The Resource Inheritance, Evelyn Toynton

Inheritance, Evelyn Toynton

Label
Inheritance
Title
Inheritance
Statement of responsibility
Evelyn Toynton
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
After the sudden death of her husband, Annie Devereaux flees to England, site of the nostalgic fantasies her father spun for her before he deserted the family. A chance encounter in London leads Annie to cancel her return to New York and move in with Julian, the disaffected, moody son of Helena Denby, a famous British geneticist. As their relationship progresses, Annie meets Julian's sisters Isabel and Sasha, each of them fragile in her own way, and becomes infatuated with visions of their idyllic childhood in England's West Country. But the more she uncovers about Julian's past, the more he explodes into rage and violence. Finally tearing herself away, Annie winds up adrift in London, rescued from her loneliness only when she and Isabel form an unexpected bond. Slowly, with Isabel as her reluctant guide, Annie learns of the emotional devastation that Helena's warped arrogance, her monstrous will to dominate, inflicted on her children. The family who once embodied Annie's idealized conception of England is actually caught in a nightmare of betrayal and guilt that spirals inexorably into tragedy
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Annie Devereaux, living in 1990s St. Paul, Minnesota, happens upon a story in an old Vogue about an English country house and the highborn woman who lived there. As with Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited, Annie’s memories are awakened. It’s 1986, and Annie, then a thirtysomething American widow lugging a suitcase of psychological damage, seeks the idyllic vision of pastoral England that her father, a WWII veteran, entranced her with as a child before he disappeared forever. With rich literary allusions, Toynton, (The Oriental Wife, 2011) delivers a classic story set in Thatcher’s England, where materialism scuppers religion. Coming to England seeking redemption, Annie becomes enmeshed in the lives of three siblings and their controlling mother, members of an eccentric, tragic English family. The English countryside is indeed a Garden of Eden, but behind the manor door is the poisoned fruit of human hands. Back in America, Annie’s “clouds of glory are gone,” but with a hard-won sense of reality, she will plant a climbing rose that promises summer-long blooms. Themes of parental legacy, lost innocence, the impermanence of life, DNA versus nurture, and illusion versus reality wrap vine-like around evocative locales and vivid characters to create a knotty story ripe for discussion. -- Mary Ellen Prindiville (Reviewed 8/1/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 22, p22)
  • The tepid latest from Toynton (The Oriental Wife) is a neo-Jamesian exploration of old-world versus new-world manners and morals as a young American woman in 1986 becomes obsessed with a tragedy-prone English family. After Annie Devereaux’s husband dies, she travels from New York to London, where she meets the charming Julian Digby, who becomes her lover. He introduces her to his two sisters, Isabel, an author and single mother, and Sasha, who suffers from mental illness, and to the family matriarch, Helena, a famous geneticist with an imperious manner. After the affair with Julian abruptly ends, Annie begins a friendship with the emotionally fragile Isabel. Annie’s writing career flourishes, and she finds a new love in Jack, an academic. But she is constantly drawn back to the Digbys, whose secrets lead to an inevitable tragedy. Like a distaff Nick Guest in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty or Charles Ryder in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (which receives mention here), Annie is the classic outsider obsessed with a seemingly glamorous family. But the story is made of too many competing story elements that don’t dramatically cohere. In the end, Toynton takes a number of smartly drawn characters and leaves them stranded in an enervated narrative. (Sept.)
			 --Staff (Reviewed 07/01/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 26, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ After the unexpected death of her young husband, American Annie Devereaux flies away to England, hoping to find an escape that fulfills her romantic dreams of the country. She entangles herself with new friend Julian and his family, for which the word dysfunction is an understatement. Through Julian and his sisters, Annie meets their imperious mother, famous geneticist Helena Digby, constantly scheming and manipulating her children so they achieve the perfection she demands from their genetic inheritance. Of course, no one meets her expectations, and tragedy ensues. VERDICT A wordsmith of the highest order, Toynton (Jackson Pollock) weaves a deeply cinematic story. Book discussion groups will revel in this family's saga. --Lisa Rohrbaugh (Reviewed 08/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 7, p92)
  • The web of unhappiness ensnaring the children of an upper-class English family fascinates a restless American visitor. Chilly, and peopled by a cast of more or less damaged characters, Toynton's (The Oriental Wife, 2011, etc.) third novel spins a downbeat tale exploring the destructive spiral of the Digby family, whose idyllic Devon home is also the heart of its suffering. The house is presided over by matriarch and famous scientist Helena, whose domineering, narcissistic personality has extended a profound influence over her three children. This history is uncovered slowly by an outsider, widowed American Annie Devereaux, who has fled New York after her husband's sudden death. An unexpected encounter on a London street with Helena's son, Julian, leads to a relationship that morphs from sex and sharing into withering cruelty, apparently Julian's familiar pattern. But before the relationship founders, Annie is introduced to Julian's sister Isabel, who offers another facet of the family—beautiful, intellectual, and wounded. There's also a third sibling, math prodigy Sasha, whose mental illness is at times an effective weapon against her selfishly controlling mother. Annie, with her Anglophilia and romantic view of Devon, courtesy of her long-absent father, is magnetized by both Isabel and her home. The text is sprinkled with references to Brideshead Revisited, Toynton's acknowledgement of some parallels between the two stories. But she pulls her own narrative westward, setting up contrasts between Britain and the U.S. and problematical single-family homes on either side of the Atlantic. It's a finely phrased and observed piece of writing but doesn't fully characterize its narrator nor break the doomed family out of the mold. Even though the Digby secrets are exposed and Annie moves on to yet another (imperfect) relationship, little emerges in the way of resolution. A small, brittle, not entirely focused story of class and lost illusions. (Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2019)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10810010
Cataloging source
PUL
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1950-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Toynton, Evelyn
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Widows
  • Man-woman relationships
  • Geneticists
  • England
  • FICTION / Contemporary Women
  • FICTION / Psychological
  • England
Label
Inheritance, Evelyn Toynton
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1080275466
Dimensions
21 cm
Extent
254 pages
Isbn
9781590519219
Lccn
2018061174
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1080275466
Label
Inheritance, Evelyn Toynton
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1080275466
Dimensions
21 cm
Extent
254 pages
Isbn
9781590519219
Lccn
2018061174
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1080275466

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