The Heirs


“No,” she said, dropping her query, knowing she’d never get an answer. “I am still attached to him. And I’m not finished with him.”

Rupert Falkes has died of cancer, leaving behind a widow and five grown sons. As they come to terms with their grief they are hit by an unforeseen betrayal as a woman sues Rupert’s estate, claiming to have two sons fathered by him. As the family struggles to come to understand that, perhaps, not everything was as it seems in Rupert and Eleanor’s marriage they must decide how to keep the family together in The Heirs by Susan Rieger.

*Review may contain spoilers*

I’ve never read The Godfather and have only seen the movie once, maybe twice (yes, I know, I’m a horrible Italian) but when I read the description of The Heirs I made the terrible mistake of thinking the two would be somewhat similar. Obviously, this book isn’t about Italian mobsters who might have been inspired by ancestors of mine (I have no actual proof, but either way never go against a Sicilian *wink wink*) but, hey, who doesn’t like family drama?

First things first: there’s a reason The Godfather was about mobster Italians and not just rich, white people.

Every character in The Heirs fits the mold of bland, repeats we’ve seen time and time again. The father had to work for everything to get where he was, the mother, from a well to do family, has known nothing else except childbearing, each son is ‘almost’ perfect, and the rest filled in with ex-lovers and societies wealthy.

I don’t mind stories about rich, white people. F. Scott. Fitzgerald is a favorite author of mine, and he’s practically the King of fictional rich, white people, but I do mind stories about whiny, unappreciative, white people. Again, Fitzgerald doesn’t help, but at least his characters have depth.

At first, I thought I could handle all the different POV’s and find at least one character to like. But there are so many of them, blending together like a vanilla bean Frappuccino because no one has any discerning traits.

Honestly, I can’t even remember all five sons names, let alone differentiate them or what they contributed to this story. Or who Eleanor was really in love with because she has no emotion past cool as a cucumber and she’s the damn main character.

And though Rieger tried to be modern with a gay character it’s clear she only did it for appearances because Sam leaves his partner (who’s only purpose is to be a blatant bad guy with no character development) not even halfway through the book to live with his best friend and have a baby with her.

Yeah, you read that right.

If the characters don’t put readers off it doesn’t help every conversation is either about 3 things: 1. How Rupert and Eleanor weren’t anything like their sons remembered, 2. How life-shattering Rupert’s affair is, and 3. How awful their lives are because they went to Ivy League schools, have family money, and don’t know how to act like real human beings.

Meanwhile, the main conflict is supposed to be about whether or not these two sons are actually Rupert’s, which not only never gets solved, but is also barely present in the entire book. And nothing else happens leading to no climax whatsoever and a blasé ending.

The entire book is heavy-handed on telling, rather than showing, and it might have been sufferable if most of the conversations didn’t have ‘he said, she said, he said’ after every line making it sound like a child was telling the story.

Rieger is a Columbia law graduate and though I don’t know much else about her upbringing I can’t imagine it’s far off from the ones portrayed by her characters. Her writing shows how limited her social views are and the things she believes are important to society and families, which translates into money and prestige.

Look, I know the saying is ‘write what you know’, but is it worth it at the expense of a good plot and decent characters?

I know I am in the rarity, disliking this book, but I cannot find anything to like. There needed to be less pity party and more concentration on the story promised to readers, which might have helped the book be something other than white, bland, and boring.


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