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Good Family: A Novel Paperback – June 27, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060737956
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060737955
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,130,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gamble's evocative second novel chronicles a prodigal daughter's fraught homecoming and re-immersion in a family history both harsh and cradling. After an 11-year absence, 40-something filmmaker Maddie Addison leaves New York and returns to her patrician family's summer place on the shores of Lake Michigan to join an odd mix of family and friends at the bedside of her dying mother. There, as she battles with the ghosts of past mistakes, she discovers family secrets and confronts her personal tragedies. She faces her sister, Dana; an old boyfriend; and a cast of eccentric cousins as they all come together for the first time in more than a decade. As her former boozehound mother's health deteriorates, Maddie recollects the decades past that account for the woman she has become, recounting her confused love for various cousins, her failed marriage, the death of her infant and her own struggles with alcohol. Hidden letters, secret loves and desperate acts all come to light as Maddie strives for peace with her relatives and within herself. Though she occasionally strains for lyricism, Gamble (The Water Dancers) paints a poignant tale that is at once tragic and hopeful.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In the waning days of her mother's life, Maddie Addison reluctantly returns to the family vacation home on Michigan's Sand Isle, an idyllic retreat where generations of prominent industrialists have traditionally summered in grand style, replete with servants, sailboats, and secrets. Though this was once a welcome haven, Maddie has been in self-imposed exile for more than a decade, ever since the tragic summer when her infant daughter, Sadie, died, an event that plunged Maddie into the depths of alcoholic despair. Now faced with the family she alienated and abandoned--a raucous and slightly dissipated group of siblings, cousins, and assorted offspring--Maddie is forced to confront the rueful memories that haunt her, the vexing choices she has made, and the poignant consequences of living a life apart. Rich in elegant reflections and piquant observations, Gamble's sublime account of a family in disarray and a woman displaced is sheer perfection; she masterfully gives shape and nuance to the intricacies of those relationships that are meant to provide comfort, but that very often mask underlying sorrow. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Like author Terry Gamble, I spent my childhood summers in the same town as the author in Northern Michigan: the millionaires' summer resort of Harbor Springs, with its lavish "summer cottages" (sprawling mansions) and yacht club, inspiration behind her first novel "The Water Dancers" and her sophomore effort "Good Family." The natural beauty of this area is lovingly brought to life as the setting for a family reunion upon the death of its matriarch. Like the thinly veiled settings of Harbor Point, Harbor Springs, and Petoskey in "Water Dancers," "Good Family" seems a juxtaposition of the turn-of-the-century cottages on Mackinac Island, the elegant mansions of Harbor Point, and the turn-of-the-century Methodist summer community of Bay View in Petoskey.

The Addison family, made famous by its early pharmaceuticals, owns the Aerie, a sprawling, run-down cottage on Sand Isle, where cars are forbidden and transportation is by horse, carriage, and bicycle. The family's many eccentric relatives are drawn back together at the imminent death of its matriarch.

The novel's narrator is Maddie, a struggling filmmaker in New York who is recovering from years of alcoholism and traumatic earlier events. The last place she wants to be is the Aerie, haunted by ghosts both real and imagined. Memories of earlier summers, of her mother's easy elegance and later neglect, of forbidden crushes, of life-altering tragedies all come flooding back, and Maddie must assess where she has come from and where she is going. Maddie, her sister (the faithful, staid Dana) and cousins (the mystic Adele, rebellious adopted Jessica, alcoholic thespian Sedgie, artistic Derek) come together for the first time in a decade to figure out the etiquette of dying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Lewis on August 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This was my most favorite novel that I read all year. I still miss the characters, especially Maddie and Ian, and marvel at this author's ability to capture such a wonderful sense of place. I wish they'd make a movie of it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Phylora on August 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Thank you, Terry Gamble, for this wonderful book. The first sentence blows you away and then it keeps getting better. This is a great summer read, or if you want to feel summer, because she totally captures that rather aimless, warm, sandy, good-eating, kind of sun-burned feeling of gathering with your family by the lake. But it's so much more. The characters--the mother dying in an upstairs room while below her life teems, Maddie's rather eccentric cousins and their families, Ian, the gay Lutheran addict from Minnesota! Loved Ian! The house itself is a character with its ancestor ghosts. I loved Maddie and her journey and Gamble writes so evocatively, that it's hard to put the book down. Her descriptions of Maddie`s new baby, and the love she feels for her, are some of the best I've ever read. A beautiful, beautiful book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yiayia Janet on March 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I gave Good Family two stars because it is well written enough that there is no problem finishing it. It does not make you laugh or cry nor will I remember the characters a month from now. The summer cottage is a very large house on an island. Watching Michigan sunsets and playing in the water is very lovely, but does not seem to make happy people. All of the characters are in some way flawed. It appears that having inherited sufficient money to not have to work for a living may result in identity issues. Yes, they have had problems and losses. If you live long enough who hasn't? The family is concerned that one cousin may not come for the death watch, because there is no cook on the premises. In the distant past the family arrived with an entourage: of cook, nurse, maids etc.. Times have changed and they have to prepare their own meals. This book brings to mind news stories of today's children of famous old families who contribute little to society and come to bad ends. If these folks had to show up at work 350 days a year they might be better people. As power does so does money corrupt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terri DuLong on August 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed how the story was told present-day, with flashbacks to give the reader more in-depth info.

Very good character study of the main character with a readable plot.
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