July 10, 2018
Blurb: When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise
Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.
Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.
Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?
Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, the rewards could be infinite…
Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
So yesterday I gave you a review of a wonderful and magical novel of women’s fiction, The Lost Queen of Crocker County. Today, however, we have a typical melodramatic representation of women’s fiction. You might wonder why I chose to read it. Well, the only Sarah Morgan novel I’ve read so far was delightful and humorous. The blurb says: witty. A review said: funny. I thought: yes!
While How to Keep a Secret is well-written, I never felt that I was reading something fresh or new. Lauren’s husband dies. She finds out that he’s kept secrets. Not only is she a widow, she has no money and must return to her childhood home, where her sister and mother are also going through life-crises.
Perhaps part of the problem is that I detested Lauren, who, despite there being three generations of women and multiple povs, is supposed to be the heroine. She came across as controlling, whiny, and self-absorbed. As the novel moved on, it frequently seemed as if the loss of her husband of 16 years was an after-thought. Sixteen years is an awful lot of time to spend with someone and then just sweep them away. The fact that she didn’t know their situation wasn’t his fault alone. Or shouldn’t have been, certainly not in 21st century marriages.
The use of four povs also wasn’t an asset because I never felt like we really came to know Jenna, Nancy, and Mack as well as we should (or as I would have liked), not to mention the fact that Jenna’s story was not wrapped up and we never saw what happened at Mack’s school again. Thus a very ambitious story became a package with ribbon left untied.
I did like the sister’s friendship and closeness and wondered if this should have been focused on a bit more. I also liked the fact that Mack and Nancy became close, showing that, despite generations, there doesn’t have to be a gap or misunderstandings.
There were two romances in the novel. One felt right, the other way, way off–unfortunately to explain why would spoil the novel.
In the end, while I came to like the story and most of the characters (never came around to liking Lauren), I think that if the blurb hadn’t led me to believe that I was going to be reading something witty, I might have appreciated it slightly more, or not. In general and on a good day, I feel “meh” about melodrama.
Should you read this novel? Let’s just say that the average review on Goodreads is just a bit over 4.5 stars out of 5, so it’s pretty generally loved. Just because I wasn’t feeling it doesn’t mean that you may not.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies