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by Claire Cook

Pub Date: June 8th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4013-4116-9
Publisher: Strebor/Simon & Schuster

Another female-empowering, feel-good novel from Cook, who in this seventh outing (The Wildwater Walking Club, 2009, etc.) cautions against the return of the bad husband.

Jill gets by, but just barely. Seven years ago, her husband Seth left for Africa and the Peace Corps with little more than a goodbye note, leaving Jill and their three-year-old daughter Anastasia destitute. Slowly Jill has built a modest life for herself—she owns a house (luckily the questionable neighborhood has become safely gentrified) and has a few jobs that pay the bills: offering weekly lessons in international cuisine at the community center; as a call operator at Great Girlfriend Getaways; and the occasional consulting gig in international relations. Jill is smart, but working herself up from the nothing that Seth left her with has taken its toll. Just as the present is beginning to seem pretty good, Seth returns. After seven years without a call or letter, let alone child support, Seth is hoping Jill and Anastasia will forgive him. Anastasia is thrilled to have a daddy and the gifts are great; Jill is seething. Everything becomes quickly complicated: Seth and Anastasia are developing a wonderful relationship; Seth wants to return to their marriage; then Jill and Seth sleep together, and, really, it wasn’t so bad. Jill wonders if she shouldn’t just forgive Seth and allow the three of them to move on. But then there’s Billy, a client of Jill’s who is smart and funny and grown up in ways Seth never was. What’s a gal to do? Go to Costa Rica on a Girlfriend Getaway and hope a little yoga, belly dancing and girl time will sort it all out. Cook hits her marks—exploring the role of single women as they try to navigate work and family—all with good-natured humor and a little examination of what it means to be independent (it’s not all fun).

Hardly groundbreaking, but a beach tote couldn’t ask for more.