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Amanda Eyre Ward
March 3, 2020
Prim and proper Charlotte Perkins was sad when her husband died, of course, but now that she’s lost her best friend, too, she feels unmoored. She’s 70+ years old and just so lonely. When she sees an ad for an essay contest—the grand prize is an all-expense paid European cruise—she decides to enter. After summoning a bit of liquid courage via a glass of wine (or four), she bravely writes about losing her virginity to a famous artist.
To her surprise, she wins the contest, and, with her extra cruise tickets, decides to bring her three grown children with her for some much needed family bonding time. She’ll be accompanied by her daughter, Lee, a somewhat famous actress; her son, Cord, a handsome venture capitalist and eternal bachelor; and her youngest daughter, Regan, a stay-at-home mom with a seemingly perfect marriage. The estranged family will spend ten days together on a ship, determined to bond…all while they sidestep emotional landmines and try their hardest not to reveal long-held secrets, resentments, and regrets. What could go wrong?
I love the premise of this book. It reminds me a lot of The Floating Feldmans—though that book was marginally better. While it’s always entertaining to watch a struggling family implode and then try to sort through the fallout (don’t judge me), I had trouble staying engaged with The Jetsetters. My biggest problem was that I couldn’t understand the tone of the book. Was it supposed to be funny and light? Jokey and sarcastic? But then what’s going on with that super dramatic and serious ending?
I just wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about Charlotte and her family, wasn’t sure if they were going to make it out okay in the end. And that confusion impacted how I connected with the characters. The only person who had a believable, fully-formed, and consistent personality was Cord’s significant other. Everyone else felt unknowable to me, like a puzzle that I couldn’t solve (and what’s worse, I stopped even wanting to try to).
I had hoped this would be a light and entertaining read with some heart, but unfortunately it didn’t deliver.
Thank you Net Galley and Ballantine Books for the ARC.