Book Review : The Heirs
By Susan Rieger
Brilliantly wrought, incisive, and stirring, The Heirs tells the story of an upper-crust Manhattan family coming undone after the death of their patriarch. Six months after Rupert Falkes dies, leaving a grieving widow and five adult sons, an unknown woman sues his estate, claiming she had two sons by him. The Falkes brothers are pitched into turmoil, at once missing their father and feeling betrayed by him.
In disconcerting contrast, their mother, Eleanor, is cool and calm, showing preternatural composure. Eleanor and Rupert had made an admirable life together — Eleanor with her sly wit and generosity, Rupert with his ambition and English charm — and they were proud of their handsome, talented sons: Harry, a brash law professor; Will, a savvy Hollywood agent; Sam, an astute doctor and scientific researcher; Jack, a jazz trumpet prodigy; Tom, a public-spirited federal prosecutor.
The brothers see their identity and success as inextricably tied to family loyalty – a loyalty they always believed their father shared. Struggling to reclaim their identity, the brothers find Eleanor’s sympathy toward the woman and her sons confounding. Widowhood has let her cast off the rigid propriety of her stifling upbringing, and the brothers begin to question whether they knew either of their parents at all.
A riveting portrait of a family, told with compassion, insight, and wit, The Heirs wrestles with the tangled nature of inheritance and legacy for one unforgettable, patrician New York family. Moving seamlessly through a constellation of rich, arresting voices, The Heirs is a tale out Edith Wharton for the 21st century. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
On goodreads The Heirs had quite good reviews and I always love finding a new author that I enjoy reading, so I was hopeful. My hopes were dashed!
1- Characters; I didn’t like anybody. Eleanor is cold and unfeeling to everyone. Rupert is angry (and dead), most of their sons are nearly interchangeable because they are so similar, so who even cares to remember their specific names. Susanna is probably one of the more likable characters, though I was frustrated with her since she put her life on hold because she was in love with a gay man (Sam).
2- Plot; where was the plot? The family is in turmoil over the possibility that their father had a second family. Elenor is unfazed. More than going into the details of paternity, lawsuits or their feelings the author back tracks and summarizes the life of each character. Through these summaries the reader gains an omniscient view of the proceedings.
3- Moral lessons; what is the point? Ultimately the characters are unhappy. It ends on the note of Sam and Susanna being happy, but for how long with their history? Is the author saying, ‘It’s normal for everyone to have affairs, don’t feel bad if you do it too’ or ‘Even the rich have problems’ or ‘Your life may be boring, but at least you’re not part of the Falkes family’? Regardless is was a rather depressing read. The family didn’t care if they gave some money to the purported children, they didn’t want to have their view altered about their father’s legacy. Eleanor said, ‘Don’t rewrite history,’ which was about the best thing she said. In my experience people always care about giving money away, and I think it would have been more realistic to have Rupert’s sons want to cling onto the money as proof of their father’s love.
4- Why did I bother to finish the book? I don’t know. It was a bit like watching a train wreck. I couldn’t help but watch, even though I was horrified. Everyone was such a mess and I just hoped somebody would start to act human, and care about someone else other than themselves. It is a book of narcissists. All small children are narcissistic, but hopefully adults don’t perpetuate the behavior. I finished it because I had started it and I rarely don’t finish a book, however, this is one I should have set aside.
I didn’t find the book humorous, or fun, or insightful or even thought provoking. I pretty much hated it. The book had fine sentence structure. She makes a good use of literary quotes to head chapters. The language wasn’t too bad. It had a weird way of talking about the various affairs, most didn’t include the gory details until the final chapters with Rupert and Eleanor, and then there was too much information.
I cannot recommend The Heirs.
1 out of 5 stars
I recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.