The Children, Ann Leary, author; Gretchen Mol, narrator
Joan Maynard and Richard (Whit) Whitman were married shortly after he met her and was smitten with her. She was the mother of two daughters and he was the father of two sons. However, unlike Joan, he was still married to his wife, Marissa. Still, he divorced her and married Joan. The family seemed to blend very well and most of the children got along thinking of each other as one family, not two that had come together through divorce. Joan and her girls were not aware of any resentment on the part of Whit’s sons except for Phillip who was always ornery and complaining. Still, they enjoyed the home in Conneticuit and had come together in their family home on the lake in New England to plan the wedding of Phillip (Spin), to Laurel in late summer. During the few days that the family blends once more in their family, secrets and animosities long held are revealed and cracks in their relationship open.
Each of the siblings has some kind of an issue. Spin Whitman, newly engaged, is overly influenced by his sweetheart, Laurel, and is no longer the gentle agreeable, rather thrifty brother he once was. Laurel Atwood is well liked at first, but then becomes an enigma creating tension with some family members who doubt her, while others doubt the questions that are being raised about her. She doesn’t seem to be the person she pretends to be, and revelations about her will have tragic consequences. Charlotte Maynard (Lottie) is a successful blogger under an assumed name, Susan, but her career is a secret to her family and friends. On her blog, she is not the person she pretends to be. She is supposedly the mother of two children, well-loved, but some with health problems. She writes about the problems that come with motherhood, good, bad, joyful and sad, but she is not either a wife or a mother. Her sister Sally Maynard is a concert violinist and composer who has emotional problems and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her mood swings are carefully watched by the family members. Charlotte and Sally are only 14 months apart, and they are very close. Washington Fuentes is a police officer who has been sent to their area to investigate the home invasions that have been occurring. Mr. Clean is an unknown man who breaks into homes, cleans up and leaves, taking nothing with him. He, also, has another identity. Sally connects with him. He makes her feel relaxed since he knows none of the family’s baggage, and she does not have to pretend to be anything other than who she is in the moment. Everett Hastings is a close friend of the family, viewed almost as a brother, especially by Spin, not quite by Charlotte who had been paired off with him at one time and is still very close to him. Perry Whitman is an angry young man who looks for faults to point out. He resents the close relationship of Everett with his family. Everett is the groundskeeper (landscaper), who took over his dad’s job. He, like the others, has lived most of his life on the Whitman property with them. They sisters and brothers grew up together with Everett, and he like the Maynard girls and the Whitman boys, all attended the same posh, private school, Holden.
As the story develops, old grudges emerge, horrific secrets are exposed and unknown conflicts and issues are revealed. The wonderfully blended family no longer seems that happy together. Sally no longer works for the New York Symphony as first violinist, Lottie no longer has her original mommy blog, and Joan no longer has her home. Still, as a unit, the Maynards are safe and sound. In the end, though, for the Whitman family, injustice prevails, to my way of thinking, so I found the conclusion frustrating and hoped that, in reality, it could never and would never happen that way. Evil should not be rewarded so lavishly.