The Good Daughter by Jane Porter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Love was given to all, except herself . . . Kit
Brennan has always been the most grounded of her sisters. A Catholic
school English teacher for seventeen years and a constant giver, her
decisions have been sound—just not very satisfying. Her fortieth
birthday is right around the corner, causing Kit to consider some wilder
notions, like skipping right past the love and marriage to raising a
child all by herself . . . A girls’ weekend away is just the reprieve
Kit needs from school, Mr. Wrongs, and life-changing decisions. It’s
there that she meets a man who’s dangerous; a man who challenges who she
thought she was, or rather should be. Kit wants to indulge
herself this once, but with one of her students in crisis and the weight
of her family’s burdens weighing heavy on her heart, Kit isn’t sure if
now is the time to let her own desires take flight . . .
My thoughts: Jane Porter is one of my favorite Chick Lit authors. Chick lit is not romance, by the way. A good book of this genre delves into relationships. This is what Porter has proved to be wise beyond her years.
This is the second book of a series starring a family of four daughters and one son. All grown and and all dealing with the throes of middle age growing pains. The first book was mostly about Meg, the oldest sister. I absolutely loved The Good Woman. Porter pulled no punches when writing about infidelity. She doesn't skip over the hard parts like when the spouse confesses and the fallout that follows. You can read my review of that book so I'll stop ranting and raving about it, but the character and story development was thorough and ended at a good spot in time. Not completely resolved but well enough to end the book.
We also met the rest of the clan. Tommy and Cass were struggling with Cass's infertility. Kit and her fraternal twin, Brianna were introduced. Both single and pushing forty. Rounding out the children was Sarah, 32, mother of 2 and married to Boone, pro baseball player. They'd survived Boone's infidelity. The parents were middle class, retired from working, Catholic Irish folks. The mother, Lynn, had terminal cancer.
Finally, I am ready to start The Good Daughter. This one is mostly about Kit, although a fraternal twin, she is the middle child. She is the peace maker and the rock of the generation. She teaches middle school and has finally ended a ten year relationship with a man that was solid but non-committal. And that's where we begin.
Kit is not necessarily ready to enter the single fray. Regardless, she finds herself dipping a toe in the waters and joins an online dating service which proves to be disappointing. She inadvertently meets some guy at a bar who introduces himself then tracks her number down. He is aggressive in his approach and she wants nothing more to do with him. But he is creepy and oddly persistent.
For a semi-triangle (although Kit has no interest in Man #1), we meet a tattooed, long haired, and somewhat PWT-ish Jude. He rides an orange motorcycle and is incredibly appealing to Kit. Strange because he is everything Kit has never wanted. Of course, both men have their secret lives and it becomes apparent they will both be forced upon her in one way or another. So Kit grapples with what she wants and the expectations of being the "good" daughter. She grapples with her Catholic faith and right and wrong. Lastly, Kit is the mainstay for her mother who is at the end stages of her cancer.
The book can stand on its own. It doesn't need to be read with the first book of the series. On the other hand, it felt more like a bridge to me than a complete story. It doesn't show so much growth in Kit as it continues the story of the family and, I would guess, sets the stage for the next book. Although not central to the story, there were still some hanging threads that need to be addressed. The man Kit chose was still mysterious. Brianna is hiding a secret regarding her health. Some childhood memories arise for both twins that explain why each chose their paths.
I loved the writing and the way Porter delves into the realness of relationships, both good and bad. I didn't love it as much as The Good Woman. It started feeling like a soap opera at one point but that is not to say it isn't a good, even great book. It's a nice diversion and probably contains a good starting point for the next one. It could be that I feel slightly disappointed because I can't empathize as much with Kit as I did with Meg due to marital status and parental obligations. I still highly recommend.
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