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Best Staged Plans Hardcover – June 7, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] crowd-pleaser for empty nesters."―Publishers Weekly

"Fans of HGTV and of Cook's previous charming fiction (Seven Year Switch; Must Love Dogs) will adore this light, funny read."―Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Ms. Cook's writing only gets better with each new book."―New York Journal of Books

"Addicts to HGTV marathons will drool . . . well paced all the way to a genuinely delightful conclusion."―Booklist

"Cook knows the territory of secret longing and snappy dialog."―Publishers Weekly

"Claire Cook's characters aren't rich or glamorous--they're physically imperfect, emotionally insecure, and deeply familiar."―Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children

"Reading Claire Cook might be the most fun you have all summer."―Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Castaways

"Claire Cook has an original voice, sparkling style, and a window into family life that will make you laugh and cry."―Adriana Trigiani, author of Big Stone Gap

"Charming, engagingly quirky, and full of fun, Claire Cook just gets it."―Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries

"Claire Cook has knocked it out of the park with BEST STAGED PLANS! Everything she has written previously has been entertaining, fun, and funny, but this novel made me cry as well, then laugh again. Every page of this story of an almost-empty nester "Home Stager" trying to sell her own home is filled with humor, warmth, insight and humanity. Plus great tips and tricks! ... And a homeless woman named Naomi will steal your heart. I loved it!"―Joan Lang, Front Street Book Shop, Scituate MA

"Claire Cook is back with another gift for beach readers and book clubs everywhere--BEST STAGED PLANS....you'll find fun, heart and hilarity from cover to cover. This is yet another winner for Cook, most certainly."
Jackie Blem, Tattered Cover, Denver, CO

"BEST STAGED PLANS is jam-packed with trademark Claire Cook wit and wry observations on those everyday situations that would be really comical if you could just slow down and view them from afar - or if they were happening to, well, someone else! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll tell all your girlfriends that BEST STAGED PLANS is THE beach read of the summer. I know we are!"―Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

"Another wise and witty novel from Claire Cook. There are some real nuggets of knowledge here on home staging, clearing your life of clutter and 'recipes' for creations made from prepared foods from Trader Joe's. I know this will make for some lively book club discussions for ladies of a particular 'stage' of life!"―Karen Vail, Titcomb's Bookshop, Sandwich, MA

"In true 'Claire Cook form' BEST STAGED PLANS is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish...fun, light-hearted but moving at the same time. An uplifting and fun read."―Lisa Kennally, R. J. Julia, Madison, CT

"At the beginning of bestselling author Claire Cook's newest novel, professional homestager Sandy Sullivan has reached a mid-life crossroads, realizing that while she spends her time making other people's homes look picture-perfect, her own life could use some rearranging. Desperate for a change but with her husband dragging his feet, she takes on a job out of town staging a new hotel acquired by her best friend's boyfriend. But even the best staged plans are never perfect, leaving Sandy living with her son-in-law (minus her daughter) and wondering if her best friend's man is straying. Claire Cook has done it again with another fantastic, breezy summer read!"―Whitney Spotts, Schuler Books and Music, MI

