The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis
Published by Simon & Schuster Paperbacks ISBN 9781451666427
Trade paperback, $15, 294 pages
A family reunites to spend their annual July vacation at their summer home on Cape Cod. Maggie is mom to three, married to a great guy, and the organizer of the family. Jess is a high school principal, struggling to balance her demanding job, her children and a husband who is more interested in his job than his family. Virgie is the single one, a career-driven reporter trying to get a job as a TV news anchor and just staring a promising relationship.
Their parents have recently divorced, and their mother Gloria is bringing her new boyfriend to the house. This makes their dad, Arthur, a mystery book writer, very sad as he doesn't understand why their marriage fell apart.
Maggie fears that her life will become empty as her children get older and need her less. She wants to bring a foster child into the family but must first convince her husband. Jess' marriage woes have led her to place that could destroy her marriage and Virgie's work stresses have made her physically ill.
I just fell into this story, reading it in two sittings. The sibling relationships felt so real, and the story of the three marriages facing different challenges was so engrossing. I felt like I was in the family vacation home, watching these people interact around me.
We are privy to the secrets and feelings that each character has, and just like in life, things happen that can bring people together or tear them apart. Wendy Francis brings to life this interesting family, one just like our own, and she does so with heart and compassion that we can't help but want them to be happy even as the sad things that life inevitably brings each us do their best to bring us down.
This is the second book I have read that features a character who is a hoarder (the other being Mary Pflum Peterson's upcoming memoir White Dresses), and it has given me more compassion for people who suffer from this disorder and for the family members who try to deal with them and the physical and emotional mess they leave behind.
I loved The Summer of Good Intentions, and give it my highest recommendation. If you've ever sat on the beach talking with your sisters, this is the book for you.
My review of White Dresses is here.