I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.The Children by Ann Leary
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 24, 2016
Genres: Domestic Life, Family Life, Women's Fiction
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Charlotte and Sally Maynard grew up in a rambling Connecticut country house that belonged to their stepfather, Whit Whitman. Perry and Spin, Whit's sons from his unhappy first marriage, were welcomed as weekend guests. All of the children received Whit's love and attention, but they were also influenced, for better and for worse, by his often misguided ideals and wildly narcissistic personality. When Whit dies, he leaves the estate in the care of his wife, Charlotte and Sally's mother, with the understanding that the home will revert to Perry and Spin when she passes away. But Joan, a stalwart sixty-something, isn't going anywhere soon. She's enjoying the house, which she shares with Charlotte, an agoraphobic mommy blogger, who doesn't actually have any children. She and her sister have a good relationship, and they're close, too, with their step brothers. But when Spin, the youngest, brings his beautiful fiancé Laurel Atwood home for the summer, she manages to subtly crack the polite veneer of the family, exposing an array of simmering resentments, old wounds, and troubling family secrets.
Told from the sharp and wryly humorous perspective of the introverted Charlotte, THE CHILDREN examines themes of money, loyalty, trust, and familial love.
The Children by Ann Leary took a bit for me to get into. I was unsure if I liked the story for the first third as the narrator was doling out very small pieces of a large puzzle that I was not aware of. As the pieces began to fall into place, I was intrigued then I was invested then I was involved. The tale of a blended family told by the introverted Charlotte, a 29 year old who still lives at the home she rarely leaves and writes a “mommy blog” despite not being a mother. Charlotte tells us the history of the family, her mother and sister, step-father and two step-brothers, and how everything changed when Whit, the step-dad passed. As the lives of the children begin to intersect in very interesting ways the addition of a mysterious woman amps up the drama.
I really ended up liking the plot of The Children. It contained drama, twists and humor in a way that had me engrossed by the end. The writing of Ann Leary was fantastic. She was able to weave a complex tale of family drama, love and humor in a unique way. I did have some issues with the pacing as it would switch to flashbacks suddenly and it would take me a bit to figure out when we were. The world built was very well done. Set in essentially one location, I could picture the rooms as the players moved through them. The emotions were there, but they were more of an underlying feature. Charlotte was introspective and as we saw the story unfold through her eyes we felt her emotions as well. The characters were a high point. All were nuanced and fit perfectly within the scope of the tale.
The Children was a read that I did not expect. It was a fantastic blend of drama, humor and family that all worked very well together. Once I could see the outline of the puzzle, I enjoyed seeing each piece put into place. There was only one character who did not get the comeuppance I wanted, but that actually tied into the storytelling well. Ann Leary was able to weave a delicate tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Favorite lines – The moon is almost full now. Each night this week, the sky’s grown brighter and it’s harder to see the stars, but not impossible. I’ll still be able to see Polaris tonight. Someday, I’ll show it to my children. It’s at the end of the Little Dipper, right there, at the tip of the handle. Once you find Polaris, you’ve found true north. You can navigate anywhere from there. Find a landmark, I’ll tell the children.
Biggest cliché – As long as I say tucked away all will be fine.
Have you read The Children, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge