In Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins, Emma London has come a long way from her days of being pregnant and barely eighteen, working nights and taking college courses whenever she could. She’s got her PhD now and is a therapist in Chicago. But most importantly, Emma is mom to her beloved teenager Riley. The girl who rules her world and whom she would do anything in for. Even if it means spending the summer with Emma’s grandmother, Genevieve, letting her daughter finally get to know the family matriarch. The woman who barely tolerated Emma in her home for a decade before kicking her out when she was not much older than Riley. But looking back and seeing the wonderful life she’s carved out for her and her daughter, maybe Genevieve didn’t really do her such a disservice after all.
‘She’d taken me in when I was alone, and if she wasn’t soft and loving, she’d made me…strong. Self-sufficient. Independent.’
Genevieve London has had to make some difficult choices in her life. Moving forward after her eight-year-old son disappeared and her husband passed away shortly after, and creating her own world-famous fashion house was one of the toughest things she’s ever done. Genevieve is now in her mid-eighties and she knows she likely doesn’t have decades left to ramble about in her lovely waterfront home, considering her health isn’t what it used to be. So it’s time to try to draw her granddaughter Emma back to Sheerwater and finally get to meet her great-granddaughter Riley. And who knows? Maybe peace can finally be found between she and Emma–and perhaps Genevieve can even help her understand that she did what she did all those years ago with Emma’s best interest at heart.
‘Emma hadn’t forgiven me. I could hardly blame her. But all these years later, she’d brought her daughter here and let Riley get to know me and even love me a little.
Sometimes, that gift was almost too generous to bear.’
Life and Other Inconveniences is an emotional powerhouse that takes readers on an incredible ride with its blend of profoundly sad moments, scenes filled with joyful wonder, and most of all, love of family and acceptance of who we truly are deep inside.
‘I hugged her then, resting my head on her bony shoulder.
Because everyone needs a hug. Even–especially–a mean old lady who didn’t know how to be with people.’
I am going to be completely honest here: I was a wreck reading this book. Not necessarily in a bad way, though. I always expect to go on a roller coaster ride when it comes to Kristan Higgins’ work, with all of the feelings she manages to yank out of me. But…wow. I cried ugly tears–especially at the end *sob*–I muttered and yelled (sometimes out loud) about a character’s choices, and I cheered for the triumphs this cast finally achieved. Boy did they have to work for their happy (for now) endings!
I will readily tell you that I actually had to put the book aside here and there to let what had just happened in a scene, or what shocking information was revealed, sink in for a few minutes. It is not necessarily an easy story to read. There were a lot of darker subjects and tragedies that befell just about every character we met. For that reason, I think some readers will have a tough time getting through it. But to me, it was oh so worth it–and everything that happened, good and bad, made things more realistic, in my humble opinion.
This was an ensemble cast with multiple POVs, which worked very well. So I’m not going to get into the attributes of each person and how intricately their stories all were woven together. Overall, Higgins created characters I loved and some I loved to hate (I’m looking at you Genevieve and Clark!). I adored that there were several strong women who still had an air of vulnerability to them but who kicked serious butt and did what they thought was right. The relationship between Emma and her daughter Riley was the one that I just couldn’t get enough of, as they were ridiculously cute together and so very sweet. Their bond was rock solid. And to me, that was the basis for how they got through all the changes and soul-searching that had to be done in this story, while it also inspired others around Riley and Emma.
As is typically the case with a Kristan Higgins book, she didn’t pull any punches when it came to the subject matter or to the deep emotions she used in this look at how messy, but also wonderful, life can be. Drama, both personal and familial, as well as a faint touch of humor, lit the way and made this a memorable, heartfelt novel.
Publication: August 6th 2019 | Berkley |
From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.
Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.
When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.
So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?