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Other People's Children

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For eight-year-old Rufus, life has become complicated. His mother and father, Josie and Tom, have divorced amicably enough, and are set to pursue their separate paths. But other people have had to become involved - like Matthew, who has just married Josie, and Elizabeth, Tom's new friend. And even worse, there are the other children - Matthew's three resentful teenagers, w For eight-year-old Rufus, life has become complicated. His mother and father, Josie and Tom, have divorced amicably enough, and are set to pursue their separate paths. But other people have had to become involved - like Matthew, who has just married Josie, and Elizabeth, Tom's new friend. And even worse, there are the other children - Matthew's three resentful teenagers, who have been conditioned by their own mother Nadine to hate Josie. Rufus is supposed to regard them as family now, although he doesn't see why he should. Most of the time Matthew's children live with Nadine, in a slum-like cottage in the depths of the country. Nadine is determined that they should hate their new life as much as she does. They come to their father for weekends, and make it clear how much they loathe their new stepmother. Rufus secretly prefers to be with his father in his quiet house in Bath, and realises that he does not necessarily hate the idea of a stepmother - not if she was like Elizabeth, sane and friendly and welcoming. But where other people's children are concerned, neat solutions seldom occur.


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For eight-year-old Rufus, life has become complicated. His mother and father, Josie and Tom, have divorced amicably enough, and are set to pursue their separate paths. But other people have had to become involved - like Matthew, who has just married Josie, and Elizabeth, Tom's new friend. And even worse, there are the other children - Matthew's three resentful teenagers, w For eight-year-old Rufus, life has become complicated. His mother and father, Josie and Tom, have divorced amicably enough, and are set to pursue their separate paths. But other people have had to become involved - like Matthew, who has just married Josie, and Elizabeth, Tom's new friend. And even worse, there are the other children - Matthew's three resentful teenagers, who have been conditioned by their own mother Nadine to hate Josie. Rufus is supposed to regard them as family now, although he doesn't see why he should. Most of the time Matthew's children live with Nadine, in a slum-like cottage in the depths of the country. Nadine is determined that they should hate their new life as much as she does. They come to their father for weekends, and make it clear how much they loathe their new stepmother. Rufus secretly prefers to be with his father in his quiet house in Bath, and realises that he does not necessarily hate the idea of a stepmother - not if she was like Elizabeth, sane and friendly and welcoming. But where other people's children are concerned, neat solutions seldom occur.

30 review for Other People's Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I have always enjoyed this author because she writes a good story and nothing is simple and/or straightforward in her books. The stories are a lot like real life with all its twists and turns. This book is about stepfamilies - the adults (parents, step-parents), all the various kids, dating someone with kids, the complicated relationships between all people involved, how hard it all is, the joys & love present, the compromises made, etc. Boy, oh boy, did it hit home for me being both a paren I have always enjoyed this author because she writes a good story and nothing is simple and/or straightforward in her books. The stories are a lot like real life with all its twists and turns. This book is about stepfamilies - the adults (parents, step-parents), all the various kids, dating someone with kids, the complicated relationships between all people involved, how hard it all is, the joys & love present, the compromises made, etc. Boy, oh boy, did it hit home for me being both a parent and a step-parent. I had to highlight passage after passage because the feelings/thoughts/observations were right on! Marrying a man with kids IS the HARDEST thing I ever done. You take on the man, his kids, his extended family, his ex, her extended family, her love relationships, any kids she has from men other than your husband, your kids, your extended family. The tangled web goes on & on and never stops.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    I have always loved (almost all of) Joanna Trollope's novels. And this is one of the best. She's great at exploring the perspectives of ALL people involved in blended families. My only reservation is that the two craziest characters are both women and the men are allowed to be much more normal. That said, if there is a character to be admired in this novel, it is also a woman.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    4.5 stars. My first Trollope and I was hooked from start to finish! The writing was elegant and captivating, making it an engaging read. And what impressed me most was how well the characters were constructed. I felt that I knew all the major characters, their strengths and weaknesses, fears and insecurities, individual quirks and uniquenesses, although there were more than ten of them, them as in the major characters. Plus I’ve always enjoyed reading books that expand my perspectives and stretc 4.5 stars. My first Trollope and I was hooked from start to finish! The writing was elegant and captivating, making it an engaging read. And what impressed me most was how well the characters were constructed. I felt that I knew all the major characters, their strengths and weaknesses, fears and insecurities, individual quirks and uniquenesses, although there were more than ten of them, them as in the major characters. Plus I’ve always enjoyed reading books that expand my perspectives and stretches my mind, and this is certainly one of them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sondra

