The Goodmans by Clare Ashton is a book with a lot going on. You have romance, a mother-daughter relationship, the ending of a marriage, politics and small town issues. For the sake of my sanity, I am not going to go into each one other than to say they wove together well and make for an interesting read. And the politics escaped me to some degree.
Now, let’s get to the fun bits and talk about the lesbians. Meet Abby Hart (an appropriate name since she is the heart of the first half of the book). She is a doctor in the small town of Ludbury and has been friends with Jude Goodman since they studied together at university. They are extremely close friends and for Abby the feelings run even deeper than that—she is in love with Jude.
Jude, on the other hand, is in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend whose name I can’t remember and frankly I didn’t like him anyway, so I don’t want to look it up. I hope he trips over his feet on the way out of the door. (It’s Bill, I didn’t like him either, and that’s a much kinder fate than I’d wished on him — Tara)
What happens when Jude discovers that Abby is in love with her? Is it possible for her to fall in love with her best friend even though she has never had any inclination towards women?
If you will step this way, I would like to introduce you to Maggie Goodman. She is like a whirlwind of passion as she sweeps through her life. It’s an exciting time for the Goodmans because Eli, Jude’s younger brother, is bringing his girlfriend to visit and the family will be back together again. But Maggie is dreading telling her kids that she and her husband are in the process of getting a divorce. It’s not that she wants to keep him close, he has really been more like a friend in her life.
That, however, becomes the least of Maggie’s problems when her past blows into town and turns everything upside down.
And because Ashton is an evil genius you never know what’s around the next corner.
Sheena: I love the diversity of characters and that they each have very clear motivations, making it easy to keep track even on such a large cast.
Tara: Sheena read this before me, so when I read it, I was texting her the whole way through. When I said Abby was my favourite, she said something about Maggie stealing the show. While I thought Maggie was interesting and I identified with parts of her (especially when she would muse on her experiences as a parent), I didn’t really understand where Sheena was coming from. That is, until the last half when OHMYGOD, I can’t even. I felt like my guts were being ripped out. Now, not only do I agree with her, but I think Maggie might be my favourite character that Ashton has written.
The Writing Style
Sheena: Ashton writes beautifully. Her descriptions of the town brought it vividly to life, her intimate moments took my breath away and there were several scenes which had me pausing to appreciate the perfection of her writing.
Tara: I’m usually drawn in more by story and characters than I am by writing style, but in this case I was drawn in by all of it. I actually put the book down in tears at one point because of how perfectly Ashton captured something, and I am known for being cold as ice! Okay, fine. No, I’m not, but books don’t usually make me cry. Seriously though, she’s writing some of the finest books available today.
Sheena: There is an intimate scene in a hotel towards the end of the book. It is just too gorgeous. So go read it and come tell me what you thought.
Tara: Literally everything about this book is a pro for me. I love the character work, the intricate plotting, how every detail is revealed at the exact right moment, the angst that I felt deep in my bones, and the most satisfying of happily ever afters. This book is perfection.
Sheena: Know what else I loved? I loved that there was an awesome guy in this book. Jude’s dad is the shiz!
Tara: My biggest con is that I can’t talk about any of the things that I most want to because of spoilers. Literally, all of the stuff that impacted me the most is a spoiler. It makes it VERY hard to adequately fangirl.
Sheena: One of the things I most love about Clare Ashton’s books is that you will never get the same story twice. So, if you have read and loved any of her other books then know that this is not the same. What you do get though is a beautiful balance of funny, charming and dramatic, twists and turns and complex plot lines that are so well written that they are easy to keep track of. I totally recommend this one and am looking forward to reading it again.
Tara: I hope everyone is ready for me to talk about The Goodmans for months (and months), because seriously, I am all in my feelings about it. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. If you love a good, angsty romance I cannot recommend it enough.
Excerpt from The Goodmans by Clare Ashton
Dr Jude Goodman was certain of many things.
Her beloved home town of Ludbury, in the rolling hills of the Welsh-Shropshire borders, she imagined eternal. It was a quintessential and timeless English town, with medieval sandstone walls encircling Georgian streets and timber-framed houses. At its apex, an ancient church tower rose above the pastel and brick terraces and glowed red in the sun’s rays. Change came slowly to this place.
That her parents would live here until their dying days was another unspoken certainty that formed the bedrock of Jude’s existence. Her mother, all passion and drama, could test the patience of a Labrador, while her father was the epitome of all things comfortable and predictable. How they’d got together eluded Jude’s comprehension, but together they’d been for so long that understanding was no longer required. They simply were.
Her most lasting and closest of friendships with university chum and now resident of Ludbury Dr Abby Hart was another immovable truth.
On this autumn evening, Jude returned from her life with boyfriend Bill and job as an inner-city locum for much needed respite in the bosom of her family and best friend, while Bill worked through the weekend. It was a habit formed over the last five years, so engrained it felt like another universal constant.
But as Jude arrived on the train from across the green Shropshire plains, little did she know that over the coming days all but one of these certainties would remain unchallenged.
For a start, how could she know that when Abby Hart spotted her that her friend’s heart soared so high?
“Jude!” Abby shouted. Her vigorous wave hid none of her excitement.
Abby’s heart lifted higher still when her friend beamed and waved back from beneath the medieval tiers of the upper street. Jude strode towards her, generous mouth in a wide smile. Wavy sun-kissed hair cascaded and bounced around her shoulders, so thick Abby wanted to bury her hands in its depths while gazing into eyes that shifted in shades between grey and green. Jude towered above the elderly afternoon shoppers and her walk exuded confidence, a demeanour that had made her popular at university and the same friendly authority engendered trust with her patients now.
Abby sighed as Jude came closer, listening to the click of the heels from long leather boots on the pavement and admiring the jersey dress that slipped around Jude’s curves in a feminine fashion but left her Amazonian physique undiminished.
You see, Abby couldn’t think of Jude highly enough. When Jude made an entrance, it was almost as if angels sang, but it was actually Waterloo Abby heard in her head, ever since Jude’s grandmother had commented on her “proper woman thighs”, which were decidedly Abbaesque.
“Mmmm,” Abby said, oblivious to making such a sound.
What a fine place between Jude’s thighs must be. Soft and warm, warm and soft, so very soft.
Abby’s parietal lobe nagged at her to concentrate on something else.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781720817062
- Publisher: Breezy Tree Press
Clare Ashton Online
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