A warm, incisive new novel about the enduring bonds of marriage and friendship from Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Nest
Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring—the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.
Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company—Good Company—afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now?
With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s signature tenderness, humor, and insight, Good Company tells a bighearted story of the lifelong relationships that both wound and heal us.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the New York Times bestselling author of The Nest, which has been translated into more than 25 languages and optioned for film by Amazon Studios with Sweeney writing the adaptation. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children.
Okay, this one is a little disappointing when you compare it with the author’s brilliant work : “the nest” !
Her talented writing style and unique story telling skills still drag you into this story but extra embellished, long back stories of the characters and their unlikable attributes give you hesitation to connect with them.
Reading stories about theater companies and Hollywood always attract my attention. But this story is more about resentments, what ifs , marriage problems, adultery, second chances. So its genre is closer to domestic drama.
Let’s a closer look to the synopsis: Flora is voiceover actress who gives life of a popular animation character for a long time. She seems so pleased with her life. She has very skillful daughter Ruby, a best loyal friend Margot and lovely husband Julian. Until she learns, her husband is not loyal to her as like she thinks, safe walk she built around her life starts to crumble into pieces. She starts to question her life decisions, her sacrifices, her resentments. What if she chose another path, could she have better fulfilled life? Did she give up all those things for nothing?
We just get closer look to the both of the friends’ marriage lives. It was still riveting and well written novel! I couldn’t care or connect with the characters but I still admired the author’s story development skills.
I’m giving three mediocre stars this time! Because I was expecting a little more after truly adoring “ the nest” ! But I think this is not the story I could get lost even though it wasn’t boring or below the average reading but I wish it could be more hooking, effective one with more resonating characters!
Special thanks to Netgalley and Ecco for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Update: Good Company was just announced as the Read with Jenna celebrity book club selection for April. Not to toot my own horn, but... toot toot! Was my crystal ball working here or what?
Did you see that 2019 movie “Marriage Story” with Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver? Did you enjoy it? If you answered yes to both of those questions, then you might like Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney’s follow up to her blockbuster debut, The Nest.
These are the types of reviews I enjoy writing the least. The ones for books that classically embody the word “fine.” For while there’s nothing inherently unpleasant or wrong with Good Company, there’s not a lot about the story or writing to make the novel memorable once finished.
Good Company also calls to mind the books of Emma Straub or J. Courtney Sullivan. Its rating average will hover in the low-to-mid 3-star range on Goodreads, but people will read it anyway given the author pedigree, beautiful cover, prominent bookstore placement, and inevitable celebrity endorsements. White upper middle class bi-coastal actor types struggle with midlife malaise and marital discord? This will be catnip to celebrity book clubs.
I listened to an advanced copy of the audiobook (9 hours), which luckily features the narrating talents of Marin Ireland. Ms. Ireland is rapidly becoming a favorite voice talent with audiophiles, and she does a great job here as usual. When I see her name attached to a title, that’s often reason enough for me to choose the audio format over print. I’m certainly glad I chose to spend my time with Good Company in hers.
My thanks to Harper Audio for providing me with an advance listeners copy for early review via NetGalley. The U.S. publication date is April 6, 2021.
Flora, happily married to Julian for 20 years, is lucky. She’s watched other marriages disintegrate but her marriage is strong and stable. Sure they’ve had challenges and ups and downs, but it only made them stronger. You never know what truly goes on behind closed doors, but Flora knew what went on behind HER door.
Until she finds Julian’s wedding ring hidden away in a file cabinet (not a spoiler, the book opens here). The ring he claimed to have lost years ago. What had truly happened all those years ago? Suddenly, everything she thought she knew about her life and marriage is in question.
From here we go back in time and explore how Flora and Julian met, their careers, the theater life, parenting their daughter, and the close friendship Flora has with Margot. Margot, unlike Flora, has wealth and privilege that complicated the dynamics of their friendship, but they remain best friends. Margot has challenges of her own, an incident which left her husband David so very different than the man she had married.
“It was stupid, she now understood, to think that privilege translated to protection. To mistake privilege for grace.”
I loved how this novel explores the ups and downs of marriage and friendship. Life is messy, and never goes as planned. Bad things happen. How do we move forward when life as you thought you knew it is turned upside down? When there’s a betrayal from those you trusted most? Do you forgive? Are some things unforgivable?
