After the tremendous success of Terry Tyler’s, “Kings and Queens,” set in recent times but based on the Tudor court of Henry VIII, its follow up, “Last Child,” was a treat I was looking forward to. And it doesn’t disappoint.
At the beginning of the novel we find orphaned Isabella, Erin and Jasper, the modern representations of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Edward VI living in Lanchester Hall with their stepmother Kate and her new young husband Aiden Seymour. Soon 16 year old Erin’s flirtatious relationship with 32 year old Aiden gets out of hand and Kate leaves. Luckily ex- nanny Hannah Cleveley is on hand to provide some security and stability for the mixed-up half-brother and sisters.
The story is told in the words of several key characters giving the reader a variety of perspectives and making you care about their lives. Hannah is a loving observer of the family who steps in whenever there is a crisis, “mentally loosening” her stays!
Jaz is a typical teenage boy who despite losing his parents so young has the potential to lead the family company successfully once he has grown up. In the meantime he’s rather naughty and delightfully describes his family in terms of Harry Potter characters. He is so vibrant that when disaster strikes it is still a shock.
Isabella is, as expected, a crazy mixed up young lady, full of resentment and jealousy. As she aptly comments, “My life is more Greek tragedy than Hugh Grant film.” Her relationship with Philip Castillo is doomed from the start and it is hardly surprising that employees in the company call her “the Mad Axe woman.”
Erin can charm the birds from the trees. People warm to her and men find her very attractive. Her on/off relationship with Robert Dudley is a major part of the plot and he is also a charismatic and likeable character. They are good friends but there is also, “an explosive chemistry,” between them. She is astute in business and determined not to give up the reins by burying herself in marriage.
Alongside these events there are many other sub plots. We see the self-destruction of psychosis and schizophrenia and the slow deterioration of the mind caused by Alzheimer’s. But the overall theme of the book is love, much of it unrequited, and its consequences. Perhaps the most touching story is that of Raine Grey and Jim Dudley which departs from the Tudor events into a warm but sad relationship.
The final part of the book is doom-laden. You feel as if everything is going to go wrong but will it? But there is a wonderful epilogue promising exciting events in the future. Terry’s excellent plotting and witty turn of phrase make Lost Child a delight to read and I feel as if I know all the characters almost as well as my own family.