Simply the Best
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Readers, this week is a special review of a new novel written by an old and dear friend. When I was growing up in small-town suburbia, I was lucky enough to meet many women that would forever shape the person I became. One such person is my best friend Sarah. We became fast friends in Kindergarten and have been besties ever since. I knew I would love her forever when at my first playdate, Sarah and her sisters made shapes out of their grilled cheeses. The shapes were of the woman who lived down the street, Mrs. Murphy. They also re-enacted Tab commercials at the dinner table. There was lots of imaginative play and laughter when you were at their house. Growing up I was practically an only child as my much older sisters were already out of college, so going to Sarah’s house was thrilling for me. There were always live performances with lots of dress-up, make-up, lemonade stands, and roller skating in their idyllic neighborhood.
I always felt lucky to be included in their sisterhood, if only for an afternoon, while also a little envious of their incredible sister bonds. All three sisters have turned out to be talented, creative women, with amazing families. Amanda, the oldest, is the author of the new book The Jetsetters, and I am thrilled to be able to review it on my blog. I am in awe of Amanda. She has three children and has published seven, yes you heard me right, seven novels with this being her eighth. The fact that she can raise children while also researching and writing every day is amazing. If I can get my kids dressed and fed in the morning it’s an A+ day for me, so Amanda is my idol.
The Jetsetters is a novel about the dysfunctional Perkins family. Their mom, Charlotte, is a widow who enters a chance to win a contest for a 1st class cruise to Europe. Charlotte has dreams of traveling to Europe and reliving her exciting youth when she spent a summer in France. She idealizes a trip with her three grown children as one that will repair their very broken relationships.
Lee is the glamorous oldest sister who escaped to Los Angeles after a broken childhood and a life-changing incident at a home that she wanted to escape from. She has been pursuing her acting career with very little success and barely speaks with her siblings. Cord is the middle child, a recovering alcoholic who is a venture capital executive hoping for one of his companies to make it big. The youngest, Regan, is a married mother of two who at one time had been a talented artist but decided instead to devote her life to her husband and children and trade her art in for pottery painting at the local mall. Finally, there is Charlotte, a 70 ish beautiful widow who has just lost her best friend Minnie. She is sad and lonely and has settled into the monotony of her isolated life. Her nightly routine includes dinner, which consists of a plate of Triscuits, cheddar cheese, a glass or three of chardonnay, and some television or romance novels to keep her company. But after the death of her dear friend, Charlotte decides that she is not ready to accept getting old. She is ready to live again and she wants to start by revisiting the summer when she was 16 and living in France. She enters the contest for the Jetsetters trip because she believes this will be her chance to start her life over.
This book is highly entertaining, funny and at times, incredibly sad. This story delves deep into the lives of three children affected by a father riddled with addiction and a mother who for so long put on a happy face to hide the sadness that she felt every day. As with anyone who grows up in this kind of environment, the kids have anger issues, resentment, attachment, and overall dysfunction. Amanda does a fantastic job of giving you an in-depth look into the psyche of each character. You will come to love each character and you will come to understand their reasons for behaving as they do. Each character has a secret, and as we all know, you can never be your true self to the ones you love when you have something to hide.
Without giving the story away, I can tell you that Charlotte and her three children do sail away aboard the Splendido Marveloso. And as the story unfolds, you will find out what each secret is and how they can move past these secrets to be a family again.
Amanda does such a good job of having her readers come to love her flawed characters even though like any human, they have made mistakes, some bigger than others. I especially love the description of all the beautiful European cities they visited along the way. And her depiction of the actual cruise will make you laugh - she clearly did her research taking a few cruises of her own. Just reading her description of the cruise singer dressed in drag singing Simply the Best will have you chuckling in your chair.
Most importantly, on this 10-day cruise, her characters evolve, heal, and against their better wishes, they will face their problems and no longer pretend they don't exist. You will love this story and will have a hard time putting it down. As I have said before, I am a person who loves a good cover. This cover makes me think of sunshine days in my otherwise bleak CT winter. Lying on a lounge chair in a fabulous red bathing suit has me dreaming of sunshine and warmer weather. The cruising life could be for me!
* For those of you who enjoy this book. Please check out Amanda’s website and read some of her earlier work www.amandaward.com. You won’t be disappointed!
Amanda Eyre Ward
Publication Date: March 3, 2020