Sunday, 16 November 2008

Simon Tolkien - "The Stepmother"

Publ: 2003 ISBN: 978-0141010915
Rating: *** 3 stars

The plot of this courtroom drama hinges on the decision of Sir Peter Robinson, a government minister, to side with his mistress rather than his teenage son when the mistress is accused of planning a murder that the son has witnessed. Robinson cuts the boy out of his life. He refuses even to speak to him. As a courtroom drama, The Stepmother passes the first and most important test: it makes you desperate to find out what happens in the end.

SIMON TOLKIEN, born c1959, the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien,wrote 'The Stepmother', his first novel, after being cut off from his "literary inheritance" by a dispute which has split his family. Having spent a decade as a solicitor, Tolkien decided in 1994 to switch to the bar, specialising in serious crimes. He lives in Chelsea with his wife and two children. After number of rejections, he was rewarded when The Stepmother was sent to agents in America and accepted. That initial failure became an advantage. "I know the book isn't being published just because I'm a Tolkien," he says. "The fact that people said no the first time makes me feel that I have some quality in my own right."

"A courtroom is an extraordinary place. Witnesses often tell their stories in the most dramatic fashion watched by a silent jury who have to decide who is telling the truth (I often think of my readers as if they were the jury). My experiences as a criminal barrister in London have provided me with many ideas for stories, a wide experience of human nature and an insider’s knowledge of the English criminal law which means that I can make my fiction true to life." (Simon Tolkien)

I wonder why Simon Tolkien is not on Fantastic Fiction's site?


  1. This sounds most intriguing, and I'm going to look for it. I can't imagine someone doing that to his son.

  2. Not sure where you are from, Nan, but it is interesting that the idea of a man cutting off his child seems far more acceptable in Britain than in the US. At first US publishers were doubtful if Americans would find the plot believable for that very reason. There is a debate about it on (It is believable, I assure you.)

  3. Thank you for that link. I just finished reading it, and I feel so badly for the man. Sad about his father, sad about his school life. I hope he can find personal peace and also great success as a writer. Thanks for introducing me to an author, a book, and a subject I knew nothing about. I'm not a JRR Tolkien reader, but I may read the grandson's book.


Hello folks - your comments are always welcome.