18 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Trollope's novels often depict a family in crisis; the reverberations of upheaval through the comfortable routines of familial life, and the individual responses to trouble and change. She sometimes likes to throw an outsider into the mix: the self-possessed young mistress in "Marrying the Mistress;" the old lady struck by a protagonist's car in "The Men and the Girls;" and Zoe, the forthright, city-bred innocent of her current novel.
"Next of Kin" explores the aftermath of death and its effect on the survivors. The story opens with the funeral of Caro Meredith, California-born wife of English dairy farmer Robin Meredith, dead of a brain tumor in her forties. Robin's grief is complicated by his dead wife's long detachment from the farm and from himself. Caro, a rootless wanderer who always wanted to belong somewhere, to someone, could never embrace the land-bound farm life and left her husband's bed years earlier. Robin feels, sadly, bitterly, that she never tried.
The center of Caro's life was Judy, her and Robin's adopted daughter. Judy, so close to her mother, resents Robin as a remote, distant man who never loved Caro properly. Robin is awkward with Judy, so much Caro's daughter, and, truth be told, he never wanted to adopt and was devastated to learn Caro had married without telling him she could have no children.
Robin's brother, Joe, beset with private worries and longings, and a young, needy wife, mourns Caro as the emblem of freedom and otherness in his life. Joe runs the leased family farm after Robin left crop farming to establish his own dairy farm. Their parents, Dilys and Harry, too old now to run things on their own, see Joe, their favorite, as the repository of all their hopes and the productivity of their lives.
A few weeks after Caro's death, Judy brings her new flatmate home from London to her father's farm. Zoe grew up in the London projects. To her, meals are take-away food. She has never so much as peeled a potato or washed a dish. Robin's farm, with its animals, its broad acreage and seeming self-sufficiency, enthralls her, and, to Judy's outrage, she whimsically installs herself there, learning to run the tractor, cook and stack bales of hay.
Seen from the family's vantagepoint, Zoe seems self-possessed, independent, possibly dangerous. Not knowing the hidebound rules of community and family, she breaks them freely. When a second death shakes the family to the core, Zoe remains, unintrusive but available, infuriating some of the women who see her as a scheming wanton and Robin's acceptance of her as a betrayal. But she serves as a catalyst, forcing the family to look outward, to see themselves as an outsider does.
Trollope's characters are flawed human beings whose aspirations and failures ring true. There are no bad people or good people; their complexity resides in the minutiae of relationships, self-perception and innate personality. As a catalyst Zoe sparks small epiphanies leading to minor, possibly lasting change. These occur not so much because of Zoe herself but because, as an outsider making her way inside, she casts new light on unquestioned traditions. Convention plays a strong part in justifying people's actions; Zoe serves to make them confront the underlying selfishness or weakness or convenience or dependency. That Zoe may suffer when the family closes ranks again concerns no one, except, possibly, Zoe. To everyone else, her life outside their sphere of reference is a blank.
There's a lot going on in this novel, from explorations of farming realities in our time (mostly harsh) to the vicissitudes and accommodations of married life (a favorite theme of Trollope's) to the degrees of dependency and manipulation between parent and child. As the central theme, death affects each of these relationships, rippling outwards to draw in those on the periphery, calling into question the past and the future, people in the misery of grief "shackled to their thoughts," but going on because "while we're alive, we live."
Beautifully structured, gracefully written, full of difficult subtleties and unexpected strengths, "Next of Kin" is one of Trollope's finest novels.