The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis
Published by Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the publisher
The three Herrington sisters are back at their Cape Cod family home for the summer with their husbands and children and their parents (separately, they’re divorced). Oldest daughter Maggie feels the need to organize and control everything so that everyone is happy and the summer goes according to plan. Middle child Jess is unhappy in her marriage and envious of Maggie’s seemingly perfect life. She’s at a crossroads with her husband, and has made a terrible mistake that she must confess if she wants to move forward. Youngest girl Virgie has kept her focus solely on her career for her entire adult life, but the stress is taking its toll on her and physically, she’s not coping well. In addition, she’s just someone and is considering what this new relationship will mean for herself and her future. The three of them spend the summer navigating each other, their families, and their divorced parents, as they find a way to make everything fit together as it should.
Overall I enjoyed this novel. The three main characters were likable and I related to each of them in a different way. While I don’t have kids so I had trouble relating to the stay-at-home mom stuff, I understood Maggie’s desire to have everything in working order and everyone in the family getting along all of the time. I often play the peacemaker role in my own family, so that felt authentic to me. Luckily, I couldn’t personally relate to the marriage problems Jess was dealing with, but we’ve all been through times in our lives that have taken a stall, so I got the feeling of needing something “more” in her life. And Virgie was most like me – no kids, super focused on career – so I totally got her drive to be good, better, best at her job and that push to be more successful each day than you were the day before. I liked the way the three interacted, and while there were some birth-order stereotypes, overall I found their relationships realistic. I also appreciated how each sister had grown personally by the time the book ended.
Personally I could have gone without the parents. There was too much unnecessary drama from the two of them, and I think it would have been a better novel had it just focused on the three sisters and their families. However, the ending proved that the parents were important to the story, so I get why they were in it. Just, I don’t know, I wish they had been removed completely and the author had come up with some other way to end the book.
Overall, The Summer of Good Intentions was a pleasant and fun read. It’s not going to be the best book I read this year, but I enjoyed the time I spent with these sisters and their families, and I’ll read more from Wendy Francis in the future.