Narrator: Jane Green
Published by Penguin Audio on June 6, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 11 hours, 57 minutes
Audio | Goodreads
The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.
Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.
As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother's overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother's criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London--and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother's fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.
But now the Sunshine sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother's illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all...
Ronni Sunshine is a famous but mildly aging actress and the mother of three daughters. By her own admission, she failed as a parent, so much so that as adults, they have very little interaction with her or each other. In fact, her middle daughter, Meredith, moved abroad to London in order to put some serious distance between them. Now that Ronni is facing a serious illness, she wants to make things right with her daughters and bring them together at her home in Connecticut.
I found this story fascinating in how Ronni’s narcissism and self absorption manifested itself in each of her daughters. The eldest, Nell, became aloof and emotionally challenged, except when it came to her son. Her middle daughter, Meredith, who had weight issues all of her life, couldn’t have lower self esteem. The youngest, Lizzy, is most like Ronni in personality and temperament, also following a self destructive path with her marriage. The story shifts back and forth to each character during pivotal moments of time from childhood to present day. At times it was confusing but overall it was effective in creating vivid images of all of them and made for an interesting story.
Throughout most of the book, I didn’t find any of them likable but that slowly evolved to a healthy respect by the end. I cared what happened to them, even Ronni, and found myself pulling for them to find their way. Narrated by the author, the story was made even more distinctive by her performance, which isn’t always the case when the writer takes this on. The benefit, however, is the narrator knows the intended nuances and in this case, it worked. It’s my first by this author and now I’ll seek out other titles as I very much enjoyed this one.
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