An elegant, wry, and superbly nuanced story about a woman with three sons—and three daughters in law—who must come to terms with the new configuration of her family.

As Anthony and Rachel Brinkley welcome their third daughter-in-law to the family, they don’t quite realize the profound shift that is about to take place. For different reasons, the Brinkleys’ two previous daughters-in-law hadn’t been able to resist Rachel’s maternal control and Anthony’s gentle charm and had settled into their husbands’ family without rocking the boat.

But Charlotte—very young, very beautiful, and spoiled—has no intention of falling into step with the Brinkleys and wants to establish her own household. Soon Rachel’s sons begin to think of their own houses as home and of their mother’s house as simply the place where their parents live—a necessary and inevitable shift of loyalties that threatens Rachel’s sense of herself, breaks Anthony’s heart, and causes unexpected consequences in all the marriages. Then a crisis brings these changes to the surface, and everyone has to learn what family love means all over again.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451618389 | 
  • April 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Daughters-in-Law includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Joanna Trollope. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Rachel Brinkley has devoted herself fiercely to her three sons and continues to do so now that they are all grown up. But when her youngest, Luke, gets married, Rachel finds that her control begins to slip away. Charlotte and Rachel butt heads almost immediately, but when Rachel’s other son, Ralph, discovers his wife’s affair, it quickly takes center-stage. Even Edward, the eldest and most settled son, finds his marriage to Sigrid troubled by the family drama. 

As these subtle rifts rise to the surface, the Brinkley family is forced to find new loyalties and call old assumptions into question, while Rachel must find a way to preserve the relationships she holds most dear.


1.       The novel opens with Anthony fixating on his soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s figure. How does this affect your opinion of him? Does it set any expectations for him as a character, or for the book as a whole?

2. & see more

More Books from this Author

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The Other Family

About the Author

Joanna Trollope
Barker Evans

Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope has been writing fiction for more than 30 years.  Some of her best known works include Daughters-in-LawThe Other Family, The Rector's Wife, A Village Affair, Other People's Children, and Marrying the Mistress.  She was awarded the OBE in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honors List for services to literature.  She lives in England.