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The Children

by Ann Leary

The Children by Ann Leary X
The Children by Ann Leary
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Katherine D. (Rochester, NY)

The Children
Here is the story of an "old" American dynasty. Told from the viewpoint of a step daughter, we are once again reminded of the puzzle of how roles assigned to us as children continue to affect us long after we are grown.

In this case, the children are separated into two distinct categories: biological children of the Patriarch, Whit Whitman, and step children of the same man. There is a clear disconnect between the bios and the steps. The former is way more than "average", and the latter way less than "average". This takes place at the Lake House which has sheltered many generations, a house which has smothered the aspirations of these step daughters, and from which the real Whitman sons and heirs choose to distance themselves.

As the story begins, the senior Whitman has died and left a an unbreakable trust to his sons. we are lulled by the uneventfulness of the beginning, and caught up abruptly by the addition of one new individual who cleverly and subliminally manages to reassign roles to all the children.

While this raises a gut reaction of unfairness, ultimately the dissolution of this family and its unwritten rules will be the saving grace so badly needed by the Whitman stepchildren and their mother. The reader is left with the guilty hope that Fate will prevail and that the perpetrator who seems to escape unscathed will meet justice in the near future.
Marci G. (Sicklerville, NJ)

Blended Family Dysfunction
We all have our family stories. Our world according to ourselves formed from family lore with our own personal twist. The setting is Lakeside Cottage, the ancestral home of The Whitman family.This story weaves a the tale of 2 families blended together by an affair. On the surface everything appears to have worked out well until a girl with her own agenda targets the favorite son and changes the course their family forever.
Christine B. (St. Paul, MN)

Family Circus
My goodness- what an interesting cast of characters! Ms. Leary introduces us to the inept and narcissistic widow- her two daughters, one a manic-depressive musical genius and the other an accomplished agoraphobic blog writer - the two step sons- one a wealthy family loner and the other the seemingly "perfect" son harboring a deep seated anger and resentment. Into this dysfunctional mix a philandering groundskeeper and the deviant and fraudulent fiance make their appearances. There are also moments of gentle humor and great sadness woven into this most entertaining family story. I would highly recommend it.
Power Reviewer
Susan R. (Julian, NC)

Family Saga
This is my first book by Ann Leary and after reading it, I plan to read her older books. I loved her characters - my favorites were Joan and Charlotte but all of the characters added to the story line. Joan and her two daughters were definitely quirky and that made the novel even more interesting and in parts very humorous.

When Whit Whitman died, he left his estate to his two begins to show cracks when Spin brings home his fiancee. Add in a caretaker who is having an affair with Charlotte and a thief in the neighborhood who breaks into houses to clean them and you have all the elements needed for a great read that you don't want to put down until the last page is read. Great story!
Janet R. (Visalia, CA)

The Children by Ann Leary
The Children is a humorous, wandering story of a family as it adjusts to the death of its patriarch, Whit Whitman. Each character is a little off-center, a little quirky. The plot meanders through the spring and summer leading up to one son's marriage. However, in the midst of this fun little saga, a malevolent shadow looms. The novel turns from tongue-in-check belly laughter into a thriller which goes second by second to its surprise conclusion. The characters are like my own siblings by the end of the story-a little off beat, a little contentious, but wholly developed individuals. The plot does digress at times to the point of distraction, but is an engaging, fully enjoyable adventure in the beautiful scenery of a lakeside in Connecticut. I had a hard time putting it down the weekend I read it. A delight!
Shirley L. (Norco, LA)

A Tender Family Story
When I reviewed Ann Leary's previous novel, The Good House, for BookBrowse in 2012, I gave it high marks. I enjoyed this book even more. Charlotte Maynard's voice was clear, poignant, humorous and brilliant. This novel, although set in rural northern Connecticut, was reminiscent of Ellen Gilchrist's southern novels. And that is quite a compliment.

Leary's characters are strong and well developed. This reader wishes she lived next door to them on that idyllic lake, even if that means being on the lookout for Mr. Clean.
Pam S. (Henderson, KY)

So good I finished in two days
I received this book on Monday evening and finished it Tuesday around noon. It was just that good. I loved being with this quirky family. Each is quite unique. The ending is a bit of a letdown but I couldn't wait to see how things were going to turn out. I have read Leary's The Good House but not her other novel. I am definitely going to do so now.
Jodi G. (Plymouth, MN)

Good story - but too much going on
Let me start by saying that I did like this book - as a nice holiday weekend read. I read it really quickly and it kept me interested. If it had stayed at that I think my review would have been better. But there were so many little storylines going on at once and it was hard to keep them straight at time and had to figure out why some of them were relevant. And most of them did not get developed enough to even get a feel for the character or the storyline (e.g. Perry and his family). I liked the main characters - Joan and Charlotte and Sally and Spin and Everett - and I thought the main storyline of how they came to be a family was really good and engaging. There was so much more that she could have done with those characters. I felt like the whole Laurel piece was odd and I felt like the way Spin flipped out at the end was not realistic and really kind of ruined the book for me. So if I take the book for what I thought it was initially then I think it was really good - but if I focus too much on everything she tried to cram into 250 pages then I think it is a little weak.


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