I used to think that Jane Green understood me, personally. It’s the one foot in England and one foot in the US thing, that gives her a comforting transatlantic reliability in my mind. I know that the stories will be good and that she writes about what I know, namely the cultural and emotional differences between the Brits and Americans. That said, she’s not a writer that I religiously follow, but in the same way that you sometimes might buy yourself a hot chocolate instead of a coffee, so too do I buy a Jane Green instead of something else.
On a recent trip to New York, I needed a book that would just be fun to read and would require no effort whatsoever on my part. I was headed away without the kids or The Husband to the graduation of the daughter of a dear friend. I had rented an AirBnB solo and really just wanted a book that would reflect the carefree nature of the break itself and so I found myself reading Jane Green’s TheSunshine Sisters. Now I hadn’t read any of Green’s books in a few years, but out of habit I read her acknowledgements and found that she viewed this book as a return to form, that she was back to her old self. I’m not able to comment on that, having not read her full body of work, but I can tell you that this is a sweet easy read. In fact reading this book was so much fun that it became an integral part of my vacation, as I enjoyed languishing in bed in the morning, just reading a couple more chapters and maybe, one more after that.
Ronni Sunshine isn’t doing well. A former movie star, she finds her health declining and so calls her children to her bedside. Ronni wasn’t a great mother and so over the last few years her daughters have become relatively estranged, not just from her, but also from each other. One runs a farm, another lives in England and stands on the cusp of marrying a man she really shouldn’t and the last is a celebrity chef. These characters, Nell, Meredith and Lizzy respectively, all have their own stories to tell as they gather back in the family home and look towards the future.
For me, this is why Jane Green’s books work. Firstly there’s always an incredibly desirable yet homely location. This time it’s Westport Connecticut, where I notice the author herself lives. Secondly, there’s a wonderful blend of ‘something for everyone’ in terms of characters. Do you want someone feisty? Check. A sensitive soul? Check. The one who made all the bad choices but deserves a do-over? Check. It’s all in here and built around the ultimate in guilt based relationships, that of mother daughter. Finally, don’t we all want a happy ending? Well most likely Jane Green is going to leave you with that warm, fuzzy feeling that you crave. Just like your hot chocolate, I tell you.
Give me a few months, a year even and the details of this book will be hazy, just like all her others, but reading Jane Green is as much about feel as anything else and she always leaves you feeling happy and rewarded. She may have a formula, but it’s a good one.