A traditional family trip is fraught with complications in Francis’ (Three Good Things, 2013) second novel.
Each summer, the Herington family comes together at their Cape Cod home to gather more memories to add to their old notebook, “The Book of Summer.” This July, however, the situation is a bit more complicated. Each sister—Maggie, Jess, and Virgie—has been fumbling through her own hectic life, and their parents, Arthur and Gloria, are recently divorced. Eldest sister Maggie is struggling to maintain order and serenity in the house and feels pulled in countless directions to keep up with the needs of her family. Her twin, Jess, is dissatisfied in her marriage, feeling like she no longer connects with her husband, Tim. Things have gotten so bad between them that she's slipped into an emotional affair with a neighbor. Virgie, the baby of the family, is feeling frustrated with her high-stress job as a television news anchor in Seattle and is aggravated when she's passed over for a major story. Arthur, their father, is exhibiting signs of memory loss and has begun to demonstrate a series of bizarre habits since his marriage ended. A mystery writer, he often feels lost as to how to proceed with his latest project and longs for his wife, Gloria, to come back to him. Through some scheduling mishaps, both Arthur and his ex-wife will be vacationing with the girls and their families this summer—along with Gloria’s new boyfriend, Gio. The novel alternates among the perspectives of Maggie, Jess, Virgie, and Arthur as they cope with marital woes, questions of parenthood and career, and Arthur’s declining health and spirits, all while trying to keep their children happy at the beach. Despite the focus being spread over so many characters, Francis has done them justice.
A compassionate and warm family drama filled to the brim with characters who feel like old friends.