Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Heirs by Susan Rieger: Parents' Secret Lives

"I don't think children are meant to understand their parents." Will Falkes

The Heirs by Susan Rieger kept me reading, finishing the novel in 24 hours.

Eleanor and her five adult sons must contend with more than the early loss of the family patriarch, Rupert. It appears that Rupert had a secret life, and possibly sons with another woman. As we learn about the family and their history through the various characters we realize everyone has secrets, and it is all right.

"I never told you boys to always tell the truth. We don't owe the truth to everyone." - Eleanor Phipps Falkes

The British born Rupert was a foundling raised by an Episcopal priest whose last name he assumed. His early life at a boarding school was brutal. He was beautiful and smart and lucky, immigrating to America for his education, becoming a successful lawyer, and marrying the gorgeous, rich, and aristocratic Eleanor. Each had previously been involved with someone else, but none of that mattered and neither shared their stories.

Their five sons are very different from each other but devoted--and unanimous in believing their parents were each other's first loves. The boys struggle with how to deal with the lawsuit from Vera Wolinski who claims Rupert was the father of her two sons.

"At what point, she wondered, would her sons stop thinking their parents existed only for them?"- Eleanor

The stories behind the family in The Heirs are sometimes steamy and always complicated, but the book reads very cool and elegant, full of literary references.

Chapters share different character's back stories and viewpoints. We realize that the 'truth' not only changes with each character but that a character's understanding of the truth shifts.

In the end, it does not matter what is 'true.' Life is mysterious, especially the lives of our parents, who don't owe us any explanations.

I received a free book from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Heirs
Susan Rieger
Crown Publishing
$26 hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-101-90471-8

Note: Rieger's husband is the author David Denby whose book Lit Up I reviewed here.

I will warn there are passages with lusty sexual encounters and unwanted boarding school buggering.