“forgiveness is a choice. It doesn’t arrive on fairy wings; it doesn’t descend from the sky for you to take or leave. Forgiveness is an action.”
If this sounds like the same old plot you’ve read many times, I assure you it isn’t. From the synopsis, if you think you know what happened with the wedding ring, you are wrong. The truth is more complicated.
It required a bit of patience in the beginning but by the 30-50% mark, the story is riveting, because I enjoy introspective novels that delve into complicated relationships. The author writes beautifully with depth and nuance. She gets people, their inner lives, and what makes them tick. It’s a book that makes one think, a book that begs to be discussed. The kind of book I love most.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words. Picture a photo of the same people, taken years apart. The same people, yet not the same. They’ve been broken, damaged, and evolved. How they navigate the in-between years was a thoughtful exploration of complicated lives. One to ponder.
I found the author’s first book, the Nest, an ok read, but loved this one. It made a terrific buddy read, as it’s one with a lot of issues and themes to discuss. It’s one both Marialyce and I enjoyed and recommend.
* I received a free digital copy from NetGalley and Edelweiss. * publication date 4/6/21 by Ecco
Hated it. This book was a super drawn out boring book with no thrill. There was plenty of room for it, but it never happened. The story line focuses on two couples who spend a lot of time together but are almost complete opposites. The only common thread is acting. Flora and Julian are involved in theater and voice acting and have a daughter named Ruby. Ruby adores Margot. One day Flora finds her husbands first wedding ring that he ‘lost’. This leads her to discover his affair. Margot plays a Doctor on TV and is married to David a real doctor. Margot has kept Julian’s secret from Flora. All the lame drama ensues. This book was a total waste of my time. Ugh great book if you trying to take a long nap 😴 💤
Good Company is the latest book written by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney. I read The Nest several years ago and enjoyed the author's character development and writing style. When I saw this was available for an early read, I wanted to get a copy, so I did... finished it this week and am glad it worked out. Overall, I prefer The Nest to this one, but it's still a well-written book I'd recommend.
Flora and Julian have been married for almost twenty years, just as long as they've been best friends with David and Margot. While David is a doctor, the rest are actors; they've lived in NYC and LA for most of their lives, minus a few years in London. Flora and Julian have a high school daughter, Ruby, and shortly before her graduation party, a surprising revelation comes out about an incident that happened fifteen years earlier. It leads to several awkward moments, job changes, and questions about love, commitment, trust, and the future of their lives. What happened?
One of the aspects I most enjoy about the author's writing is the POV changes throughout the book. Each chapter focuses on someone different, but the previous chapter builds the stage for the new character's voice. There are less than 10 characters, but it's a rising step situation where you need to read them in order to understand why the new character is important; in the beginning of the chapter, it's unclear. By the end, you have your aha moment. Transitions are seamless and flowing. All the characters are well developed. The plot, while not major, is enough to have something to hold on to with a curious hope.
Where I struggled was the ending. After the big reveal and the subsequent impacts... you feel the drama and pain between characters. You watch as they slowly repair and rebuild. But in the end, things are left open-ended and casually addressed in terms of a wrap-up. I don't mind endings like this, but there must be something to learn from it. Instead, this felt like a very detailed excursion into a specific twenty-year period of four characters' lives, and then a cliff where you kinda just stop. I didn't need to know the full details of their future, but when someone lies to you or misleads you, and you don't really get a full circle ending on it in a book, it's disquieting. I wanted a comeuppance for someone, or at the very least, a sense of how to repair the future. Then again, life can be like that, so perhaps the author was simply commenting on reality.
I'm glad I read it. I will continue to read more from the author, as the world-building is very strong, especially since both books focus on NYC for a big piece of the timeline. But if you want a closed-door type ending, this isn't the right one. Vague notions of next steps will be your final moment, and that can be in itself, an analytical way to leave a reader.
"Good Company" by Cynthia D'Aprix is a story of a marriage and a family.
Flora's had been married for more than 20 years to Julian when she discovers his wedding ring hidden and sealed in an envelope. She remembers Julian telling her he lost this ring the summer their daughter Ruby was five. Why did Julian lie to Flora?
