Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Review: Best Intentions

Summary: What happens when you think you know the person you love -- and you're dead wrong?

From the acclaimed author of Waiting to Surface comes the story of four college friends whose reunion reawakens old desires and grudges -- with fatal results.

After tossing and turning all night, thirty-nine-year-old Lisa Barkley wakes up well before her alarm sounds. With two daughters about to start another year at their elite Upper East Side private school and her own career hitting a wall, the effort of trying to stay afloat in that privileged world of six-story town houses and European jaunts has become increasingly difficult, especially as Manhattan descends into an economic freefall.

As Lisa looks over at her sleeping husband, Sam, she can't help but feel that their fifteen-year marriage is in a funk that she isn't able to place. She tries to shake it off and tells herself that the strain must be due to their mounting financial pressures. But later that morning, as her family eats breakfast in the next room, Lisa finds herself checking Sam's voicemail and hears a whispered phone call from a woman he is to meet that night. Is he having an affair?

When Lisa shares her suspicions with her best friend, Deirdre, at their weekly breakfast, Deirdre claims it can't be true. But how can Lisa fully trust her opinion when Deirdre is still single and mired in an obsessive affair with a glamorous photographer even as it hovers on the edge of danger?

When Deirdre's former college flame, Jack, comes to town and the two couples meet to celebrate his fortieth birthday, the stage is set for an explosive series of discoveries with devastating consequences.

Filled with suspense and provocative questions about the relationships we value most, Best Intentions is a tightly woven drama of love, friendship and betrayal. -- Atria

I usually think that I have a pretty good grasp on knowing about books that I'd enjoy. But evidently, I'm living under a rock -- and in this case, a very big rock because I wasn't familiar with the novel BEST INTENTIONS by Emily Listfield. When I first read the description, I just knew if was a book that I had to read and probably one that I'd enjoy. I was right! I really, really liked BEST INTENTIONS.

I couldn't put this book down, and it definitely captured my attention from the very start! Even before the murder part of the storyline was introduced, I was already caught up in Lisa's life as a mother and a wife. While I am approximately the same age as Lisa, I can't really say that I related to her; and I'm not even sure that I really liked her all that much. However, I loved her as the narrator of the story. I thought her insecurities about her job and marriage made for great reading; and I definitely thought seeing the story through her eyes made it all the more interesting. When Lisa's entire life (her marriage, friendships, career, etc.) was turned upside-down, I really felt as if the author made her behavior realistic; and I eventually found myself feeling a great deal of compassion for her.

One of the main reasons for that was I loved how this book toyed with my mind. There were so many twists and turns as well as questions of betrayal by almost all of the characters that I found myself really having a hard time figuring out who was responsible for Deirdre's death. Every time I thought I had it figured out, the author would add one more thing to further confuse me. In addition, I found myself doubting Lisa's husband, her marriage and even her friendship with Deirdre -- much in the same way that Lisa was throughout this novel. I realize that I was only getting Lisa's viewpoint on everything because she was the narrator of this story, but it made for quite the suspenseful and intriguing story.

As I mentioned earlier, I am so disappointed in myself for never having read any books by Ms. Listfield. However, on the positive side, I love that I've found a "new-to-me" author; and I can't wait to go back and read her earlier works. I absolutely loved her writing style and I found many of her characters' insights into life as quite honest and refreshing. I thought she did an amazing job of telling this story and creating questions not only in her characters' minds but in my mind as well. If you'd like to learn more about Ms. Listfield and the background on BEST INTENTIONS, you can check out this very interesting interview with her. She also has a great website and blog that I enjoyed looking at -- you might want to visit her blog because she is running a five book giveaway this week for BEST INTENTIONS.

I absolutely recommend BEST INTENTIONS for a book club pick because I think it will be a terrific discussion book. BEST INTENTIONS will probably be a departure from your normal book club picks because of the mystery/murder aspect; however, don't let that deter you from choosing it. The characters and their relationships are very complex and will be sure to stir up some controversy. I can guarantee that there won't be a lack of things to discuss. I was so happy when I found this reading guide because I think the questions are very thought-provoking. I was also excited to see that the reading guide had some suggestions for ways to enhance your book club meeting. Some of the ideas sounded fun especially the one which involves looking at a map of Manhattan and trying to figure out what places in the novel were real.

Make sure you stop by tomorrow because I will be posting a guest essay by Emily Listfield that you won't want to miss.

A big thanks to Lauren for sending me a copy of BEST INTENTIONS! I am so very grateful.


Anonymous said...

That sounds like an awesome book! Thank you for sharing what it was about and your review!!

I am having a giveaway on my blog, stop in and check it out!

Unknown said...

I am so glad you liked BEST INTENTIONS!
Hearing from readers, knowing you reached someone is what keeps writers going.I'd love to keep the conversation going!
Best, Emily

Anna said...

I haven't heard of this author or book, but I'm glad you reviewed this one. It sounds great.

Diary of an Eccentric

bermudaonion said...

The book sounds so good. I was hesitant about it at first because of the cover - it just doesn't seem to fit the story.

Michele said...

Sounds quite intriguing! I'm adding it to my tbr list now! Thanks for a new book and a new-to-me too author!

Jess said...

I read this book as well and loved it. Great review.

Jo-Jo said...

What a great review Julie. This one has definitely caught my attention.

Beth F said...

I have this near the top of TBR. Can't wait to read it.

Ti said...

I've seen three reviews of this one so far and all have been favorable. I've not heard of the author either but I agree, it's fun to find "new to me" authors isn't it?

Darlene said...

I'm so glad to hear you really liked this one Julie. I'll be reviewing it at the end of the month. It's such a great feeling when you make such a good book and author discovery, isn't it.

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this book as well. The best part for me was not knowing who I could trust while I was reading the novel. It makes you ask how you know you really can trust someone. Great review!

Jill said...

I have really been anticipating getting my hands on this one. She first came on to my radar with Waiting to Surface, which I really enjoyed. So glad to hear that her latest delivers! Great review...

Belle said...

This sounds like a great book. I've read a few people now who loved the fact that the murderer could have been anyone!

Nicole said...

As you saw in my post, I loved this book, too. I wasn't familiar with Emily Listfield before, either, but I'm definitely going to check her out more.

Great review!