Three Good Things by Wendy Francis
Published by Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the author
Sisters Ellen and Lanie have an incredibly close bond, probably due to the fact that they lost their mother when they were young, leaving the elder Ellen to act as a mother figure to her little sister Lanie. Ellen is in her early forties and is happy that finally her husband has moved on with his life for good, and they can get on with the divorce proceedings. Meanwhile, she is focusing on working at her bakery, where she is famous for her Danish kringles. Lanie, a successful attorney with a small child at home, is beginning to feel that the stress of her attempt at a work/life balance is tearing her marriage apart. When one of the two of them begins keeping a secret from the other, they must remember to rely on each other in all things because it is their bond that has gotten the two of them through all the tough stuff life has thrown at them.
On my recent vacation to the beach, I was looking forward to reading some lighter books. You know how it is – you’re outside with friends and/or family, so many people around, many distractions, so you need to read something that’s not too dense, something that you can pick up and put back down every couple of pages. While Three Good Things fit this description perfectly, and was therefore great for what I needed, it had more heart and depth than I was expecting, which was a nice surprise.
I loved how Francis wrote about the bond between these two sisters. Despite the big age difference (about 10 years if I remember correctly), Ellen and Lanie were the definition of sisters who are also best friends. Of course, their relationship had its challenges just like any other family does, but at the end of the day, they truly relied on one another for support and had a genuine sisterly bond. I felt that Francis really got what it is like to have that one other person in the world who really understands you, because only that person grew up in the same home, experienced the same things, and uniquely knows you as a result.
I also felt that Francis really got the struggle that working moms feel. I’m a working person, not a mom, and I struggle all the time balancing work and life. It’s hard for me, so I cannot even begin to grasp how working moms feel, and yet it seems that Francis got it pretty well with Lanie. I felt her pain at trying to “do it all” like it was my own and I really felt for her character. I wanted her to get some peace in her life, I wanted her to repair her relationship with her husband, and I wanted her to find fulfillment in all areas of her life.
The fact that Francis made me care about her characters in such a short novel (just 256 pages!) is a testament to her talent as a writer. By the end of the book, I was completely invested in these women and couldn’t wait to find out the outcomes to the various issues in their lives. I can definitely recommend this book for fans of women’s fiction, and Wendy Francis is an author I’ll be keeping an eye out for in the future!