Book review: ‘The Good Daughter’ by Jane Porter

The Good DaughterIn a follow-up to her first Brennan Sisters novel, Jane Porter offers us the next chapter in the dynamic Brennan family’s story — focusing on Kit, a Catholic school English teacher and confidante to all. Single after ending a long, empty relationship and approaching middle age, Kit gives to everyone — her sick mother; her passionate but needy sisters; her students — without reserving any warmth for herself.

After a girls’ weekend at the family’s beach house results in a chance meeting with Jude Knight, a handsome, motorcycle-riding bad boy, Kit steps dangerously into the path of Delilah, a troubled young student in need of help. Wanting to follow her heart but afraid of where it might lead her, Kit tries to be everything for everybody — but needs to learn how to be there for herself.

Jane Porter’s The Good Daughter struck a chord with me, mostly because my life churns around a cycle of guilt. I believe this is, to some extent, just part of being a woman . . . because, you know, we really feel things. Sometimes I feel too many things. And this book? Didn’t help me turn my brain off.

Let’s start with the good, shall we? Porter has a true knack for creating big, boisterous and lovable characters who endear themselves to readers immediately. After finishing The Good Woman last fall, I really looked forward to reconnecting with the Brennans — even with inevitable tragedy on the horizon. Though complicated (which family isn’t?), their love and devotion for one another is obvious. I initially thought this story would center on Tommy and his wife, following their struggle to start a family, and was a little disappointed it was about Kit.

There.

I said it.

Because Kit is . . . I don’t know. She blends in; she plays it safe. This is the whole point of this story, I know: Kit morphing from modest school teacher to impulsive, lively woman. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t recall much about Kit from the first book — and that was pretty telling. The other sisters? The woman with a husband playing baseball in Florida, the twin volunteering in Africa? I remember them. But Kit? She just seemed so . . . school-marmish.

And this book — her story, the titular “good daughter” — didn’t do much to change that. Though Jude posed a passing interest for me, he felt too much like a caricature — and the endless descriptions of his rugged appearance and rough-around-the-edges demeanor felt obvious. I liked him, but he was kind of . . . cardboard. He never felt real.

Blended into Kit’s story is the sad, sad saga of Delilah, the daughter of a meek mother and abusive stepfather. The scenes in which her jerk-face stepdad appeared made me physically uncomfortable, and I often found myself skimming those paragraphs because they were just really sad. Overall? That’s how this book made me feel: bummed. Super bummed. And I didn’t expect that, given how sucked into a story about infidelity I was with Porter’s first installment.

And yet.

Porter obviously has skills, and her writing kept me engaged. But the story itself? I found it much harder to get any enjoyment from the Brennans’ latest struggles, and Kit wasn’t as compelling a lead as Meg. I feel bad, like I’m further contributing to Kit’s marginalization here . . . but I just didn’t like it nearly as much. After finishing the story, I felt a little relieved to put it in my rearview mirror.


3 out of 5!

ISBN: 0425253422 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for my honest review


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7 thoughts on “Book review: ‘The Good Daughter’ by Jane Porter

  1. Yeah, but you can’t help how the book and story and character makes you feel. If Kit would have gone from a forgettable wallflower to someone empowered, then maybe it would have been a different reading experience.

  2. If she was forgettable in the first book and didn’t change enough to become memorable this time then it makes sense it felt lacking. Her not being a strong lead does make sense, considering what you say about her, but there would need to be something that makes you interested in reading her story.

  3. I am reading A Good Wife now and really enjoying it. In general, I like Jane Porter’s books but hope I am not disappointed in the next Brennan installment,

  4. I loved the review because its important to hear different takes on stories…characters…lives.

    I think this book is really important to me because so much of Kit *is* me. I’ve also lived Delilah’s life…I’ve lived that ‘sad, sad’ story of abuse. Lots of my fiction has lots of real life in it, and I’ve been accused of writing ‘pathetic’ characters, but I do write characters that reflect what’s real in my world, even if its embarrassing, shameful, or painful. I always “wished” to be the cool, smart, clever girl who had an answer for everything. I wanted to be athletic and popular and adroit with a slinging comeback when ridiculed for being the nerdy introverted insecure book girl, and I never did.

    And yet…with all that said, I’ve become an adult that can create both fierce and funny, feisty and fragile characters. Sometimes its more of one, sometimes its more of another. Regardless, I hope the stories get bought, and read, and I truly (truly!!) appreciate you giving The Good Woman, and then Kit’s book, The Good Daughter a chance!! 🙂

    xoxoxo

  5. Funny, I hated Meg and loved Kit. I also loved that I got to find out more about Delilah’s story in this one (Delilah is from She’s Gone Country). I can’t wait for Sarah’s story and maybe even Brianna’s (at a book signing Jane said there’s a possibility she’ll write Brianna’s story).

  6. For some reason the girl on the cover reminds me of Jennifer Aniston, but that could also be because of the hair color and the fact that I’ve been watching a lot of Friends reruns. I will probably pass on this book, but thanks for the time saver!

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