cover image Things I Wish I Told My Mother

Things I Wish I Told My Mother

Susan Patterson and Susan DiLallo with James Patterson. Little, Brown, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-40620-8

The Pattersons (coauthors of the Little Geniuses children’s series) join with humor columnist DiLallo for an appealing story of a divorced woman and her widowed mother’s trip to Europe. Laurie Margolis is about to land a big advertising account when she learns her famous ob-gyn mother, Elizabeth Ormson, has had a heart attack at 68. As Elizabeth recovers, Laurie suggests a reviving trip to Paris and to her mother’s Norwegian homeland. The usual mother-daughter frictions occur: Laurie thinks she’s not good enough in her mother’s eyes and is overly sensitive to judgment, while Elizabeth claims her criticism is in Laurie’s best interests. As well, Elizabeth is nonplussed to discover Laurie has set up a reunion in Norway with Elizabeth’s estranged sister, Jeannie Ormson, whom she hasn’t seen in nearly 50 years. More misadventures ensue during the visit to Paris—Laurie’s is amorous while Elizabeth’s is aortic—and their trials help patch up their fractious relationship. A startling and unnecessary late plot twist throws everything into an entirely different light, but fortunately the authors don’t lose grasp of their well-built characters. Despite the bumpy ride, this feel-good story makes a convincing case for the importance of familial love. (Apr.)