The Men and the Girls

The Men and the GirlsI listened to this on cassette and it was so utterly boring that I had trouble focusing on it. Both Kate Bain and Julia Hunter have found happiness with men who are significantly their senior or so it seems Kate, who has been with the academic James for eight years, but refused to marry him, finds herself restless and unhappy, for seemingly little reason She lives in James big house, working part time as a waitress and volunteering at a shelter for abused women but she sees a need for independence To have a space that is hers, or hers and her daughter Joss She knows that she s making James unhappy with her retreating but she can t really think about other people right now All she wants is a chance to be on her own and make her own way Her daughter Joss has other ideas though At fourteen, James house is her home, she has lived there since she was six She has no desire to move out of her nice bedroom into a bedsit or rooms rented from someone else She wants to stay with James and his cantankerous uncle Leonard, who lives in the house also, no matter what her mother says.Julia married TV presenter Hugh and gave up work to deliver two cherubic twins At just over sixty, Hugh s career in presenting is starting to wane he s reaching an age where most are shown the door and Julia finds that her career is starting to rise just as Hugh s goes into decline She has always known that by marrying such an older man, she would have to go back to work when he could no longer earn, in order to educate the twins and pay the bills Julia is happy and excited when she is offered a rather lucrative presenting contract but this is marred when she s told that they can only offer his by letting Hugh go Although she knew that Hugh would always take such news hard, the extent to which he is affected by his enforced sort of retirement takes them both by surprise Julia is lovely and patient and understanding and sympathetic but that only adds to Hugh s misery and his reluctance to face the fact that he no longer has work and his pretty young wife is the breadwinner for the family.When James knocks an elderly lady off her bicycle one night coming home from work, it sets forth the chain of events that shape this novel One moment will incite in Kate the frustration and unhappiness and urge her to leave James and Hugh, lifelong friends, had once congratulated themselves on how lucky they were to have found love and happiness with young, beautiful, smart and happy women Now both of their comfortable, happy lives are in upheaval.A little while ago I bought 4 Joanna Trollope books within a couple of weeks and I thought to myself that I d better actually read one to see what it was like before I went and acquired her whole backlist or something I had heard lots of people complimenting Daughters In Law which I also own but I picked this one to read first.Both Kate and Julia are in their thirties and their partner husband are over sixty I found the title of The Men and the Girls a touch patronising as lets face it, at thirty something, they re not exactly girls The book opens with James knocking an elderly woman off his bike due to his forgetting his glasses and the darkness of the night Instead of a sympathetic reaction from Kate, he gets scorn and it sets in motion the feeling of restlessness in Kate, the highlighting of the age difference Her partner is someone who knocks old ladies off their bikes because he can t see them She s also frustrated by James desire to make right with the old lady, who becomes a rather prominent part of the book, which merely seems as a vent for her feelings, an excuse and something to focus on She s not jealous in the romantic sense, as the lady is probably into her 80s, but she seems jealous irrationally, because she resents James going to see her and spending time with her, but she s not particularly interested in spending time with James herself.Kate s daughter Joss is a typical sullen teenager, black clothes, combat boots, badly cut hair, piercings, etc At first she seems a bit typical but throughout the book she grows and evolves and actually becomes one of my favourite characters I fully sympathized with her desire to stay in the house she has lived in for such a large portion of her life, and not move out into rooms Kate has rented in someone else s house She doesn t want things to change, and although her and James have had a relatively distant relationship, her desire to stay with him makes them realise just how important they are to each other Although never morphing into sunshine and lollipops, her relationship with James and with his Uncle Leonard is well written, believable and lovely I have stepchildren and it s a tenuous relationship, always.I found myself less interested in Hugh and Julia s story line but I think the author herself was less interested in it also as it always seems to take a bit of a backseat to the story of James, Kate, Joss and Beatrice Bachelor, the spinster that James knocks off her bike I liked them both well enough but they seemed less flawed, less involving than the chaos happening in the other story Although I found it difficult to relate to both of the issues within the relationships after all I m not 60 and haven t lost my job, nor am I discontent with my situation I could relate to many of the interactions between the characters.I found this novel a pretty good introduction to a new author and I will be definitely reading the others I have soon well soon ish My TBR pile is out of control Julia Hunter And Kate Bain Have Found True Happiness With Men Old Enough To Be Their Fathers Julia Organises Her Husband Hugh And Their Cherubic Twins With Ruthless Efficiency And Kate Has Lived With James, For Eight Years,and Although She Refuses To Marry Him, She S Apparently Devoted