Author: Jane Green
Published: June 2015, St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, 308 pages
Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.
June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.
June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.
My thoughts: I've read quite a few books by Jane Green and usually end up listening to them, as they are excellent on audio, but since I was sent a copy of the print edition of this book, I decided to read it. Well, I devoured it over the course of two days...it was such an engaging and powerful read about the effects of alcoholism and emotional abuse on a family. And having the book partly set in Nantucket didn't hurt, either - one of my all-time favorite places to imagine being at, especially during the summer-time. I swear one of these days I am going to get there!
I really liked the character of Cat, both at her worst and her best. I felt that Jane Green made her both a likeable character and at times a not-so-likeable character and that made her feel more believeable. We get a very up-close and personal view of her struggles with her addiction to alcohol and it's not until Cat decides to stop drinking for herself does she become successful with AA. I also appreciated getting an inside look at the program itself. I've heard of AA and have seen plenty of shows that touch upon it, but really felt that Jane Green took us into the daily struggles of someone living the life of what these meetings come to mean for them and how the stages apply to their life.
This book is also about family relationships - between mothers and daughters, sisters, husbands and wives, and fathers and daughters. Some of these relationships are new and tenuous, and some have been mired with secrets, secrets that once revealed have both good and bad consequences. I loved seeing Cat get to know her new family, but was weary of her sisters. I just felt that not all was as it seemed. I also loved the relationship Cat had with her mom later in life. Audrey was a very interesting character and I really enjoyed the chapters devoted to her - I could even see a whole book being written about her, as I felt Jane just scratched the surface on her.
There's so much to think about when reading this book and so much to take away from it. While this is a great summer read, it's certainly not a light, fluffy read. It has substance, it has characters that go through hard times and make you think about it. It's relatable, honest and powerful and I haven't stopped thinking about the story since I finished reading it.