Just 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.
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!