The Prodigal Wife
Dunne, Jan 2010, $25.99
Renowned TV gardening show host Jolyon accompanied by his beloved girlfriend Henrietta returns to the family estate the Keep that has been owned and occupied by Chadwicks for several generations, to celebrate a birthday with family. However, he is unaware that his mother, whom has not seen in about fifteen years, has come to the Keep to spend quality time with him. Jo’s father Henry and his stepmother Fliss worry how he will react to seeing the woman who abandoned him.
Maria feels alone since her spouse Adam died. She wants to make amends with her son as spending Christmas alone for the first time weighs heavy on her. Although Hal is receptive and Fliss kind, Jo refuses to believe his mother wants to end their estrangement; instead he assumes Maria wants a piece of his fame. Hal feels guilty for his role in the break-up as he never emotionally moved beyond his Fliss even after he was married to Maria and Henrietta struggles with the end of her parents’ marriage. Although constantly rejected by her son, Maria refuses to quit trying as she knows she failed Jo.
The latest Chadwick Family Chronicle (see Looking Forward, Holding On and Winning Through) is an engaging entry that focuses on Jo and Maria as the latter tries to atone for the hurt she caused to the former. The story line is character driven as the Chadwick family look back to events already showcased in the previous entries, but with new perspective especially at Maria who came across as an uncaring rat whenever mentioned in the earlier tales. Although the Christmas Tree ending provides some closure, it feels more of a set up for book five rather than a clean climax. Still fans of the saga will relish this fine entry.