Always the Last to Know is my first Kristan Higgins book and it is definitely not my last. The book can be classified as contemporary women’s fiction with a huge helping of drama and romance. Focusing on the lives of the Frost family of Stoningham, Connecticut, the novel features interesting characters.
Barb and John Frost have been married for fifty years and have two daughters: the perfect, brilliant, and Barb’s favorite, Juliet who is an architect and married to a Brit and they have two daughters; and the free-spirited Sadie, who teaches art at a New York Catholic school, is a struggling artist, and is John’s favorite. The Frost family crumbles when John has a stroke and needs full-time care from his family. This stroke makes Sadie return to her hometown and confront Noah, her love; her relationship with her family, especially her father; and her maturity as an adult. Barb has to face her own challenges regarding her marriage and her relationship with her husband. The stroke leads Juliet, the ‘Perfection from Conception’ daughter, to understand why she is having panic attacks despite an ideal family. The story is narrated by different members of the Frost family, including John.
This is an enjoyable and pleasant story that delves into relationships between couples, siblings, and parents and their children. It also shows the problems that women face in male-dominated professions, as shown through Juliet’s work as an architect. Sadie’s struggle as an artist shows how flawed the art world is. Lastly, Barb’s relationship with John and her best friend, Caro, are realistic and believable. Despite being a novel that focuses on women, the characters of John, Noah, and Alexander, Sadie’s boyfriend, are not caricatures but well-portrayed. I also enjoyed the descriptions of Stoningham as seen through Sadie’s eyes.
If you want a novel that is warm, fuzzy, enjoyable, with good doses of romance, family dynamics, and realistic portrayals of professional goals and politics, then this is the book for you. I am definitely planning to read more books by Higgins.