Sunday, December 28, 2003


If you absolutely cannot wait for Joanna Trollope's next AGA saga, try reading Madeleine Wickham. I'd be hard-pressed to prove that The Tennis Party and A Desirable Residence were not written by Trollope. I read them both Thursday, and of the two, I liked The Tennis Party better. A Desirable Residence just seem too fractured and uneven. I can't quite recall what I thought about Swimming Pool Sunday, but presumably I liked it well enough that I wasn't frightened off from reading a second and then a third Wickham title.

I'm not sure who in the U.K. reads these books. They're not exactly demanding--it only takes two hours to read one--and they're never very original. But I think I like their coziness. Ostensibly, Trollope and Wickham are both writing about the hidden stresses of family life, as well as the very real British class system that makes ordinary decisions more worrisome. But still, the books are always quite soft and warm in the end. Yes, trying to get junior into a public school might drive a couple to divorce, but they're going to break up with a cup of tea in their hands, dammit. At least one of the protagonists will end up okay when all is said and done, and that's more than can be said for real life, so perhaps that's why they sell so many copies.

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