    This is the story of two “blended” families told from the varying viewpoints of stepmothers, their children, and the men in their lives. The stepmothers bend over backwards trying to keep their families together, sacrificing their own needs to satisfy those of the stepchildren that have been thrust upon them by a second marriage. Sadly, these women receive little support from the men in their lives and even less from the children or the children’s biological moms. While reading Other People’s Ch This is the story of two “blended” families told from the varying viewpoints of stepmothers, their children, and the men in their lives. The stepmothers bend over backwards trying to keep their families together, sacrificing their own needs to satisfy those of the stepchildren that have been thrust upon them by a second marriage. Sadly, these women receive little support from the men in their lives and even less from the children or the children’s biological moms. While reading Other People’s Children, I found it difficult to sympathize with either of the stepmoms, simply because their infinite patience with their obnoxious stepkids smacked of the kind of self-inflicted desperation that has kept women in submissive roles for generations. At a time when women all over the world---or at least in the Western world---are asserting their rights to equality and respect at home and in the workplace, the stepmoms in Other Peoples’ Children seem terribly antiquated. Elizabeth, an independent and successful career woman who could easily thrive on her own without a man, allows herself to be disrespected time and again by her fiancé's grown daughter in the hope that her "love" for the girl’s cowardly father (Tom) is enough to overcome this obstacle in their relationship. Elizabeth’s passivity---or is it passive-aggressiveness?---made me so angry at times I wanted to throw the book down in disgust. (This of course is a good thing, because an author’s ability to provoke an emotional response in the reader is what makes for a compelling story.) When Elizabeth finally does see the light, she has waited far too long to do so. If I were in Elizabeth’s shoes, I would have called the “authorities” after the second incident and had the soon-to-be stepdaughter committed to a psychiatric hospital (which is clearly where she belonged), which would have given Elizabeth and Tom enough time to escape, without leaving a forwarding address, to Canada, the U.S., the South of France, or any of the other places where British people like to emigrate when things go badly at home. One of the most difficult tasks for an author is to write about ordinary people and ordinary situations and make them seem extraordinary, and this is something the author has accomplished very well in Other Peoples' Children. Despite my general dislike for most of its characters, I gave this book four stars because it is a well-written, absorbing read with believable characters, a compelling story-line, and situations we can all relate to, on both sides of the Atlantic.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Desislava

    That is really a very good story! The title itself implements what the story is about. Broken families, children involved.It is hard to try and make children happy, especially daughters with attitudes. The character I dislike. She is 25, overly insecure, jealous and possessive over her father and brother, acting as if she is a wife. She broke the relationships between her brother and his wife to be because of her influence as well as her father's wife to be. It is so sad that both men realized t That is really a very good story! The title itself implements what the story is about. Broken families, children involved.It is hard to try and make children happy, especially daughters with attitudes. The character I dislike. She is 25, overly insecure, jealous and possessive over her father and brother, acting as if she is a wife. She broke the relationships between her brother and his wife to be because of her influence as well as her father's wife to be. It is so sad that both men realized the truth about Dale after the women they loved left them. Why couldn't they speak to her when the time was right.This is how it is in real life too. You cant of course neglect your children but show them how it will be and as a grown up this is your choice.Two different families, two different relationships, two women having difficulties of their own, but there is always a solution, to stay with the man you love or leave and move on.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claire Gage

