IF YOU ONLY KNEW - Kristan Higgins
Present Day New York
Perhaps attending her former husband's new wife's baby shower was not the best idea, but Jenny Tate somehow still feels connected to her ex-husband. She would be the first to admit that the connection is not super healthy. And attending the shower reinforces that fact, especially when Jenny ends up delivering the baby! Really? Jenny knows that her decision to leave Manhattan and move her business to her hometown of Cambry-on-Hudson (just a short hour away) is the right one. Jenny is moving closer to her loving sister Rachel, the unflappable and perfect mother of triplet daughters, to continue her already successful career as a wedding dress designer. Jenny still has the white-picket fence dream and fantasizes (sometimes a little too much) of meeting that dream man any day, anywhere—so why not back home, while she rents a darling place and sets up her new storefront, BLISS? The problem is that Jenny can't seem to find anyone who can compare to her ex, who is still somehow the best man she has ever known. What does Jenny really want? The seemingly perfect and ideal man, or a flawed, complicated and unpredictable man like Leo, her neighbor and building supervisor?
Meanwhile, Rachel, the slightly older but no less beautiful sister is living the life she always dreamed of: a happy marriage to a successful and devoted husband and father, a wonderful home and, best of all, a fulfilling life as mother to three beautiful little miracles. Just as Jenny moves back, Rachel is shocked to discover that maybe her life is not quite as idyllic as she actually believed, and now Rachel has to contend with her husband's shocking infidelity. Rachel had always been so clear in her mind as to what she would do if the unthinkable happened—just leave. Now that the unthinkable has reared its ugly head, Rachel is facing a dilemma that may ultimately shake the very foundation of what she has always believed in. Should she go and move on, or should she stay and try to pick up the pieces of a relationship which has lost its luster, for the sake of herself and her children?
Kristan Higgins's foray into women's fiction is perfect. She approaches the often used topics in a refreshing, witty manner, which left me laughing during one page and tearing up on the next. Her characters are so easy to relate to—they are warm, engaging and…human, if perhaps a little more clever than most of us. Jenny and Leo's developing friendship is fun and fresh, because they are both likeable and real. Higgins really does a masterful job of keeping the reader absolutely captivated. The topics may seem familiar, but the approach and the character development is fresh and unpredictable enough to keep one reading and reading and reading, as in all night long. Rachel is also a delight—she is so obviously a fantastic mother, but she is much more than that. With a few deft strokes of the writer's metaphorical pen, we realize that Rachel is really a shy woman, whose ambitions in life are partly shaped by her (somewhat mistaken) view of her own parents' marriage. Thus her shock at discovering that her husband could actually be unfaithful is mind boggling and overwhelming for a variety of reasons that are difficult to articulate but which all women can relate to.
And that's what IF YOU ONLY KNEW really is, after all. This is the ultimate in women's fiction, told in a light hearted way, but with a lot of layers and angst. It's not just about romance and the happy ending; it's about the process that we women go through in everyday life when we are forced to uncover and discover what we really want and need to be happy. Read and enjoy IF YOU ONLY KNEW—this one will stay on your mind and in your heart for quite a while.