cover image Always the Last to Know

Always the Last to Know

Kristan Higgins. Berkley, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-451-48945-6

Higgins (Good Luck with That) serves up a punchy, angst-ridden multigenerational women’s contemporary. After 50 years of marriage, Barb Frost—selectman of Stonington, a small Connecticut town—is preparing to divorce her husband, John, with whom she’s grown apart. John then suffers a catastrophic stroke, and Barb learns he’s had a mistress. Barb and John’s daughters are going through pain of their own: Sadie, a struggling artist in New York City (and John’s favorite), has a dead-end job and a philandering boyfriend; Juliet, a successful architect (and Barb’s favorite), is unnerved by stiff competition from a young upstart and former mentee at her firm, and suffers crippling panic attacks. After John’s stroke, Sadie moves back home to help care for him and comes face to face with her first love, Noah, who had followed her to New York before their relationship fell apart. Meanwhile, Juliet worries about work and whether she’s been a failure to her husband and two daughters. The plot, told in shifting perspectives from the three women, expertly intertwines each of their dilemmas and moves along briskly thanks to the charming, snappy prose. Most importantly, Higgins excels at creating multidimensional, sympathetic characters, an ability that is on full display throughout. This sparkling story is perfect summer reading fare. (June)