The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis
Published by Simon & Schuster, 320 pages, $15
The three Herington sisters’ routine has had the pleasing smoothness of a well-groomed golf course—since childhood, they’ve spent summers at the family house on Cape Cod. But now, suddenly, there’s a sand trap: After 46 years of marriage, their parents have divorced, leaving Maggie, Jess and Virgie in charge of the house, their parents visitors.
In her second novel, local author Wendy Francis follows the summer’s ups and downs. Mother Gloria arrives with her new boyfriend in tow while dad Arthur is still there. Cheerfully self-centered, she and the beau proceed to skinny-dip in his presence, leaving Arthur the sad man out. What’s more, his memory is growing fuzzy, and, seemingly clinging to what remains, he’s started hoarding junk. Fortunately, Arthur has a close connection to his youngest daughter, Virgie—but she too, it turns out, is facing some troubling medical symptoms. Her siblings have their own dramas: Middle sister Jess responds to her husband’s detachment by flirting with a neighbor, while eldest sister Maggie frets over her children growing up too quickly, leading her to contemplate foster parenthood. Shifting focus chapter by chapter, from Maggie to Virgie to Jess to Arthur and back, Francis weaves a tale of love, loss and repair, offering comforting themes and lessons about avoiding the mistakes of our parents.
From page 235: Perhaps Arthur had been coaching her for this moment all along. Life was made up of individual lines of music, a person’s lifetime a mere collection of moments. But it was what a person did with those moments, those discoveries, how she wove them together, that made for the symphony. MS was but one melody playing in Virgie’s life at the moment. In fact, it had probably been playing for some time. She just hadn’t been listening.