Book Review: The Heirs by Susan Rieger

Rupert believed in his sons, and his belief in them was the greatest thing he gave them. He simply couldn’t show them affection. It seemed inevitable to Eleanor that Rupert had managed his final illness to make physical touch impossible, as if he’d been traveling toward the point his whole life. His last coherent words to her, a week before he dies, were lawyers’ words: “Settle my just debts.”

No less sophisticated than one would expect of a book featuring characters that compose the upper echelons of New York society, The Heirs by Susan Rieger explores the ripple effect following the passing of Rupert Falkes. This story is told from an assortment of viewpoints including Rupert’s wife Eleanor and a sampling of their five sons and their respective companions.  From these narratives, each with their own proximity to Rupert and family, we gain an all-encompassing view into their life; triumphs, struggles, secrets and all.

At the center of it all is the love story of Eleanor and Rupert. Beginning in college, they each discovered a suitable match in the other and created a life of love and wealth out of what they had to share.

Their friends might have said they loved each other, but brought up without family warmth or affection, neither had the vocabulary of ordinary, everyday happiness. They were very good at sex, it turned out, but no good, with each other, at casual touching. It suited them both.

When a letter arrives following Rupert’s death it threatens to crumble the very foundation this family was built on. A woman appears from the ether, claiming two children by Rupert and the inheritance that comes with it. Eleanor and her boys react with varying degrees of intensity to this news, and we follow along as they glean what is to be had from the past and determine how to carry it into the future.

“Weren’t you upset by Vera’s claim?” Same asked. Eleanor shook her head. “It came after,” she said. “It didn’t change the life I had with your father.” “I don’t understand you at all,” Same said. “It’s the angle,” Eleanor said. “You can’t see me from where you’re standing.”

In the end a surprising lesson is learned- redemption is not always too be had, nor should it always be desired. Brimming with wit and convention, The Heirs packs in the drama with a nod to the decorum of East Coast high society.

“I wasn’t always a good man,” Rupert said. “I wanted to be but couldn’t do it.” “Good enough,” Eleanor said. “My life turned to be much better than I any right to expect,” he said. “Mine too,” she said. “Thank you,” He said. Eleanor leaned over and kissed him. He reached up and touched her cheek. “I wish I could stay,” He said. “I do too,” she said.

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A review copy of this title was provided by Crown Publishing via Blogging For Books

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