"I'm really looking forward to recommending "Best Staged Plans" as well as your other titles, especially to our summer tourist crowd. Though I'm not a "reader in readers" quite yet, the novel spoke to me in ways I didn't expect when I read the first chapter. You provided a richness and a message within a story, subtle and powerful, without beating people over the head with a moral. Nice job!"―Kasey Cox, From My Shelf Books, Wellsboro, PA
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Claire Cook is the best-selling author of the novels The Wildwater Walking Club, Summer Blowout, Life's a Beach, Must Love Dogs, Ready to Fall, and Multiple Choice. Formerly a teacher of physical fitness and creative writing, she has also had stints as a copywriter, radio continuity director, garden designer, dance and aerobics choreographer. She lives in Scituate, Massachusetts, often called the Irish Riviera, with her family.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Voice; First Edition edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401341179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401341176
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Clara F. Strom on June 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Just when you think you are reading another chic lit novel Claire Cook throws in a few life lessons and then she makes you laugh out loud. Female "boomers" might recognize Sandy Sullivan's life. She has set the stage perfectly. Sandy is a successful business woman she has been there, done that, but is left wondering, now what? She realizes she is "in one of the free-pass stages of life. Parents and pets dead and buried, the children are flying mostly on their own...", but isn't counting her blessings until she meets a homeless woman who stops her in her tracks. This is a great summer beach read, but be prepared because Claire Cook will challenge you to take a good hard look at your life, with or without the reading glasses.
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Format: Hardcover
Over a decade ago, authors like Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones' Diary), Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City), and Jennifer Weiner (In Her Shoes), forged a new sub-genre known - sometimes derogatorily - as "chick lit", which offers well-written, sympathetic, fun characters to female readers. These authors paved the way for more books featuring stories predominantly about the lives of contemporary women, written for women who like to read about people who sound like themselves and their friends. Nevertheless, more often than not, most of these books focus on women in their twenties and thirties, struggling with dating, work, a social life (usually in the city), and early marriage. The Baby Boomer women and their younger siblings, while they may find these books amusing, still have slim pickings when looking for fun "chick lit" about chicks dealing with retirement, aging parents, adult children moving home, empty nesting, and their own aging.

Enter author Claire Cook. At first, I thought "Best Staged Plans" looked like just another cute chick lit book. I was pleased to find not only a new kind of "chick lit" - one I can recommend to my mom and her friends, but one I enjoyed as well. Sandy Sullivan is ready to move to the next stage of life with her husband: they'd dreamed of selling the big New England house that they restored while raising their children, and moving to a fun beach condo. Though she continues doing some business as a home-stager for other people selling their houses, on her own homefront, Sandy's dream of downsizing is thwarted by the heel-dragging of her adult son who moves back home to inhabit their basement, and her retired husband who is too busy playing tennis and going jogging to help with home repairs.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Well, this book had me from the first chapter. I found it so easy to relate to the main character; I could see myself in her shoes from the beginning, wondering what the next stages of my life were going to be and where they would take me! I really enjoyed the flow of this book, too, and would find myself surprised that I had blasted through the pages so quickly! What was most interesting is the story of Sandy motivated me to start making plans of my own and actually follow through with them! I highly recommend you take Best Staged Plans to the beach with you this summer (or wherever it is you go!)!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If life is a stage, and it's all about presentation, Sandra Sullivan is an expert. Especially in a tough real estate market, when "staging a home" for sale is extremely important.

Too bad that reinventing one's own life is not nearly as easy.

Just when Sandra thinks that she and her husband can finally sell their huge Victorian home and move somewhere simpler for the next chapter of their lives, she meets one obstacle after another. First, her husband and grown son would rather play and procrastinate than do the work. And Sandra is at a point in her life when the little things, like this foot-dragging behavior and finding the right reading glasses--especially since she's just accidentally wrapped her favorite pair and sent them off in the mail to her daughter--can make or break the journey.

So what is a woman to do? Well, Sandra accepts that staging job in Atlanta...the one offered by her best friend's boyfriend. And when she packs and leaves home, her message to the guys: don't call me until the house is ready.

What Sandra meets at her destination will change her life in a whole new direction.

Full of colorful, lively characters and lots of laugh-out-loud moments, we also find those serious issues, like how one can suddenly find gratitude where one least expects to discover it. And how changing one's perspective on things can come in the blink of an eye. And how, sometimes, life dishes out something really unexpected that forces you to change how you view everything. Best Staged Plans is a blissful, highly recommended read which I've awarded five stars.
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Format: Hardcover
I am obviously out of step with other readers judging from the positive reviews for this book. I've read several books by this author that I've really enjoyed. This was one of the worst books I've read. The main character is obnoxious and not at all endearing. She treats her son-in-law (who is letting her stay with him) like dirt. She doesn't treat her best friend much better. (and for a professional stager, her taste seems atrocious, but I'm willing to let that go for differences in style). The book reads like the transcript of a stand-up comic who is failing miserably. The author was clearly trying to be funny but she wasn't, at all. The only good thing about the book is that it was short. It strikes me as a lame attempt to meet a deadline.
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