Flora has always taken so much pride in her marriage to Julian. Now everything is in question. Are there other secrets Julian is keeping from her? What happened that summer so many years ago?
I love how this story takes the reader through the entire marriage. It's a full circle encompassing everything with details and memories, some happy and some painful. The early financial struggles, the slow road to success and what happens after Flora finds Julian's wedding ring. It's a deep dive into their relationship, their careers, their close friendships and their family life with Ruby. Sweet, sweet Ruby!
I listened to the audiobook narrated by the fabulous Marin Ireland. If you've ever listened to her voicing skills you will always be drawn to her skills as a narrator.
I enjoyed this story of an invested marriage suddenly at risk and I recommend this book to other readers who enjoy walking alongside well-developed characters struggling through the messiness of what's most important in their lives.
Julian and Flora live in Los Angeles and are celebrating their daughter Ruby’s high school graduation before she leaves for college in NY. While searching for a photo to include in a gift for Ruby, Flora finds Julian’s original wedding ring, which he lost years ago, making her question everything.
Good Company explores the relationship between a husband and wife, a woman and her best friend, Margot, and parents with their daughter. It’s not a fast-paced novel but character driven, and jumps around from present day back to NY, when Margot and Flora were aspiring actresses, to when Flora and Julian were a new couple, trying to make ends meet and support Julian’s theater company, to when Margot began her relationship with her husband, David, and to the secret Julian has kept for years.
As in The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney writes so well about people and their characteristics, good and bad — I enjoyed unfolding the complicated family and friend dynamics in this story.
Thank you to Ecco Books and NetGalley for providing an advance reader copy of Good Company in exchange for an honest review.
One of my GR friends made an astute comment earlier this week. She opined that the proof of a great author is not their first book, but their second or third. So, Good Company was my chance to put that idea to the test. I loved The Nest, Sweeney’s debut book. The story here covers the Fletcher family - the parents, Flora and Julian, both actors, and their daughter, Ruby, along with their close friends Margot and David. The story wanders all over the place. Flashbacks to when the adults were young, present day in LA after they have achieved various degrees of success. The supposed flashpoint of the story is Flora’s discovery of Julian’s original wedding ring hidden in a file cabinet, a ring supposedly lost in a pond years earlier. The story covers a variety of topics - marriage, parenthood, the acting life, friendship, success, adultery. It’s life in all it’s messiness. Unfortunately, what it’s not is riveting. It’s sweet, the characters are realistic, but it’s just ok. I just couldn’t get engaged in their lives. Marin Ireland, the narrator, did a decent job. She tried to impart emotion into the telling of the story, but she wasn’t given a lot to work with. My thanks to netgalley and Harper Audio for an advance copy of this book.
Cynthia D’Apix Sweeney, author of the wonderful novel, ‘The Nest’, unleashes a collision of universal forces: love, sex, marriage, parenting, friendships, ambition, jealousy, desire, infidelity, careers, social chronicles of turbulence, economic rivals and seductive pursuits, in “Good Company”.
It’s a story about grownups and growing up...from New York to California. Page turning - women’s fiction - the story deals tenderly and honestly about adult life - shifting dynamics and tensions between two couples....and one daughter. Flora is a voice over actress. Her husband Julian started his own Theater Company called ‘The Good Company’. Margot plays a physician on a popular soap opera series. Her husband, David ‘is’ a physician (pediatric surgeon).
The characters are all seriously real. When unexpected adversity descends upon Flora....she must navigate a discovered secret and betrayal. The fragility of marriage— complicated by friendships— and parenting is profoundly humane.....reflecting the unease that life can be....
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney imbues human flaws with generosity of spirit and observed intelligence. She’s a natural storyteller....but where ‘The Nest’ is more animated in scope—‘Good Company’ warrants a more quiet introspective contemplation.
.....A moment of peaceful beauty....(a simple ‘excerpt’ I experience at my house, too): ���When Flora walked outside into her yard, which always left her breathless.... she loved the smell of “the bitter morning air perfumed with eucalyptus, saw the hummingbirds darting in and out of the flowering bougainvillea and the tiny yellow finches eating seeds from the wild rosemary”.