To Him Hugh And James, Lifelong Friends, Feel Blessed IndeedBut Age Differences Cannot Be Ignored Forever And When James Accidentally Knocks A Fiercely Independent Spinster From Her Bicycle A Chain Of Events Is Set Off In Which Many Suppressed Discontents And Frustrations Emerge Kate Begins To Seek Out Friends Of Her Own Age And Julia S Career Begins To Blossom Just As Her Husband S Starts To Decline The Tranquil Lives Of The Men And The Girls Seem Shattered As New Relationships Develop And Old Anxieties Surface Utter rubbish I didn t really care enough about the characters or the story to expand on that statement Blatent racism also had me seething. The chief pleasure of a Trollope novel for me is her believable dialogue and her effortless construction of characters.If it wasn t for these two outstanding talents I don t think I could put in the effort to get through a whole novel about people I can t bring myself to like or care much about One or two of the cast interest me including James, head of the household of rather random individuals in Richmond Villa and Joss, who would be his step daughter if her mother had ever agreed to marry him but mostly though beautifully drawn I can t empathise with them.And I love the ending. , Not a single endearing character,ha ha But that must be the point from the teenager to the 30 s 40 s 60 s and goodness beyond all groping through life half dazed with momentary snatches of victorious insights You want to dive into the scene, shake someone up, belch your opinion, guide, direct and scold them all for their selfishness, weakness, indecisiveness And just when you think the characters have got it all together, and that good warm sniffy story ending is about to make you sigh..well, the plot smirks at you and pounds the last page with a twisty unexpected not so happy ending Very much like life Perfect ,. I don t think I ve ever read a book in which all the characters were so vile or at best, boring They seemed to utter something racist, fat phobic or downright rude every other page Was it necessary to have 2 characters regularly tell a 14 year old girl she was stupid I skim read the last 100 pages as I never leave a book unfinished but I ought to have made an exception for this trash. The first 100 pages were enough to put me to sleep, but necessary to set up all the characters Fluffy but nice romance 1992Trollope writes nice stories, but the easy formulas and platitudes of the romantic novel too often surface.It s a mistake for me to read her books at bedtime, since they re the kind I want to keep reading to the end You would think that is a plus for the book, but it usually means I forget it as soon as I ve closed the cover.The 70 plus former schoolteacher character is refreshing, though rather too reminiscent of the retired knitting lady detective in an older UK author s crime stories I m blanking out on the name.Then there s the crotchety 80 year old uncle who lives with the main character James.The 14 year old daughter of James s girlfriend is another refreshing presence.I don t know who the author intends the main character to be, perhaps Kate, the girlfriend We follow her ups and downs the most Yet I feel the author does not actually like Kate, and Kate does not hang together for me She s portrayed as having great empathy for others and being very helpful, yet very impulsive about her own feelings and actions There are vague negative references to feminism.The author seems to like James the best, and so the reader I at least finds him by far the most sympathetic and interesting of all.Beatrice the old schoolteacher In my experience, people assume that a kind heart in someone else is a bottomless well into which it is their right, almost their duty, to dip My mother, when she was dying, once said to me, How fortunate it is, Beatrice, that you have an oppty to exercise your cherishing gifts, I went down to the kitchen after that, and simply shook with rage My parents were both afflicted with cancer.They preferred pain and humiliation and loss of all bodily and mental appetites to the obvious solution.Euthanasia 76 The author has euthanasia as a minor theme in her book I really enjoy Joanna Trollope s books, and this one proved to be just as enjoyable as the others I have read She takes common messy human failings and creates a story I can identify with Her characters muddle through problems and survive not by great heroic means but just by being themselves Not all win, not all lose, but all gain satisfaction one way or another.

Caroline Harvey Joanna Trollope was born on 9 December 1943 in her grandfather s rectory in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Rosemary Hodson and Arthur George Cecil Trollope She is the eldest of three siblings She is a fifth generation niece of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope and is a cousin of the writer and broadcaster James Trollope She was educated at Reigate County School for Girls followed by St Hugh s College, Oxford On 14 May 1966, she married the banker David Roger William Potter, they had two daughters, Antonia and Louise, and on 1983 they divorced In 1985, she remarried to the television dramatist Ian Curteis, and became the stepmother of two stepsons they divorced in 2001 Today, she is a grandmother and lives on her own in London.From 1965 to 1967, she worked at the Foreign Office From 1967 to 1979, she was employed in a number of teaching posts before she became a writer full time in 1980 Her novel Parson Harding s Daughter won in 1980 the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by the Romantic Novelists Association.

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  • Kindle Edition
  • 324 pages
  • The Men and the Girls
  • Joanna Trollope
  • 03 May 2019

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