On Day 2 of #RARM20, I’m talking books I’ve binged this year. (You can read a bit more about this in today’s Suzanne Brockmann – Bingeworthy! post.)
Who can resist Kristin Higgins?! No other writer manages the roller coaster experience of laugh-out-loud humor and deep emotion quite like KH.
There are very few authors I reread (or re-listen to) but Higgins is one, and as I eagerly awaited her early summer release, ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW, I revisited a few of my beloved Blue Heron titles. (happy sigh.)
But then, at last, my library granted my request and bought the audio for ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW and I happily settled back into Stoningham, Connecticut (where we last landed in LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES. It was fun to see peeks of the characters from that book.)
KH has truly shifted from romance to women’s fiction, though her romance was always deeper than most, and touched on more complicated emotions than a typical romance novel.
In ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW, art teacher and struggling artist Sadie Frost has to put her life in New York City on hold after her father has a stroke. She was always Daddy’s girl while her sister Juliet was her mother Barb’s favorite, and as the three women navigate their new reality, they must also come to terms with a lifetime’s worth of misunderstandings and misconceptions about one another.
Barb, a no-nonsense Midwesterner, has devoted her life to her daughter Juliet and her beloved town. Her marriage to John has been fading for years, and she’s just decided to ask him for a divorce when he has a massive, debilitating stroke and she discovers he’s having an affair while she’s at the hospital, learning he’ll likely never regain full use of his body or his faculties.
Meanwhile Sadie must contend with the boy she left behind because their hopes and dreams couldn’t mesh, despite their intense love for one another. And Juliet, an architect, has to endure a young, beautiful professional colleague who’s gaining star status without doing the work, and the firm which is placing her in the shadows despite her long-standing talent, hard work and loyalty.
As usual, Higgins deals with all of these complicated emotional landmines with sensitivity and wit. Forgiveness for themselves and each other is at the heart of their healing, sprinkled with self-acceptance, new appreciation for their true selves thanks to their forced proximity, and a genuine shift in attitude toward the lives they’ve created juxtaposed to the lives they may want now that they’re older, wiser and a little more clear on what matters to the people they are now.
KH always writes gorgeous books. I only wish we didn’t have to wait another year or so for the next one. (resigned sigh)
If you haven’t discovered Kristan Higgins yet, you have some amazing reading in front of you. If for any reason you haven’t picked this one up yet, don’t hesitate for one second more.
(This review is part of Read-A-Romance Month. Hope you’ll come back every day to check out my book recommendations. You can find the calendar here. Also check out The Romance of Reading, a Facebook “book club” where we’ll have great authors guest hosting every week.)
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