Fowler (The Good Neighborhood) returns with a smooth Austenesque tale of midlife reckoning. Matriarch Marti Geller, faced with terminal cancer, worries about her daughters. “That is what wills are for,” Fowler writes, “to pull the strings you weren’t able to... in life.” The oldest, Beck, a freelance writer, is stuck in a sexless marriage. Claire, a cardiologist, is recently divorced and pining for a man she shouldn’t be. Sophie, an art curator, is Instagram famous, but drowning in debt. Upon Marti’s death, the girls are left with instructions to gather one last time at the family summer home off the coast of Maine before selling it and splitting the proceeds. In chapters from alternating points of view, Fowler skillfully captures each woman’s contemporary narrative and backstory without losing the thread of time and place even as the book hopscotches through flashbacks and locales ranging from Mount Desert Island to Duluth and Dubai. At times she relies on too convenient coincidences to move the plot and the random insertions of an omniscient narrator to explain things, but the well-developed character studies keep the reader chugging along until the satisfying conclusion. Neither too complex nor too light, this goes down as easily as an Aperol spritz. (June)
From the Publisher
"Can you say perfect porch read?" CNN.com
"Fowler has done it again." GMA.com
"A tightly coiled family saga…Fowler expertly peels back the layers of each character in this page-turner, making for a highly entertaining summer read." Booklist
"Austenesque...this goes down as easily as an Aperol spritz." Publishers Weekly
"A smart and lively novel, one that had me turning its pages faster and faster, wondering if this indelible family could really untangle the deep lies that reveal an even deeper truth." Jess Walter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins
"A big-hearted novel about middle-aged women reckoning with their own heavy secrets, and each other. This novel is entertaining, in the best sense of the word, and a true page-turner." Ann Napolitano, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Edward
Fowler, the author of well-received family and historical dramas like A Good Neighborhood and A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts, veers light in this sparkling, summery contemporary story, A dying woman with a secret past, Marti Geller leaves behind three successful adult daughters: freelance journalist Beck, who longs to write a novel; pediatric cardiologist Claire, who pines for the wrong man; and Sophie, whose Instagram-ready life looks better online than in reality. Marti dispenses maternal advice to "take more taxis," and her revelatory bombshell of a will requires Beck, Claire, and Sophie to sell the family's summer house in Mount Desert, Maine, and split the proceeds. This forces Marti's rivalrous daughters into a closeness that each had previously only shared with their mother. Together, the sisters must eventually reveal and confront their own scandalous secrets. VERDICT All you could want in a beach read: three sisters with secrets; a summer house in Maine to be sold off (or not); a sexy stranger from out of town who's looking to buy; and no problem that can't be satisfyingly resolved before the story ends.—Laurie Cavanaugh
Love, lies, and long-buried secrets surface as a favored family summer home in Maine is put up for sale.
The title is something of a giveaway in Fowler’s latest, a story of problems endured over many years, sometimes at significant personal cost, but, once aired and shared, reaching self-evident solutions. Sisters Beck, Claire, and Sophie Geller, with their contrasting careers and lifestyles, must come together after the loss of their mother, Marti, whose will requires them to sell the beloved summer cottage they have inherited, a remote house on Mount Desert Island. Sophie, who works in Manhattan’s art world but whose life has suddenly upended, needs the money the sale would bring. Claire, a doctor whose marriage has failed, could use the cash, too, but welcomes the distraction from unrequited love that the house brings. Beck, a journalist married to book editor Paul, wants to keep the house as a place in which to write the novel she’s longed to complete. Doing so would also liberate her from her kind but sexless marriage. Paul, meanwhile, has a secret—he yearns for Claire, and Claire (unbeknownst to Paul) yearns back. Marti kept secrets, too, and Beck has lied to Paul, both for financial and sexual reasons. She’s recently spent an amazing night with C.J. Reynolds, a figure from her past who has his own problematic backstory. Backstories indeed fill many pages in this exposition-heavy, distinctly soapy story, which devotes most of its attention to elaborating the problems set up to be unraveled. Fowler presents the family members in great detail; less so in the case of the perfunctory C.J., though he too will reach a happy resolution. So, this is what it all comes down to—a tying up of much-dangled loose ends.
Romantic and other dilemmas reach flagged-up conclusions in a novel whose destination is gratification.