The Goodmans by Clare Ashton is my favorite book. I want to be a member of this loving, crazy family. I want to hang out with Celia, the grandmother and get my medicinal relief. I want to rage against the annoying neighbor and civil injustices with Maggie. I want to make fun of everyone with Eli. I want to encourage Jude to see the wonder that is her mother and I want to hug the mess out of Abby and Richard.
Jude is a doctor who spends the weekends in her hometown with her family and best friend Abby. She has no clue that Abby is head over heels in love with her. It takes her overhearing her brother and seeing the look of despair on Abby’s face when Bill, Jude’s boarish boyfriend, proposes to open her eyes to the truth. Abby is the quintessential girl next door. She’s a doctor as well and the whole town loves her because she is kind and attentive. After Abby’s mother died tragically while her and Jude were in college, the Goodmans made her a part of the family.
Abby feels a particular closeness with Maggie, who became a surrogate mother for her. Jude loves her mother but is more than often annoyed and exasperated with her behavior. I think one of the many reasons I adore Maggie so much is because she reminds me of my own mother. My mom was obnoxious and smothering but she had the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. Maggie has all of these same qualities and more. She is the heart and soul of this book and I adore her completely.
Maggie and her husband Richard are separated but still live in the same house. They have decided to tell the family they are divorcing until Eli shows up with his new fiance. Everything after turns Maggie’s world upside down and the ride is surprising, exhilarating and beautiful. I will reread this book many times and have a tear in my eye every time for years to come. Clare Ashton has created a literary masterpiece.