Title: The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
Cape Cod summers are supposed to remain reassuringly the same, but everything falls apart when three sisters and their families come together for their annual summer vacation—and they are carrying more secrets than suitcases.
Maggie is the oldest. She feels responsible for managing the summer house and making sure everything is as it always has been. But she’s hurt that her parents’ recent divorce has destroyed the family’s comfortable summer routines, and her own kids seem to be growing up at high speed. Is it too late to have another baby?
Jess is the middle sister. She loves her job but isn’t as passionate about her marriage. She’s not sure she can find the courage to tell Maggie what she’s done—much less talk to her husband about it.
Virgie is the youngest, her dad’s favorite. She’s always been the career girl, but now there’s a man in her life. Her television job on the west coast is beyond stressful, and it’s taking its toll on her—emotionally and physically. She’s counting on this vacation to erase the symptoms she’s not talking about.
The Herington girls are together again, with their husbands and kids, for another summer in the family’s old Cape Cod house. When their mother, Gloria, announces she’s coming for an unscheduled visit—with her new boyfriend—no one is more surprised than their father, Arthur, who has not quite gotten over his divorce. Still, everyone manages to navigate the challenges of living grown-up lives in close quarters, until an accident reveals a new secret that brings everyone together in heartbreak…and then healing.
Poignant, compelling, and so real that you could shake the sand out of the pages, The Summer of Good Intentions is by a rising star who aims her fiction square at the heart of readers who love Elin Hilderbrand, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Mary Kay Andrews.
In The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis, the Herington family’s annual trip to their summer cottage on Cape Cod is rife with tension and minor discord. Unlike years past, the family vacation is anything but relaxing as each member is faced with challenges that play out during the month long visit.
Oldest daughter Maggie McNeil is looking forward the chance to unwind and escape from her hectic life. This über organized mom of three is more than ready to leave behind the hustle and bustle of busy days and enjoy a relaxing month at the beach with her extended family. She has managed to schedule everyone’s visits and figure out sleeping arrangements and now it is time for her to let her husband, Mac, lend a hand with kids while she hangs out with the rest of the family. But the first hint of trouble arrives when her mom, Gloria, arrives at the summer house early which puts her visiting at the same time as her father Arthur, whom Gloria divorced eighteen months earlier after nearly 46 years of marriage.
Jess, Maggie’s twin sister, is next to arrive with her husband, Tim, and their two young kids. Although she is excited about the upcoming visit with her family, she is dreading spending extended time with Tim. Their marriage has hit a very rough patch and the two are barely speaking to each other. Their relationship has disintegrated to the point that Jess can barely stand to look at him and her flirtation with a neighbor has come very close to crossing the line into infidelity. The time away from their normal routine is just what Jess needs to rediscover the man she fell in love with, but will Tim forgive her if she admits her attraction to another man?
Youngest sister Virgie has a successful career in journalism but she is definitely feeling the stress from her demanding job. She is also in a new relationship with a wonderful man but since he so different from her previous boyfriends, she is a little unsure what comes next for them. She has also been experiencing a few troubling health issues but the symptoms are so vague she finds them easy to ignore. However, a fainting spell lands Virgie in the ER and the diagnosis becomes a crossroads for her.
The sisters’ dad, Arthur, has been floundering since his divorce from Gloria. He is still deeply in love with her and although he maintains his normal daily routine, he is having troubling finishing his latest novel. He still enjoys his volunteer position at a local library but he has picked up a rather strange habit that is vaguely troubling to his daughters. However it is Arthur’s lapses in memory that everyone finds most disconcerting but is his forgetfulness just a natural part of aging?
Written in alternating points of view, The Summer of Good Intentions is a poignant and heartwarming novel with a realistic storyline. Wendy Francis brings the seaside retreat vibrantly to life and the idyllic setting perfectly balances the characters’ weightier issues. The characters are brilliantly developed, likable and although each are facing life altering situations, the plot is delightfully free of angst. A warm and inviting story with a close-knit family whose bonds are strengthened by crisis.