Book review: ‘Three Good Things’ by Wendy Francis

Three Good ThingsJust kids when their mother died, sisters Ellen and Lanie McClarety have learned one powerful truth: they must rely on each other. Post-divorce, Ellen runs a bakery and fills her days with the kneading of dough. Her popular kringles bring even the most stoic to the dark (and sweet!) side, and it’s through work that she eventually meets Henry — a kind widower who stands in stark contrast to her ex-husband, the tempestuous Max. But just as their relationship begins to bloom, a secret threatens to undo their tentative romance.

For new mom Lanie, life has become a complicated juggling act of balancing her law career with her 1-year-old son. Young Benjamin gives Lanie and her husband purpose, that’s for sure, but the constant attention coupled with the complicated careers of two working parents does not an easy marriage make. When Lanie begins to have her suspicions about Rob’s extracurricular activities, she turns to her sister — and the wisdom of their long-gone mother — for help.

Wendy Francis’ Three Good Things grabs its title from advice handed down to the women decades before: no matter what’s happened that day, be sure to identify three good things. Even in the darkest of moments, some joy can be found — and that’s Francis’ message to us, too. Though Ellen and Lanie wade through murky waters, the narrative’s sweetness blends perfectly with its occasional tartness . . . and ends up creating something special. Um, kind of like a kringle. Ooh, I dig a good metaphor.

And before we go further, I’m going to offer some wisdom myself: don’t read this book on an empty stomach. I was Googling “kringle” before I knew what was good for me (and that wasn’t it). As I was only in week two of my healthy-eating-turnaround, grabbing Three Good Things when I really would have killed for a sugar-crusted Peep wasn’t my wisest move. Still, Francis’ novel is so quick and sweet that I was back on the straight and narrow in no time.

But seriously, don’t Google Kringle. I can’t be held responsible for what you see.

As far as the story goes, Three Good Things is an interesting and relatively simple tale. We have two sisters grappling with a myriad of issues and, in some ways? This was really a life-after-divorce novel. Does that mean I didn’t enjoy it? Absolutely not. I really felt for Ellen, the independent older sister, and was genuinely surprised by the story’s twists. Lanie and Rob’s story was less compelling to me, mostly because I didn’t bond with either, but I don’t need to be besties with every character in a book. Ellen’s plotline was enough to keep the momentum going, and I cared for Lanie because Ellen did.

At the end of the day, Three Good Things is more than enough to satisfy your craving for quality women’s fiction. It might have been pushed into “awesome!” territory if Francis included a freshly-baked kringle with every copy but, you know . . . logistics. I’m satisfied with the inclusion of a recipe and decided that, when I reach my first weight loss goal, I’m going to try my hand at making one.

Or, um, order kringle from an experienced bakery. Whichever.


3.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 1451666349 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Twitter
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for my honest review


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14 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Three Good Things’ by Wendy Francis

  1. Not so surprisingly, your review made me look up kringles :p They look too awesome. It’s interesting Lanie and Rob’s story wasn’t as good because it sounded the sort of thing that would be compelling enough, but I suppose one couple/person is always going to be more interesting.

    • I often find that to be true, Charlie. I bond with one character/couple over another — and find the transitions between the two plots less interesting. Even though I “liked” Ellen more than Lanie, I still enjoyed both of their stories!

  2. Hah, this is the ever-present issue with reading books with really good food in them! I’m not looking at any of your kringle links because a kringle sounds like something that it would better for me NOT to know about ;)

    • Half of me wishes I could un-know my kringle knowledge, Meg — but the other half of me just really wants to order one online and have it show up on my doorstep.

    • I’m partial to books on sisters, too — and this one was a good read, Kathy. It’s always interesting to see how the dynamics play out! Especially since, for all intents and purposes, Ellen was more like a parent than a sister to Lanie growing up.

  3. I agree with the ones above, a very persuasive review! That sometimes is the best way to do it, as I am off to check out that book. I am in need of a new read, I just finished Coming to Rosemont by Barbara Hinske and it was very compelling with rich characters and I love a read like that. I would say check out her site barbarahinske.com, that is what “persuaded” me to give it a look! Thanks again for this review, saved me a lot time looking for my next read!

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