in her mother's house.  Russell is looking forward to spending some time with his wife and, fantasizing about romance returning to their lives after an absence of almost three decades, urges her to adjust - but Edie, who had a lackluster acting career before starting to breed, doesn't want to adapt, as for too long motherhood has been her shelter from "not risking failure or disappointment".

Much to Russell's delight, Edie absentmindedly lands the role of Mrs Alving in a regional production of Ibsen's Ghosts.  However, Russell's hope that this will be a turning point for her is short lived;  the actor cast as Mrs Alving's son is a young man straight out of acting school who is both emotionally needy and in need of feeding up, and before we know it Edie has taken him under her wing and into her house, leaving Russell gasping with frustration.

Meanwhile, Edie and Russell's daughter Rosa, homeless, jobless, and up to her neck in debt having left her useless ex-boyfriend, asks her father if she can come home.  Russell initially turns her down, so she moves in with Edie's sister Vivien instead, who has troubles of her own, torn between allowing her despicable husband back into her life or standing firm.  

However, Russell's thin line of defense proves to be no match against the combined onslaught of his family.  Matt leaves his girlfriend because he is embarrassed to admit to her that he doesn't earn as much as she does; and Ben finds his girlfriend's mother's higher domestic standards hard to live with.  One by one the children scuttle for home, and his wife can't wait to return to her role as haphazard housekeeper. 

With the family home bursting at the seams with 6 adults in residence (2 parents, 3 children and one stray actor) Edie's wish has come true, but she, like her children, comes to realize that  it's not possible to  turn back the clock and recreate the happy chaotic family coherence they once enjoyed.  Worst of all, she can no longer solve all their problems and make everything right for them - there is no going back, only forward, and she, Russell, and the children must all find their own paths.

Sometimes at BookBrowse we're so busy seeking out books set in new and interesting locations or about unexplored topics that we overlook the tales set closer to home - the endless dramas of ordinary life that take place behind our own closed doors and those of our neighbors.  Joanna Trollope is the British doyenne of middle-class domestic drama, having explored marital breakdowns, adoption, step-parenting, and any number of other social dilemmas that make up modern-day family life, and Second Honeymoon is considered by critics to be one of her best books in years.

This review is from the March 8, 2007 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Courting Mr. Lincoln
    Courting Mr. Lincoln
    by Louis Bayard
    19 out of 21 of our First Impression Reviewers rated Louis Bayard's latest novel, Courting Mr. ...
  • Book Jacket
    Transcription
    by Kate Atkinson
    Over her two-decade-plus career, Kate Atkinson has reinvented herself as a writer several times by ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhalation
    Exhalation
    by Ted Chiang
    Exhalation is an assemblage of nine short stories and novellas written by Ted Chiang, a computer ...
  • Book Jacket: Disappearing Earth
    Disappearing Earth
    by Julia Phillips
    On the remote peninsula of Kamchatka—tucked away on the far eastern corner of Russia and ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Guest Book
    by Sarah Blake

    "An American epic in the truest sense…"
    Entertainment Weekly
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Women Rowing North
    by Mary Pipher

    The instant New York Times bestseller from the author of Reviving Ophelia.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Her Kind of Case
by Jeanne Winer

A highly-recommended emotion-filled legal drama with three starred reviews!

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Miracle Creek

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie...

A thrilling debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I T S Form O F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.