Aga sagas are not really my thing, but I saw Joanna Trollope talk about her new book, An Unsuitable Match, at the Endellion book festival, so when I saw it secondhand for a donation in a church in Dartmouth, it was obvious I must buy it.
It’s light-hearted, about a 64-year-old divorcee, Rose, who falls in love again but finds her grown-up children don’t like it. A common problem, I imagine. The man in question is a widowed old friend from a loveless marriage with an American. He is called Tyler. I hate the name, but my dislike was alleviated when I discovered he was named after Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt. That was maybe the most interesting thing I read if I’m honest. Apparently, Wat is short for Walter and that’s no name for a baby!
The story is very much focused on its characters. Tyler, it must be said, gets on my nerves. He is too good to be true, so he probably isn’t. The eternally grateful yet slightly controlling man is never an attractive idea. Some of Rose’s children need a good shaking, and Rose dithers, so I had little sympathy for her character either. Joanna writes from experience, as she is now a twice-divorced grandmother living independently in London, so her storytelling feels authentic in many ways, for she follows the maxim: write what you know.
One cannot deny Trollope’s ongoing appeal. This is, I think, her 21st book, and it makes her money so, go Joanna. Making money from novels is no mean feat. She is highly-acclaimed, well educated (Oxford) a personable speaker. The book is largely about emotional predicaments. As someone wrote, the plot meanders, having little pace, with the occasional disturbance thrown in to maintain interest.
As half-expected, I meandered through it, for it was an easy read. By the end, I still did not feel the love for any characters, though I began to warm to her twins who grew more human as the book progressed. It’s an easy and pleasant way to while away some time, but it did not make enough demands on my thought-processes to draw me back for more.