Harriet Westmoreland is anxious. In the middle of a recession, her husband, Nick, casts aside a great job to invest in a new business. Making things more tense, one of his business associates is Amanda, a former classmate and enemy, who just might be trying to seduce Nick. All signs point to an impending disaster … And that’s before Harriet’s best friend, Grace, falls in love with Amanda’s son.Toss in recalcitrant teens, an unruly classroom, and a secret or two and— well, it’s just another day for Harriet.
The thing about Julie Houston’s novels is that they have a way of sneaking up on the reader. As her work unfolds, it can seem so obvious how everything will eventually unravel. Harriet believes Amanda is attempting to seduce her husband— surely that’ll be the focus. And yet, Houston whisks the reader off at breakneck speed, weaving in out of scenes like an uncomfortable dinner party, a burning shed, and a nutty class reunion. All plots are eventually tidied up, but it’s one hell of a fun ride through the end.
While these scenes are hilarious and original in their own right, they’re pushed over the edge by the character of Harriet. She’s such a realistic main character with genuine worries that it’s impossible not to root for her. Money problems. Kid problems. Marriage. Work. Friends. Family. She’s bogged down with a host of issues, as all mothers are, she tackles each of them head-on. Sure, she has moments where the world is too much, but it’s brilliant reading as she gains confidence and takes control of each increasingly stressful situation she’s faced with.
Of course, she doesn’t have to go it alone. Houston has peppered this book with a charming cast of secondary characters. Grace is the perfect best friend— argumentative when necessary, but always caring. These two conspire against Amanda, their former enemy and apt foil. Yet some of the most touching scenes stem from Harriet interacting with her own family. Her mother struggles with memory issues and secrets of her own, and this subplot is explored in a beautifully surprising way. There are plenty of other great characters, and a lesser author would have balked at the task of navigating so many people and their throughlines, but Houston brings everything together in a more than satisfying narrative.
Goodness, Grace and Me is deliciously frenetic in the best way possible. Julie Houston combines wacky situations, real characters, and a ton of heart into a perfect novel.
Title: Goodness, Grace and Me
Author: Julie Houston
Publisher: Aria Fiction
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Classification: Women’s Fiction
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.