The lovely doctor Abby Hart lives in her dream cottage in the quintessential English border town of Ludbury, home to the Goodmans.
Maggie Goodman, all fire and passion, is like another mother to her, amiable Richard a rock and 60s-child Celia is the grandmother she never had.
But Abby has a secret. Best friend Jude Goodman is the love of her life, and very, very straight. Even if Jude had ever given a woman a second glance, there’d also be the small problem of Maggie – she would definitely not approve.
But secrets have a habit of sneaking out, and Abby’s not the only one with something to hide. Life is just about to get very interesting for the Goodmans.
Things are not what they used to be, but could they be even better?
“If you ever wanted to know how straight women become lesbians, how lesbians fall in love, make love and almost ruin love, The Goodmans is the book for you!” – TT Thomas
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If you ever wanted to know how straight women “become” lesbians, how lesbians fall in love, make love and almost ruin love, The Goodmans is the book for you!
I didn’t know how, or if, British author Clare Ashton would be able to match her best-selling Poppy Jenkins until I read The Goodmans and realized Ashton has done it again—and beautifully with this carefully crafted, lyrical celebration of romantic dysfunction, generational secrets and broken hearts trying to be made whole again! The Goodmans is a DramaCom hiding inside a RomCom that mysteriously escaped from Ashton’s talented mind and goes straight to our hearts.
In the laugh out loud scenarios and reenactments that Ashton applies genius to, we find ourselves caught somewhere between “Ah ha!” and “Oh My God, NO!” The Goodmans are not the every family of modern day, but close enough for a serious DSM case history review. In other words, the whole family is falling apart—and “there goes the neighborhood” is the least of it. Lives are changing, hearts are changing, relationships are changing, and no family handles it worse than The Goodmans.
The poignancy of the hard charging mother, Maggie Goodman, suddenly feeling useless in her world is a brilliant and memorable character study; the father, Richard Goodman moves from cheese brick family stalwart to crumbling feta emo, a little. And the undercurrent of sizzle and sex shadow the daughter, Jude Goodman and her best friend, Abby from start to finish. It’s their story, too, but the craftsmanship and talent of Ashton is that she has made it several people’s story, and it works flawlessly.
But the real surprise, the one I did not see coming, was the character of Juliette, an old college chum of Maggie’s. If she’s not the sexiest woman alive in Ashton’s repertoire of fictional sirens of sensuality since After Mrs. Hamilton (an earlier Ashton character and novel by that name), well…trust me, she is! There’s a love-making scene with Juliette in this book (no spoilers as to who with!) that will make you wonder why all women aren’t lesbians!
What I loved about this story, aside from lots of laughter and great sex scenes, not necessarily combined, but not necessarily separated either, was the achingly beautiful emotional reveals for each of the main characters. Ashton captures the competing emotions of mortified dread and discombobulated desire better than any writer out there.
She builds a character out of all the little bits and pieces of personality, motivation and physical attributes and gives them important issues to deal with. What might begin as a pratfall moment ends up revealing the utter vulnerability of the human condition in the throes of love’s bravery and the chaos of fear and loathing on a grand scale.
This is a gorgeous love story. Get it, submerge yourself in it and understand once again how Clare Ashton gets you to fall in love with people who don’t exist—except they do, somewhere, everywhere, always. The Goodmans is my new favorite Ashton book.
I can’t believe it’s over. I’m definitely reading this book again verrrry soon! Ashton is quite possibly the best writer in this genre and she breaks out of the formuliac “lesbian romance” box. I never roll my eyes at her plot, dialogue or character development; which is something I’ve been doing with most of the books in this genre recently.
This novel was thoughtful, funny, provoking and hot. Those scenes with our main characters were sweet and sexy at the same time with some angst thrown in. The dialogue overall was smart and engaging. I love that Ashton doesn’t dumb down her writing. And I simply LOVE that she writes about mature characters. I’m in my 30s but happen to enjoy reading about women in there 50s and 60s as well. A lot of us do. I’m just so impressed by this author and her growth. I don’t read reviews for her books anymore before I buy them, I just tap “purchase”. She hasn’t let me down yet. The only downside to Ashton’s books is having to wait for the next one when you’re done!
Excellent book. When’s the next one coming out?
I’m an avid reader and I tend to be quite loyal, but if I’m going to spend an entire day with your latest novel, the expectation is high. The 12 hours I’m going to put aside to dedicate to your art is a precious commodity. It simply has to be worth it. I can’t just let Clare off the hook because she gave me Fran and Poppy.The truth is….she gave me Maggie this time.There are many things that Clare Ashton does so well, but one thing she does exceptionally well is to keep me invested in every single character she builds. Some authors find it difficult to create one believable and beloved character, but Clare manages to create several in one story line. I absolutely loved Maggie and her brutal honesty. I love that she’s passionate and almost reckless, while being so completely delicate at the same time. She loves fiercely simply because she doesn’t know any other way.Clare also tends to remind us that families are all different. Not only are the dynamics different in every family – they can also be structured differently. A father can be something that was born out of a donor. A mother can be a woman so consumed by her own secret pain, that she becomes unreachable. A son can be enlightened and unconventional and ultimately surprise you by settling down in the most unexpected of ways. A friend can be reliable and a constant safe place, or she can light up parts of your soul that you never knew existed.I’m terrible with names and although I read at least 3 books per month, I hardly remember the names of characters. Clare doesn’t write about strangers I’ll never know. She manages to create characters that are so real to me that not only do I remember their names, I can also point them out in a crowd. I often find myself looking for Fran or Clo when I’m people-watching! How does she do that? I think the only way to do that is to pour real emotion into characters. Perhaps every character has a piece of Clare in them and that makes it so believable.The Goodmans are no different. I will look for Maggie, Jude, Abby and Juliette wherever I go.