It is always nice to see a writer improve their skills and abilities! Sheila Curran has done it with Everyone She Loved. Her last book Diana Lively is Falling Down was a fun read and you could see that this was a writer with potential.
The part about Diana Lively is Falling Down that I really liked best was her ability to create fully dimensional, complex characters that practically walked off the page into my living room. These characters had complex and surprising inner (and outer) lives that somehow made sense even when they shouldn't have.
Everyone She Loved shows that Curran's skill at characterization is still in tact and that her ability to plot a story has markedly improved. Her characters still make sense; even when they shouldn't. She is beginning to live up to her full potential as an author.
This is an intricately plotted novel with at least eight distinct story lines interwoven through out the book. And happily, Curran actually resolves all of them by the end. And if that is not enough, she manages to take a bunch of basically very unlikable people, in wildly unlikely circumstances and makes you care about them and what happens to them. That in and of it's self is an amazing feat!
The premise that a rich, neurotic philanthropist would somehow arrange for all of her friends to either work for her foundation or move into the town her family "owns" is a little strange. The idea that her husband would agree to having her friends could pick his next wife in the event of her demise is implausible. The idea that her British cousins somehow gain unfettered access to the foundation is unlikely. But somehow, against all odds, the story works.
Mostly the characters are self involved and clueless. A couple are downright despicable. But they are fully developed and much like watching a train wreck -- you can't stop watching; or in this case, reading. The character's actually pulled me through the plot twists and turns.
If you are looking for an engrossing read, start here.
A wise and triumphant novel about four women who've come of age together only to discover that -- when it comes to the essentials -- life's little instruction book will always need revising.
Penelope Cameron, loving mother, devoted wife and generous philanthropist, has convinced her husband and four closest friends to sign an outlandish pact. If Penelope should die before her two daughters are eighteen, her husband will not remarry without the permission of Penelope's sister and three college roommates. For years, this contract gathers dust until the unthinkable happens.
Suddenly, everyone she loved must find their way in a world without Penelope.For Lucy Vargas, Penelope's best friend, and a second mother to her daughters, nothing seems more natural than to welcome them into a home that had once belonged to their family, a lovely, sprawling bed-and-breakfast on the beach. This bequest was only one of the many ways in which Penelope had supported Lucy's career as a painter, declaring her talent too important to squander. But now, in the wake of a disaster that only lovable, worrisome Penelope could have predicted, Lucy has put her work on hold as she and Penelope's husband, Joey, blindly grasp at anything that will keep the girls from sinking under the weight of their grief.With the help of family and friends, the children slowly build new lives. But just when things start to come together, the fragile serenity they have gained is suddenly threatened from within, and the unbreakable bonds they share seem likely to dissolve after all.
In this entertaining and uplifting novel, Sheila Curran explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family and the many ways in which romantic entanglements will confound and confuse even the most determined of planners. A story about growing up and moving on, about the sacrifices people make for one another and the timeless legacy of love, Everyone She Loved is, above all, about the abiding strength of friendship.