Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: The Good Daughter by Jane Porter

When you read a book with several characters you'd like to see more of, it's always satisfying to find out that the book is in fact part of a series. In the case of Jane Porter's Brennan Sisters series, there are four sisters and a sister-in-law who are potential main characters for their own books. Readers were introduced to the Brennan family and invited into oldest sister Meg's life in The Good Woman. This time it's the selfless sister, the daughter who puts everyone else before herself, Kit, whose story is front and center.

Kit spent ten years living with a man who turned out to be Mr. Wrong and who was unwilling to recognize that what Kit, a homebody devoted to her parents and siblings, wanted more than anything was a family of her own. As the novel opens, she is heading towards forty, settling into her new home, and coming to understand what she most wants her future to look like. She's a wonderful, caring, and involved teacher at a Catholic school. She's a dutiful and compliant daughter who cares deeply about her parents and who is devastated that her mother has terminal cancer. She's the level-headed, peacemaking sister who wants the best for her siblings and their families. She's a good and loyal friend. As amazing as she sounds, she isn't completely satisfied with her own personal life. She has decided to write off men, especially after her foray into internet dating is disastrous but she can't shake her deep-seated desire to be a mother even if that means she'll have to go it alone, something which her devoutly Catholic family would find it hard to approve.

While on a girl's weekend at her family's cottage, she meets the very definition of a bad boy, a sexy, motorcycle-riding, tattooed man named Jude who remembers once meeting her wild twin Brianna. She is drawn to him but she knows that this tough, long-haired guy who reeks of danger and trouble is everything that her family disapproves of so she tries to put him out of her mind. Meanwhile, back at home, she's met an attractive but pushy man named Michael who insists on a date and leaves Kit feeling oddly disturbed. As she sorts out her feelings and uncovers the stories behind who each of these men are, she is also grappling with her grief over her mother's end stage cancer, worrying about the home life of a seriously troubled student, filling out the paperwork to adopt as a single woman approaching forty, and uncovering the suppressed memories which form the roots of her inability to stand up for herself.

There is a lot going on in this appearances can be deceiving tale. Kit is on a journey of self-discovery, learning to nurture herself as much as she nurtures everyone else around her. Because of her heartfelt and frequent involvement as her dying mother's caretaker and her concern for her student Delilah, sometimes Kit's story takes a backseat to the other big issues in the novel. The revelation of her own repressed memories comes across as minor given the bigger and more menacing instances of abuse here but both are awful and horrific and should be equally weighted.

 Kit as a character is big-hearted and likable and her inner life is well drawn. The secondary characters are not as front and center here as they might have been because so much of what is going on is Kit's own emotional reactions and her examination of her own heart as much as it is her search for outside love and connection. This makes the ending of the book rather abrupt though, as if some of the important plot happened off the page. There are quite a few very deep issues included here, some touched on briefly and others used as major plot points, so this would be a book that could generate a lot of discussion in a book group. Like its prequel, the book might try to tackle too many issues though, causing it to start to have a bit of an "everything but the kitchen sink" feel to it but overall it was a quick and satisfying read and regular readers of women's literature will certainly be happy to have spent more time with another of the Brennan sisters.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good read... Too bad I have sworn off series for a awhile.

    Nice Review.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts