I awoke filled with good intentions for this day ~ a trip to the nursery to buy flowers, perhaps pansies or daisies, something sunny and yellow, then mixing up some chocolate cupcakes and taking a plateful to my neighbor who has been kind enough to place a copy of the newspaper on my porch every day this week after his early morning jaunt to the newstand.
Yet somehow, all those intentions fell by the wayside. I was scattered and restless, flitting from one task to the next without every completing any. My intentions were good, but my heart simply wasn’t in it.
I did complete my book today – an ARC copy of Best Intentions, by Emily Listfield. It was a fast, page turning read, the kind of book that catches you up in the momentum of the story and keeps you there. A trio of college friends – Lisa Barkley, a New York City public relations director, her husband Sam, an investigative reporter, and her best friend Deirdre, a fashionable boutique owner – reunite with Jack, Deirdre’s former flame, and within 24 hours their carefully balanced lives have been jarred by suspicion, jealousy, and deception. It’s Lisa who bears the brunt of the upheaval, coming face to face with a cascading set of circumstances which call into question her deepest beliefs about the people she loves and the past she cherished. The stakes become even higher when the mayhem turns to murder, and Lisa confronts the fact that someone close to her could be a killer.
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 life. 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.
Best Intentions is described as a novel of “domestic suspense,” a genre with which I wasn’t familiar, but which certainly describes what makes this book different from a typical thriller of mystery. Relationships are at the heart of the book – family, friends, and colleagues – and the assumptions we make about those whom we’re closest to. How well do we really know the people with whom we live and work? There is a peculiar kind of terror in the thought that the people we trust could completely betray us, or act in ways totally antithetical to our expectations. And as Lisa and Sam drift further apart, Lisa “tries to remember when the distance grew so great between us that we were both too scared to try to traverse it with words, terrified of what we might hear. Or say. Instead we fell victims to guesswork, the most dangerous proposition of all when it comes to love.” And so the movement of the story is propelled by the intensity and variability of emotions among the characters as much as it is by their actions.
Best Intentions also takes the reader into the world of upper crust Manhattan, the elite world of private schools, high intensity marketing and publishing, and boutique shopping. It’s a world with which author Listfield – a former magazine editor and Manhattan resident – is all too familiar. “One of the aspects of writing Best Intentions that I enjoyed most was the social observation,” Listfield writes. “I’m a downtown Manhattan single mom with a daughter in an elite Upper East Side private school. Trust me, these are very different worlds… and irresistible to a novelist, ripe for irony and humor!”
Listfield describes herself as your “basic pulled-in-a-million directions New Yorker.” Her last novel, Waiting to Surface, is a fictionalized account of her husband’s disappearance while swimming off the coast of Florida. In addition to writing novels (Best Intentions is her seventh), she continues to write “for every magazine known to man,” and serves as a contributing editor for Parade.
She also maintains a blog, Brunch Babble, a paean to women’s friendships (like Lisa and Deirdre’s), and a place to “talk, laugh, disagree about the big and small stuff, have fun, having something to say…”
And we’re all invited.
GIVEAWAY NOTICE: You can win your own copy of Best Intentions by simply leaving a comment here! A winner will be chosen on May 5, 2009 (the official release date for the novel).
UPDATE: The winner (chosen by random selection) was Litlove 🙂
Best Intentions, by Emily Listfield
Published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster
(publication date, May 5, 2009)