Title: So Happy Together
Author: Maryann McFadden
Release Date: July 7, 2009
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
Claire Noble gave up on her dreams a long time ago. A single mother and respected history teacher, she has also been caring for her aging parents. But now it’s finally Claire’s turn. She has fallen in love with Rick Saunders, who is offering her both security and the opportunity to travel. Before their fall wedding, she will be leaving for a summer on Cape Cod, where the fabled light has been luring artists for a century; and the chance of a lifetime to study with one of the most noted photographers in the country.
But just as Claire is about to step into her new life, her estranged daughter suddenly shows up with a backpack full of problems. Claire’s father reveals a fifty-year-old secret that threatens to unravel their family. Her mother confides that at seventy-eight years old, she’s still waiting for the love of her life. And a chance encounter with an environmental writer results in an intriguing new relationship, undermining Claire’s certainty that she’s found the man with whom she hopes to spend the rest of her life. In the midst of all this turbulence, Claire begins to question everything she thought she wanted. And surprisingly, so do her mother and her daughter.
I was excited to receive Maryann McFadden’s second book from the Amazon Vine program. I enjoyed her first book, The Richest Season [review], and was excited to open what looked like a perfect beach read.
So Happy Together was indeed a wonderful beach read, and much more. I loved how Claire had her future completely figured out at the beginning of the book. This wasn’t a novel about a women starting at the bottom and rebuilding her life, like most novels of this genre. Instead, it was about a women who had closed one chapter in her life and was looking to start another. However, life got in the way and slowly but surely, Claire’s carefully laid plans came apart at the seams.
Amy, Claire’s daughter, was a different story. She had so much anger towards her mother – it was obviously misplaced and made her a difficult character to like at the beginning of So Happy Together. She also has a tendency to lie, which made her untrustworthy. Though she softens through the course of the novel, she never quite redeems herself, especially considering how selfishly she acted.
So Happy Together isn’t perfect by any means – it’s definitely on the long side, though the level of involvement with the character helps with that. It might be a little wordy, with too many descriptions, but McFadden has created a wonderfully rich character that the reader cares about with Claire.
The aspect of So Happy Together I found most interesting was the question of self-centeredness. Though it isn’t directly addressed in the book, the entire novel seems to be about the balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of those around you. Where does that balance lie? If you decide to do something for yourself, but as a result you can’t take care of your mother, does that make you selfish?
I enjoyed So So Happy Together, despite its flaws. It’s very different than the typical women’s fiction/romance novel. If you’re looking for a solid beach read, look no further!