    This took me a long time to get into for obvious reason! It was amazingly written, I have step kids and was hooked on every line! The last 5 chapters had me crying, I could relate on every way! Well done Joanna Trollope

  7. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Akkerman

    'It's as if stepmothers have come to represent all the things we fear, most terribly, about motherhood gone wrong. We need mothers so badly, so deeply, that the idea of an unnatural mother is, literally, monstrous.' I had never heard of this book or its author when I picked it up off the lounge floor, caught in the throes of boredom last Sunday afternoon, and started reading. The characters were all introduced at once, so at first it was quite hard to keep track of who was who, especially wit 'It's as if stepmothers have come to represent all the things we fear, most terribly, about motherhood gone wrong. We need mothers so badly, so deeply, that the idea of an unnatural mother is, literally, monstrous.' I had never heard of this book or its author when I picked it up off the lounge floor, caught in the throes of boredom last Sunday afternoon, and started reading. The characters were all introduced at once, so at first it was quite hard to keep track of who was who, especially with such complicated family connections, but the unfolding drama was compelling enough to draw me in and as the story progressed I became more involved and wanted to know what would happen to the characters, and if a book like this could possibly have a happy ending. The blurb indicates that the main character is Rufus, but although he is a significant character (and likeable because of his maturity) I found that the focus was more on Josie, the new stepmother, and Elizabeth, perhaps a stepmother-to-be. My favourite character and the real heroine of this story, I feel, was Becky (believe it or not!). I applauded the choices she made at almost every turn and I loved how she grew through things and changed for the better. I was annoyed when (view spoiler)[we didn't find out what happened to Becky when she ran away. If I was a parent, I would have to know. My daughter wouldn't get away with keeping it a secret, because secrets are ultimately destructive. (hide spoiler)] Although there is nothing remarkable about her writing and she could have been much more in-depth, Joanna Trollope has the skill to create emotionally and psychologically complex characters, and that was enough to carry this story even without a strong plot or particularly descriptive prose. I really couldn't see how it would end, but it was a neat ending and (view spoiler)[most of the characters got what they deserved (hide spoiler)] . She also had something to say and said it without being too preachy, exploring family issues especially concerning broken families and step-children. Maybe intentionally and maybe not, the male characters were all portrayed as weak and the females as dramatic and over-emotional, and often the children came across as more grown-up than the adults. This could be very frustrating. An enjoyable and thought-provoking but quick read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    I have been reading Joanna Trollope's books for many many years; you know exactly what you will get - a story based on family life, centered on an upper-middle class family, where there isn't usually much 'plot' apart from the relationships between the characters and the issues that arise from this. So in that sense its a safe option - I know I will enjoy reading about these people, who's lives are very believable, similar to many people I know. Its like looking in a mirror I suppose, seeing how I have been reading Joanna Trollope's books for many many years; you know exactly what you will get - a story based on family life, centered on an upper-middle class family, where there isn't usually much 'plot' apart from the relationships between the characters and the issues that arise from this. So in that sense its a safe option - I know I will enjoy reading about these people, who's lives are very believable, similar to many people I know. Its like looking in a mirror I suppose, seeing how the characters deal with the issues life throws at them, and wondering if you would do any better! As someone who does live now with 'other people's child(ren)' I can affirm that the issues the book tackles are all too real, sometimes difficult, but also can be wonderfully rewarding when you manage to get things right. It was good to see the relationship between Josie and Becky gradually improving through the book (but sad to see other relationships failing). Such is life!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tess Mertens-Johnson

    The only mature adult in this book was Rufus, the eight year old boy. Families come in all different shapes and forms. This book follows a family broken up and how they try to move on, or not move on with their lives. Nadine is left by her husband Matthew for Josie, a younger woman. She takes her anger for her husband out on her children. Josie was also married and broke that marriage up for Matthew. Tom, her ex, was widowed when he married the much younger Josie. Tom has an adult daughter Dale wh The only mature adult in this book was Rufus, the eight year old boy. Families come in all different shapes and forms. This book follows a family broken up and how they try to move on, or not move on with their lives. Nadine is left by her husband Matthew for Josie, a younger woman. She takes her anger for her husband out on her children. Josie was also married and broke that marriage up for Matthew. Tom, her ex, was widowed when he married the much younger Josie. Tom has an adult daughter Dale who is the poster child fro Daddy's girl and destroys any relationship he tried to have with a woman., Elizabeth gave it all she could and left. I know life is not fun or easy and can be messy at times, but the adults in this book needed to take lessons from young Rufus..

