Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Heirs

Title:  The Heirs
Author:  Susan Rieger
Publication Information:  Crown. 2017. 272 pages.
ISBN:  1101904712 / 978-1101904718

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "When he was dying, Rupert Falkes had the best care money could buy."

Favorite Quote:  "We're package deals. All or nothing."

The Heirs is a portrait of the Falkes family - Rupert, Eleanor, and their fives boys Harry, Sam, Will, Jack and Tom - particularly in the aftermath of Rupert's death. The way in which each person deals with Rupert's death, however, reaches far back into the past to provide a glimpse of how the family got to this point.

The Falkes are a rich family with Eleanor bringing the pedigree and Rupert bringing the rags to riches story. On the face of it, the story begins with Rupert's death and a declaration from a Vera Wolinski that she had a relationship with Rupert and that Rupert fathered her two children, who are now entitled to part of Rupert's estate. The news unsettles the Falkes brothers, not just for what the future may bring but even more because it calls into question everything they thought they knew about their parents and their lives. They each deal with it differently, and they each bring it to their mother differently. Eleanor is the lynch pin that holds this family together.

Below the surface though, this book is more than a family portrait; it is an examination of relationships. Rupert and Eleanor. Rupert and Vera. Eleanor and Jim. Jim and Anne. Sam and Andrew. Sam and Susanna. The Falkes brothers. The Wolinski brothers. Within those relationships, this is a story of love, loyalty, and ultimately fidelity. The questions of fidelity and what it means in every context is the underlying current throughout this book.

The chapter titles - all names except the one titled The Heirs - tells you how this completely character-driven book is. All their stories circle around Rupert's death, but truly each chapter become a vignette and one portrait in a gallery. Eleanor's is a story of strength and of knowing what to see and what to ignore. It is a story of when to follow the "rules" and how, carefully and quietly, to break them. Sam's story is one of the struggle between a love based on desire and one based on friendship. Anne's is the story of constantly living with the fact that you were a second choice and making a life anyways. And so on, through the Falkes family and those who surround the.

Of all the characters, Eleanor is my favorite for her quiet strength and her ability to hold secrets close and her outward demeanor of constant composure. Or, maybe, the mother in me just relates to her love of and her understanding of her children

Eventually, the books winds around to Rupert's own story. This is perhaps my least favorite part of the book for it gets graphic and visual about his relationships with two very different women. Although the entire book is about relationships, most of it is subtle. The descriptions of Rupert's relationship are a jarring note in this otherwise quiet book.

As with Susan Rieger's first book, The Divorce Papers, this book takes me a while to get into. However, the characters do pull me and I find myself engaged in their struggles and caring what happens to them. Given these first two books, I look forward to seeing what Susan Rieger writes next.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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