Thursday, June 18, 2009

Best Intentions

Lisa Barkley and her husband, Sam, are struggling to maintain their toehold on the upper income lifestyle they enjoy on New York’s East Side with their two young daughters. If their impending fortieth birthdays were not bad enough, both are facing a crisis of sorts in the workplace. Lisa’s PR firm has just been taken over by an aggressive Chicago firm and she senses that she is being squeezed out of the picture. Sam, a journalist, known for his exposés, is desperately searching for his next big story because he has an editor interested only in what Sam has done for him lately. Their money worries have become so distracting that Lisa is even starting to doubt that her husband loves her as much as he once did.

Things begin to get complicated after Sam reluctantly agrees to a reunion dinner with Lisa, Lisa’s best friend, Deidre, and Deidre’s old college boyfriend, Jack. Jack, in from Boston for a job interview, has not seen the three New Yorkers in several years and he seems determined to charm his old friends, especially Deidre. Jack’s re-entry into their lives, has come at a time when all of them are emotionally vulnerable, Sam and Lisa because of their financial worries, and Deidre because she is terrified that she will never marry and have a child if she reaches her fortieth birthday as a single woman.

Jack has come along just when stirring the pot can be a dangerous thing for his friends – and stir the pot, he does. Deidre finds herself trying to choose between Jack, and the future he seems so ready to offer her, and her current lover, Ben, a man who can barely bring himself to discuss his feelings about their relationship. Lisa is caught in the middle after Jack asks her help in finding out, on the sly, if Deidre still has a romantic interest in him, and Sam is reminded of just how much he has always disliked Jack.

Try as she might, Lisa cannot completely shake the nagging doubts that she has about her marriage and whether Sam might be involved in an affair. All the signs are there, and she is becoming more and more consumed by the thought that her world is falling apart. She is not the least bit prepared, however, for the great shock that will soon have her second-guessing everything she thinks she knows about her husband and her best friends.

I have not experienced much in the way of chick lit (I’m not even sure whether or not the term “chick lit” is considered a derogatory one) but I found Best Intentions to have a higher level of literary quality than the few others of that genre I have read in the past. Emily Listfield describes the lifestyle of upper-income New Yorkers, both the pros and the cons, so well that the city almost becomes another character in her story.

This is chick lit with a twist, a more literary approach to the usual story about relationships and feelings, all of it cloaked within a mystery that almost destroys its main characters when Lisa learns the hard way that even the best of intentions have a way of backfiring.

Rated at: 3.5


  1. Some people look at "chick lit" as fluff but there are some really good books out there that fall under this genre. I loved this book!! I think the author writes a really sharp, fast story and like you found NYC coming to life before me.

  2. I'm so glad you (both) liked my novel!

  3. I have not read this one, but at some point plan to. Thanks for the great review.

  4. She's a talented writer, Staci, no doubt about it.

  5. Emily, thanks for stopping by. I most enjoyed the feel your book gives for what it is like to live in NYC every day. I lived in London for a few years and the way you described NYC brought back memories of London for me.

  6. Let us know what you think of the book when you're done, Diane.

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