Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review - Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

published 5/09
338 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

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.

My thoughts:

This novel really took my by surprise. I expected a nice chick-lit novel, with some suspense thrown in, that I could breeze through in a couple of hours. What I didn't expect was the intense, thorough examination of what it means to truly love someone, and what happens when that love is shattered by a lie.

Listfield does an excellent job of getting into her main character's head - I felt completely in tune with Lisa's emotions as she delves deeper and deeper into the hidden parts of her loved ones' lives. I occasionally felt frustrated with her when she made decisions I didn't agree with, but that just served to make her seem more real. The secondary characters were not quite as well developed, but were each strong enough in their own right to form a solid supporting cast for the lead.

And I loved the writing. In fact, several times I found myself thinking, "Boy, this woman can write." I loved the way she formed her sentences, her word choice - it all resonated with me. Here are a couple of my favorite passages:

"Suspicion crackles and pulls, nags and infiltrates, it coils around your brain, distorting your perceptions, it is the smoke you see everything through that refuses to lift. But a lie, hard and indisputable, freezes in your lungs, its ice spreading through your pores, chilling every synapse; a lie once discovered paralyzes you."

"I begin to cry softly. I don't know what happens to the space people you love take up in your heart once they are gone, if the muscle eventually closes over it or if the wound is always there, aching and raw. All I know is that it feels a million miles wide tonight."

I was so happily surprised by this novel. It is apparently the author's sixth - I am now immediately going to look for the first five. I definitely recommend this one!

Finished: 6/11/09
Source: Lauren
Rating: 8/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

S. Krishna's Books
She Is Too Fond of Books
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Word Lily
Open Mind, Insert Book


Diane said...

What a great review. I've been wondering about this one. Now I'm hoping to read this one this summer. Thanks

bermudaonion said...

Everyone seems to love this book. I really want to read it after all the great reviews.

Emily said...

Thanks for the great review! I love getting feedback from readers.

Literary Feline said...

I've been hearing such wonderful things about this book. It definitely sounds like something I would like. Thanks for your great review!

Holly said...

I've only seen good reviews about this one. I need to check it out.

Jenners said...

I was pleasantly surprised by this one too! It offered so much more than I was expected to believe by the book jacket and blurbs! Always a nice surprise when you get more than expected. Great review.

mar10123 said...

Finished this one last night. Seemed a little like a "movie-of-the-week" to me. Ending was predictable, and a little too "happily-ever-after," given all the anguish the characters had gone through.