Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

Clare Purdy is a 43 year old divorced, childless and lonely person. Since the death of her parents she has questioned many things in her life. While leaving her house one afternoon, Clare is not paying attention and is involved in a collision. Clare learns the family were living in their car driving to Fort McMurray. What she doesn't realize is her life is about to change in many drastic ways. When Clare arrives at the hospital she learns the family is all well except the mother has a fever and bruising that needs to be investigated. We learn very soon that the mother Lorraine has cancer and will need to stay in the hospital for extensive treatment. Clare opens up her home to the children, their father Clayton and his mother Mrs. Pell. Clare soon becomes their pseudo-mother, when Clayton runs off with her mother's car, money from her wallet, her calling card and the Silver teapot. Mrs. Pell is too caught up in her own needs to even think of the children and help out. She does administer Benadryl to baby Pearce to keep him sleepy and not interfere with her. Clare struggles to take care of Darlene, Trevor and baby Pearce. Clare feels forced to quit her mundane job and focus on the children. Financially and emotionally she is burden with their care. Lorraine's brother Darwin comes to town to assist with Lorraine, and begins living with Clare as well. Some of Clare's church members admire her actions, and others scorn her. Some believe she isn't doing this for the children't good, she is doing this for her own selfish needs. We clearly see that Clare has a sense of purpose and need in her new role. 

Endicott writes the story from multiple perspectives. We have Clare who is emotionally drained and worried about the children constantly. Darlene, the oldest daughter loves Clare but is very careful to keep her distance and separate from her mother. She is very careful not to get too emotionally attached to Clare but know she must make sure she is dependable if her mother does die. Trevor is young but he missed his real mother and father. He loves Clare but is too afraid to admit it, afraid to loose his mother. Baby Pearce loves Clare and has no real trouble transitioning from Lorraine to Clare. Lorraine is powerless and has no choice but to accept the help from Clare. She does feel grateful but at the same time she is watching her children's attachment to Clare grow. She can't help but be a little bitter. She feels Clare believes she is the better parent and person. 

Each character is very well written. The plot is slow moving but I think it gives us more of an understanding of Clare's everyday world. There is a little romance in the novel when Clare becomes involved with her minister who is going through a divorce. I enjoyed the different points of view, Darlene's (Dolly) perspective was most interesting to me, as the oldest and most independent it was interesting to see her try and survive and make sense of her new living arrangement. 

I really enjoyed this novel, and I do highly recommend it. I laughed at the regular church members who were giving Clare a hard time about the children. Especially when Mr. Bunt would come out of his house yell at Clare and then proceed to drive to church. Great book filled with lots of interesting characters.


  1. This does sound like it has great characters! It sounds like Clare found herself in quite a predicament.

  2. Sorry about deleting my previous comment -- I was signed in under the wrong username. Anyway, I loved this book too, and like you, Dolly was my favourite character. Endicott has a new book coming out this year, which I can't wait to get my hands on!

  3. Did this one win the Giller Prize?

    I saw the stamp and could not make out if it was the Giller Prize.

    Will have to look into Endicott now since you loved this one. Great review Mrs Q :)

  4. Hmmm ... I can see the judgmental church members now pointing fingers and not thinking of charity as defined by the Bible. I could picture myself taking in the family, but definitely NOT quitting my job to do so! Great review!