Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: The Good Woman

By Melissa Amster

Sisters can become your best friends or your worst enemies in the span of a single moment. Some women have known this their whole lives and other women have to learn the truth the hard way. I have only one sister, which is an easy dynamic to navigate, as we were close growing up and still remain close even with different lifestyles and many miles between us. It’s a bond that can never be broken. However, in the case of Meg, Kit, Bree and Sarah, relationships will be tested when one of them makes a huge change in the way she lives her life.

Meg Brennan Roberts has always been the responsible and well behaved sister, always taking care of her younger sisters and helping her parents whenever needed. She’s lived a fairly predictable life, marrying young and having three children of her own, managing their schedules down to the grittiest detail. And to top it off, she runs the public relations for a winery run by two handsome men, one of whom confesses his feelings for her during a business trip. Feeling underappreciated at home, she begins to explore some “what ifs” that put her into a precarious situation with everyone she loves and make her question her role as a wife, mother and woman.

“The Good Woman” is the first novel in a new series about the Brennan sisters. Since Meg is the oldest, it’s only natural that her story would be the first told. We do get a glimpse of what is going on in her sisters’ lives though. While Jane Porter’s previous novels have been written in the first person, this new series puts her characters into third person, while still attributing strong feelings and emotion so that you forget it’s not first person this time around. While I would have preferred first person initially, after a while it didn’t bother me because it is just so well written. However, I would have appreciated the story staying completely focused on Meg. Her sisters will get their turn soon enough. There were times where the focus would shift from Meg to another character within the same scene. Soon we’d be reading Kit or Sarah’s thoughts instead and it became confusing. I didn’t mind when Meg learned about what was going on with her sisters, but I would have preferred it through dialogue instead of hearing her sisters’ thoughts. There also seemed to be a name shift for when the sisters referred to their parents; a minor detail issue, but more consistency would be nice going forward.

Jane has a way of engaging readers immediately and this is the reason she continues to be one of my favorite authors. Once she has me gripped, she doesn’t let go until the very end (making the book impossible to put down), and even then her books stay on my mind for years to come. While I didn’t agree with Meg’s actions in the story, I was glad to see that the consequences were realistic and appropriate for the “crime.” (And yes, the back cover of the book says: "with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating.") What Jane was able to do was make me really understand Meg’s reasons for her actions and even sympathize with her when things blow up in her face. Jane captured all the emotions of the situation so perfectly that I felt like I could relate to Meg, even though I would never do what she did. Meg’s dynamic with her sisters, paralleled by the dynamic with her husband and children, is so interested to read throughout the story. The dialogue is genuine and never once became stale. There were some blush-worthy “romantic” scenes, along with equally blush inducing language to describe them. However, it’s still tame compared to books like “Fifty Shades of Gray” and Jane just knows how to tell it like it is! (Her past novels have made me blush too!) I look forward to reading more of the Brennan sisters series. I’m especially excited for Bree’s story. Even though she’s a thorn in Meg’s side, I have a feeling Jane can do for her what she did for Taylor in “Mrs. Perfect.” I’d also be interested to read more about Cass, even though she’s the sister-in-law. Her story is already harrowing, but needs to be told from her perspective.

Whether you’re a huge Jane Porter fan (like myself) or in the mood to read a story from a new author, you won’t be disappointed with “The Good Woman.”

Thanks to Penguin for the book in exchange for an honest review. We'll be giving away a copy of "The Good Woman" along with Jane's interview. (US only.)

More by Jane Porter

1 comment:

Christine A. said...

Morning! Great review. I can't wait to read this book/series.