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I've read most if not all of Joanna Trollope's books, so obviously I quite like her style and the kind of stores she tells. This is one of my favorites of her books, full of real-seeming people and smart observations about human behavior, and in particular, blended families. I was especially struck by the difficult mother who goes to such lengths to be a martyr and the another parent who seems strong but is actually terribly weak. Trollope does a terrific job depicting the subtle interplay betwe I've read most if not all of Joanna Trollope's books, so obviously I quite like her style and the kind of stores she tells. This is one of my favorites of her books, full of real-seeming people and smart observations about human behavior, and in particular, blended families. I was especially struck by the difficult mother who goes to such lengths to be a martyr and the another parent who seems strong but is actually terribly weak. Trollope does a terrific job depicting the subtle interplay between personalities.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I would rate this as 3.5 actually. Thought the complex emotions experienced by all characters in a split-family situation very true to life - except possibly for Dale who needed counselling. Tom felt he had to support his daughter in whatever way she elected, but the support should have been directed into professional counselling and strong loving advice from him, rather than letting her run his life, and so affect the happiness of Elizabeth, Rufus, Lucas and Amy as well as Tom.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    A fasinating book if you are in or thinking about getting involved in a second relationship. It describes perfectly the trials and torment that one goes through whilst trying to breakthough all the emotions involved. Lots of pain barriers and plots. Reading this book helped me realise I was not on my own and have passed the book on to several friends who are in the same position as I was.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane Croucher

    I like Joanna Trollope. As a dysfunctional, barren spinster the tales of the vagaries of family adult life seem far removed from my personal experience, so I approach them more as fantasy or science fiction. But with less hairy midgets like what they have in the Hobbit. Or robots.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aliya Steed

    Emotional but accurate portrayal of families struggling with divorce and stepfamily life, and the impact this has on kids. Wish the characters would get some basic counselling!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Heartbreakingly realistic, right down to the very words spoken. read it before you marry someone with children. Wish I had.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    An excellent novel, centred on "blended families", the problems and joys of step parenting and overcoming stereotypes about step mothers. An impossible task, as Elizabeth discovers in her relationship with Tom, the devastation suffered when a relationship breaks down, all of this adds up to a great read, complicated, dramatic, and impossible to understand, especially with stroppy teenagers at the heart of this, not to mention their mother, Nadine, who has her own emotional issues. I became engros An excellent novel, centred on "blended families", the problems and joys of step parenting and overcoming stereotypes about step mothers. An impossible task, as Elizabeth discovers in her relationship with Tom, the devastation suffered when a relationship breaks down, all of this adds up to a great read, complicated, dramatic, and impossible to understand, especially with stroppy teenagers at the heart of this, not to mention their mother, Nadine, who has her own emotional issues. I became engrossed, reading as the various tales knitted together and then unraveled. The characters were well rounded, understandable, and easy for the reader to feel compassion for in their personal difficulties. I liked Elizabeth and Josie I liked the teenagers, Matthew and Nadine's children, despite their behaving in a difficult way, being prone to tantrum, a lot of this was down to their loyalty to Nadine, who carried a lot of resentment. A difficult read at times, but there were moments of happiness as Rufus built up a relationship with Elizabeth (his father's fiance). Not the sort of book where there are neat, happy endings, but a great read for all that, as a family drama and a study of human nature. This is the first book I have read by Joanna Trollope, and I will be looking out for more. I can recommend this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Smith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Enjoyed the book. Read it quickly (one day) and enjoyed the concept. It was interesting to see the different dynamics of families. Was sad that it ended kind of abruptly. I wanted to find out what happen to certain characters. In particular tom and dale. Dale might be one of the most horrible non evil (Voldemort President Snow etc) character I have ever read about. She was selfish delusional and a brat. I wanted to find out if Tom finally confronted her or if it came to a head. Otherwise book wa Enjoyed the book. Read it quickly (one day) and enjoyed the concept. It was interesting to see the different dynamics of families. Was sad that it ended kind of abruptly. I wanted to find out what happen to certain characters. In particular tom and dale. Dale might be one of the most horrible non evil (Voldemort President Snow etc) character I have ever read about. She was selfish delusional and a brat. I wanted to find out if Tom finally confronted her or if it came to a head. Otherwise book was amusing just wish I was able to find out what happen to certain characters (Amy, Elizabeth, Ruffus).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sáng Nguyễn

