The Patchwork Marriage: A modern family melodrama

Jane Green explores modern family dynamics in this story of a teenage girl who resents her father's new wife.

The Patchwork Marriage
Jane Green
Penguin Books
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When Andi meets Ethan, she believes she has found her perfect man, and, since she can’t have children of her own, eagerly takes on the role of stepmother to his two daughters from a previous marriage. There’s just one problem: Emily, the eldest of Ethan’s girls, resents her father’s new wife.

A typical teenager, she throws tantrums, breaks the rules and makes her father feel guilty. The premise of the book is that one-day Emily comes home with some shocking news, overstating what is a predictable turn of events, especially considering she has been staying out past her curfew and hanging around boys with names like “G-man” who grunt rather than talk.

The story becomes more interesting once the bomb drops, but only ever in a linear way. Indeed, the sole purpose of the supporting characters is to sympathise with Andi as she relays the melodrama. In essence, the novel is about why three people in a marriage is destined never to work. That said, a few family therapy sessions would most likely have sorted the whole mess out before it started.