A lonely 71-year-old widow wins a trip to Europe and takes her three grown children in an attempt to reconnect with them.
One-time mediocre realtor and long-time widow Charlotte Perkins lives in Savannah, Georgia. When her best friend dies, she realizes just how lonely she has become and how she has lost touch with her grown children, two of whom refuse to speak to each another. Charlotte believes that her eldest daughter, Lee, is an actress on the cusp of success in Los Angeles; that her son, Cord, is a successful venture capitalist in New York City waiting to find the right woman; and that her youngest, Regan, is a happily married stay-at-home mother of two. She doesn’t know that Lee is in massive debt, cannot find work, and is living in a La Quinta hotel; that Cord is a struggling-to-stay-sober alcoholic who is happily engaged to a man he adores; and that Regan dreams of murdering her detested husband, whom she regrets marrying after her sister broke his heart. Charlotte herself is not the pious Catholic church lady everyone thinks she is—she is desperate to find a man, have sex, and live out the naughty pages of her romance books. Everyone in the family is adept at hiding their emotions and themselves from one another. Charlotte hopes to bring them all together again by entering a contest for a cruise through Europe. And she wins. Author Ward (The Nearness of You, 2017, etc.) has created a complex story that explores the tragedies and long-term effects of withheld love, verbal abuse, alcoholism, and depression on individuals and their families, set against the backdrop of a splendidly gaudy, over-the-top Mediterranean cruise ship and its historic ports of call. Open, optimistic, caring, romantic, and thoughtful Giovanni—Cord’s fiance—is a highlight of the book.
No one, and no relationship, is perfect in this story, which embraces the messiness of love and life.