    My first English book read ever. It was an amazing story about blended families and their effects on all involves. Love seems not enough to resolve problems of attitudes of all related people: stepdaughter, mother-in-law. Anyway, I love the way Elizabeth and Lucy had done to save her happiness. They loved the men so much but the obsession of the daughters about her mom and her possession to her father and brother was terrible to face. I also realized that fathers have love for their children as My first English book read ever. It was an amazing story about blended families and their effects on all involves. Love seems not enough to resolve problems of attitudes of all related people: stepdaughter, mother-in-law. Anyway, I love the way Elizabeth and Lucy had done to save her happiness. They loved the men so much but the obsession of the daughters about her mom and her possession to her father and brother was terrible to face. I also realized that fathers have love for their children as much as mothers. They just keep it inside.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan Austin

    Probably 2.5 stars. I don't know why people love Joanna Trollope. This is my first book of hers and I found it pretty contrived. Most of the characters were overdone and there were far too many psuedo-psychoanalytic and preachy paragraphs spelling out her message. It did portray some of the possible complications of blended families and the stresses and strains of managing children's behaviours and new adult relationships through these transitions, but other than that I found it nothing more tha Probably 2.5 stars. I don't know why people love Joanna Trollope. This is my first book of hers and I found it pretty contrived. Most of the characters were overdone and there were far too many psuedo-psychoanalytic and preachy paragraphs spelling out her message. It did portray some of the possible complications of blended families and the stresses and strains of managing children's behaviours and new adult relationships through these transitions, but other than that I found it nothing more than a useful diversion while I coughed away at home sick on the couch.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yasmine Azeez

    i am still in the middle of the novel but it struck me her statement about "the night people" , those whom she said about that they do fail in making relationships in real life so they get a substitution in the internet and radio. this was a very shallow statement that u could expect from an ordinary person , not very educated but not from a writer not only cuz it is very stereotyping and generalizing but also cuz the writer from all people is the one who should have better understanding of whom i am still in the middle of the novel but it struck me her statement about "the night people" , those whom she said about that they do fail in making relationships in real life so they get a substitution in the internet and radio. this was a very shallow statement that u could expect from an ordinary person , not very educated but not from a writer not only cuz it is very stereotyping and generalizing but also cuz the writer from all people is the one who should have better understanding of whom she had labelled as the night people , as some of them might be depressed , hurt , or simply introvert , an empath , or a sensitive person. many of those are truly intelligent , and many novelists and artists were lone wolves . now i finished the novel , away from that note mentioned above , i recommend the novel. it is exciting , and very well written and balanced and lifting .

