Relationship drama but a bit tepid
I was a HUGE fan of Sweeney’s first book, The Nest, when it was released so seeing she finally was publishing a second work was exciting. The cover for this book is stunning and the plot seemed intriguing and in line with the style of The Nest, so I had high hopes.
It’s possible my hopes were a little TOO high.
Good Company mainly circulates around Flora Mancini, a former actress turned voice-over artist and her relationship with her husband, Julian; her daughter, Ruby; and her best friend Margot, now a popular TV actress. When preparing a gift for Ruby’s high school graduation, Flora comes across an envelope containing Julian’s wedding ring. The exact ring he claimed to have lost in the sea over a decade earlier. From there Flora searches for the truth behind her husband and marriage as well as re-evaluating the life choices she’s made to follow him and his theatre group, The Good Company, while sacrificing a lot of her own dreams and passions for so long. Also, her best friend Margot feeds into the secret and is also the favorite of Ruby.
The story is mostly told in the present day with occasional jumps back in time for backstory purposes. I found some of these jumps to be needlessly confusing but overall they served the story fine for setting up what’s lead to the current drama. I wish there had been chapter delineations to tell the reader when we were experiencing a flashback, but that’s a personal reading pet peeve of mine more than an actual issue with the text.
SPOILER ALERT here, but one of the reasons I was intrigued with this title right off the bat was that the summary indicated (at least to me) the possibility of drama between Flora, Julian and her best friend Margot, similar to the familial drama of The Nest. I was slightly disappointed here because the drama barely exists between Flora and Margot at all. Margot doesn’t tell Flora something that happened decades earlier. That’s it. Sure, it’s a big secret, but the pay off of Margot and Flora’s relationship felt so trivial by the end, I wasn’t sure why we had to read SO much of Margot’s perspective in the book.
It’s impossible not the compare to the author’s first work, especially considering there are so many similarities, so I won’t pretend like I wasn’t comparing them as I read. The reason why the Nest was so popular was it was a book about a family of entirely unlikeable people but there were enough relatable situations that, as a reader, you could see how someone could end up in that situation. I felt like with Good Company I couldn’t find myself relating to either the characters nor any of their situations as rich/upper middle class actors/thespians. Of course you don’t need to relate to characters in every book, but it made the book a bit boring overall. I kept waiting for there to be a big moment but I never felt like we got there. We don’t even know about the ring until almost 100 pages in, instead reading chapter after chapter about Margot being a TV star with a bit of an attitude. The only character who seemed like they could be a stand in for a relatively “normal” person is David, Margot’s husband, and he’s still a renowned doctor. There wasn’t nearly enough David in this as I found his story to be the most interesting.
Overall this was a pleasant beach/summer read. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, and Sweeney is a fantastic author. She really sucks you into the setting of her stories and makes them feel real. I only wish the story was a little bit more interesting to keep me gripped to the page rather than skimming as I went along.
Title: Good Company
Author: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Three Descriptors: Character-driven, Intricately plotted, Reflective
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