Author: Joanna Trollope
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
An Unsuitable Match is the first I have read of Joanna Trollope’s work, and it’s the bestselling British author’s twenty-first novel.
I’m a little torn and still not quite sure how I’m feeling about this one. I enjoyed the story and I must say I loved that Trollope has written a story of second chances at love later in life. Our leads are in their sixties and feeling the flush of new love, the excitement of new beginnings and the possibilities that open up when you least expect it.
I have to say, I think the characterisation was all quite realistic and I did feel I got to know the characters, but I didn’t really like them very much.
An Unsuitable Match is the story of Rose and Tyler, and their children. A chance meeting at the theatre reconnects Rose and Tyler forty-seven years after they first met as teens. Rose has been divorced for years and is quite enjoying her independence so it is quite a shock to her grown children that she is planning to remarry.
Trollope does an admirable job exploring the issues facing such a mature couple, because looking at marriage in your sixties is a completely different prospect to marrying in your twenties. It is a time of life when you are much more aware of the world, the future and the need to be able to protect yourself.
All families are different and the dynamic won’t ever be the same so it’s nice to explore different family dynamics if they’re well written. An Unsuitable Match brings together two families with very different dynamics which creates quite a contrast. Rose and her three children have always been very close, in almost daily contact and there has never been any question that her children are Rose’s top priority. Her ex-husband calls one of the children every Sunday so even continents apart they are in contact weekly.
Tyler and his children are a completely different family and it’s hard to really pinpoint the story there, it’s all a little biased perspective point of views that don’t quite show what it was really like. We saw Tyler reaching out to his children as they all grieved the loss of his wife and through the healing process but Seth and Mallory have their own lives, very separate from that of their father.
Rose’s children are not thrilled with the idea of her remarrying and Trollope explores this with sensitive insight through the secondary characters in the novel. It isn’t that they don’t want their mother to be happy but they need to know she won’t be taken advantage of, they need to come to terms with not being her number one priority, and their may even be a hint of jealousy to explore.
Tyler’s children seem to be indifferent and unaffected by the turn of events, even if a little surprised, but on closer inspection that might not quite be the case. The motivations here are completely different to those of Rose’s children because their lives have been so completely different.
Trollope explores families, relationships and the excitement and trepidation of finding love in your sixties. Her characters have depth and they all did a lot of growing throughout the course of the novel. Rose’s whirlwind romance saw them all embark on some heavy self-reflection and make changes in their lives, whether it was strictly by choice or not is neither here nor there.
I did enjoy the story and to an extent I could understand the viewpoint of Rose’s children, for the most part they were just worried about their mum. At the same time though they acted quite a lot like spoiled teenagers concerned more with their expected inheritance than their mother’s happiness.
Tyler’s children were quite distant for the most part, too caught up in their own lives to worry much what Dad was up to. They cared, in that obligatory familial way but it wasn’t until deeper introspection started that they discovered perhaps they cared a little more than they thought.
I think I would have enjoyed the story more if the children hadn’t seemed so set on making Rose see things the way they did, while at the same time also being more caught up in themselves and how Rose’s actions would affect them.
It all came together in a way that I wasn’t quite expecting but it was a satisfying ending and I would recommend the book. Some fantastic character explorations, though some frustrating characters, and very much a character driven story rather than action packed.
Joanna Trollope can be followed on her website and Facebook.