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aiza Chaudry

    I loved it despite it being very gloomy. The book focuses on the relationship of a stepmother and a stepchild and how it may be a struggle but it can definitely flourish into something less scary and something more beautiful and it doesn't always have to be that of a fairy-tale where Stepmothers are always evil. It takes two to tango anyway for anything at all... It's about time people changed this stereotype belief regarding the stepmothers and second marriages.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Parnika

    My first book by this author. The complexities of characters and the many layers of their personalities are very realistically brought out. But it could be slightly faster in its pace. And personally, a little less grey and a little more white is what I would have enjoyed.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Edwina Callan

    An alternate title for this book could have been Struggle & Strife. Women and men attempting to blend their families after death, divorce, and re-marriage. Reading this book had me on an emotional rollercoaster - I laughed, I cried … and, sometimes, I became very, very angry.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Marhen

    Quite fine. I did not like the story. However, it reflects reality.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    3.5*. Well written, people driven drama

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sara Smith

    A good book about some of the intricacies of blended families. Emotionally-charged with pain and love.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rowlie

    I found this story to be quite disjointed and confusing in parts and I had to keep referring to the back cover to keep up.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Chapman

    I really enjoy Joanna Trollope's character development; the situations and characters are very believable. So far, this is my favorite J. Trollope book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    "Other People's Children" by Joanna Trollope was a really good read, and probably one of the most honest books I've read in a while. During this novel, Ms. Trollope tackles and wrestles with an issue that seems to permeate throughout society, no matter where you are residing. She takes the issues of separation, divorce, stepparents and the children that are left behind to pick up the pieces, and molds them into a workable art from which her readers(s) can learn from. Ms. Trollope starts out with "Other People's Children" by Joanna Trollope was a really good read, and probably one of the most honest books I've read in a while. During this novel, Ms. Trollope tackles and wrestles with an issue that seems to permeate throughout society, no matter where you are residing. She takes the issues of separation, divorce, stepparents and the children that are left behind to pick up the pieces, and molds them into a workable art from which her readers(s) can learn from. Ms. Trollope starts out with Josie, a woman who is getting married to another man who is not her son's father. She left him, and, instead of coping with a man she didn't really love for the sake of her son, she decides to deal with three children that were derived from a man she really loves. Another part to that story is the mother of these three children, Nadine. Eventually unable to care for her children, she has no choice but to let them go live with their father and stepmother, who they've fought tooth and nail every step of the way. At the same time, the father of the boy whose mother married another man finds the love of his life, but, because "his" daughter has an attachment to him that she just can't break loose, and he will not deal with, he ends up losing her. And, he's still dealing with his daughter and her attachment issues in the end. The well-known myth of having a stepmother is also brought to light in this novel. The stepmother, especially in fairytales, is made out to be the villain, the ugly witch, and the lesser parent. She's more often than not portrayed to be the evil one who is always trying to conquer the innocent; for example: Cinderella or Snow White. However, Josie and Elizabeth seem to break these myths by trying their best to make sure everyone gets along, and everyone carries their part. "Other People's Children" was a real delight to read...it held my attention all throughout. I give it 4 stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    This is an easy come, easy go, book. Efficiently written, carefully plotted and topical in theme, it holds the interest but does not inspire or open the mind. The characters neatly represent slightly different strata of society. Some characters are definitely nice, reasonable and put-upon, while others are angry, unreasonable and unbalanced, either in a temporary or permanent sense. Places, actually territories, figure highly in the book and represent the different social standing of characters, This is an easy come, easy go, book. Efficiently written, carefully plotted and topical in theme, it holds the interest but does not inspire or open the mind. The characters neatly represent slightly different strata of society. Some characters are definitely nice, reasonable and put-upon, while others are angry, unreasonable and unbalanced, either in a temporary or permanent sense. Places, actually territories, figure highly in the book and represent the different social standing of characters, but the divisions seem forced. I found the farming mother and son, with their rough, ready, unfeeling approach particularly hard to take - a real stereotype there! I have just written a review of Rohinton Mistry's 'Such a Long Journey' and passed comment that the whole of life is there. I think Joanna Trollope made efforts to represent the whole of life but the limitations of her self-imposed brief, of describing step-families, meant that things seemed necessarily narrowed and contrived. The portrayal of Dale was promising as a break from the brief, but I found it did not ring true that she had such control over her family. As she was vulnerable and disturbed, I found it unconvincing that she got her own way, and a more powerful story lay in how she might have handled not getting her own way. Despite some good qualities the book was ultimately unsatisfying and strangely bland.

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