The Heirs by Susan Rieger
Rating: 3.5 stars
I read this book because I liked the cheeky tone of her previous novel The Divorce Papers, told entirely through emails, memos, and legal documents. The Heirs is not an epistolary novel like The Divorce Papers but still deals with the dysfunction between a marriage, along with family dysfunction in general.
The story focuses on the upper-class Manhattan Falkes family, Eleanor and her 5 grown sons, who are all dealing with the death of Rupert, their father and husband. Shortly after his death a woman claims Rupert was the father of her two sons and demands their fair share of his estate. Who is this woman? Could what she’s claiming actually be true? Suddenly the perfect marriage each child envisioned between Rupert and Eleanor crumbles as they try to rewrite their history with this new information (or betrayal, depending how mad the person is).
I thought this was an interesting book, but it never really clicked with me. I don’t think we ever really got to know any of the characters besides Eleanor (I did love Eleanor). We get snippets of the five sons that are supposed to tell us about their personalities, but we get nothing complex. It feels like we just get stereotypes, and not good ones either. We see the successful, egotistical, and judgmental first born law professor have an affair, but we don’t ever know any of the reasons behind it other than he just got bored. Yet he is supposed to be sympathetic without showing real remorse. I’m for complex characters who make mistakes, just like in real life, but honestly the brothers just seemed like assholes. There was nothing really redeeming about them.
Also, what the heck was going on with Sam and Susanna? Susanna was hopelessly in love with Sam, who was gay and could never love her like that. However, he still wanted to keep her as a best friend and she became an honorary member of the family for years, all while still being desperately in love with him. After none of her relationships worked out (probably because she never got over Sam), she decides she wants to have a child on her own and Sam volunteers to be the father. String her along more, why don’t you? Nothing about their relationship was healthy, and it should not have been encouraged.
I recommend this if you are interested in upper-crust family drama, but don’t expect sympathetic characters.