Frances Bloom, stay-at-home mother of three, is the connection between four families who live on the same block in Los Angeles. She voluntarily carpools their seven children to school each day, ranging in age from 4-to 14-years old, and often helps in other ways. They all seem to have lives that are working well from outward appearances but that notion gets destroyed when Frances walks into Anne Porter’s home and finds her in the throes of passion on the floor with someone other than her husband Charlie. The repercussions of that affair strips away the doors and walls of each of these families, exposing their truths and realities.
While there are multiple points of view presented, Frances is the dominant and serves as the filter for those that follow. Her insights are raw, outrageously funny and authentic. She’s a reflection of the modern parent who is sincerely working to have meaningful relationships with her children and spouse, making decisions in the moment as to what to let go and what has to be managed. Anne’s betrayal shatters some of that idealism that earned her the nickname (behind her back) of Saint Frances. This is an extremely messy story that’s well written, with humor, irony and heartbreak deftly dispersed throughout the story. The other characters, though having secondary voices, are richly developed and nuanced.
I was hooked from the beginning and there is nothing predictable at all. This is a realistic view of the those in other people’s houses that dismantles preconceived notions of who they are and what they’re managing. I’m definitely going to read more by this author as this is a clever and insightful story on a topic that’s been covered ad nauseum. This is different.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review)