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.


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