Thank you Netgalley, Ecco, and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Blech, really?? I’m so disgusted with this. It started out somewhat promising and just disintegrated into the usual batch of “rich people problems” and a bunch of tired stereotypes about affairs and actors - including and especially an 11th-hour, deus ex machina (re)appearance of an ultra-stereotypical Upper West Side therapist. BTW, I’m so sick of (bad) therapists or therapy as plot points! I just don’t understand the point of this book at all!! I could perhaps have read and enjoyed a novel about Margot alone, and her marriage to a stroke survivor and her career “trapped” in a long-running evening hospital soap opera type of show were both sort of interesting to me. But Flora and Julian never became real, multidimensional people to me, I never cared about them at all or enjoyed reading about their stupid theatre company or understood how it was more than an incidental background to the rest of the plot - which, at the end of the day, is Just Another Book About a Cheating Spouse (do we need more?), and not an interesting one at that. And, if I had to read any more about their perfect little spoiled, snotty, beloved by all manic pixie dream girl daughter, Ruby - barf! I’m so sorry, but I suppose I just need to retire this genre of novel from my reading list, as I was ambivalent about The Nest as well (although liked it better, actually - unbelievably!). Sorry to hurl tomatoes, as I know this book is beloved by many and, like the last one, raking in the $$...let’s just stick with a fittingly formulaic sign-off and say that it’s not the book, it’s ME!
I listened to “Good Company” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney narrated by the notable Marin Ireland. I’ll listen to anything she narrates. She’s perfection. And as far as author Sweeney, I’ll read anything she writes. It’s a perfect combination.
In “Good Company”, Sweeney explores marriages, family, female friendships, infidelity, and the crazy theatrical world of actors. The novel centers mostly around Flora, a woman married for over 20 years, and who has an adorable daughter, Ruby. Her best friend is Margot, who’s she’s known as long as her husband Julian. All three, Margot, Flora, and Julian were in theatre together in their 20’s. Margot found her husband, David, while performing in a play at the park in NYC. David is a pediatric cardiac surgeon; he plays a minimal role in the story.
The story opens with Flora finding Julian’s wedding band in a file drawer. Julian lost his ring over a decade ago, in a lake, according to Julian. Obviously Julian lied, and Flora begins questioning her marriage. Unfortunately, Margot has loose ties to the missing ring. Flora then questions her friendship with Margot, along with all those significant people along Flora and Julian’s marriage.
Sweeney is gifted in telling stories of contemporary families. Ireland’s voice adds to this notable story.
In the new book by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Good Company, a surprising discovery causes a woman to reevaluate her marriage, her relationship with her best friend, and the path for her future.
Flora and her husband Julian have the type of marriage that people envy, the “real deal.” It hasn’t always been easy. They’ve weathered ups and downs in both of their acting careers, raised a daughter who’s about to head off to college, and they’re looking forward to what’s next.
Then one day in an old filing cabinet, she finds Julian’s original wedding ring in an envelope. The ring he said he lost years ago. What she learns about the ring will cause her to reexamine her marriage, her future, and her relationship with Margot, her best friend.
“She’d lost her husband and her best friend and couldn’t figure out which one she wanted back first—if she wanted them back at all. Here was the rub: to have been chosen—first by Margot, then Julian—to have been plucked from her life into theirs, it had been the greatest fortune of her life...”
Margot, meanwhile, who has been a cast member on a long-running television medical drama, is trying to figure out what she wants next. Flora and Julian have been there for her and her husband for years, through victories and challenges—will all of that go away?
Like she did in her first book, The Nest, in Good Company, Sweeney looks at the way multiple people are affected by an event. It’s narrated by many of the main characters and alternates between past and present.
As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for some good drama, so I liked this. It’s a little slow at times and the characters aren’t entirely sympathetic, but I was hooked on their crises. (Better than dealing with my own!)
Spring is officially here! As we welcome much-anticipated warmer weather, I am excited to recommend the perfect book to take to the park and read outside. “Good Company” by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney is filled with charm, humor and grace. I was captivated by the way the author writes intimately about human connection including the ties between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives and friends.
The story begins when 20 years into her happy marriage, Flora Mancini discovers an envelope containing the wedding ring her husband claimed to have lost years prior. Early in their marriage, Flora and Julian Mancini were struggling husband and wife artists living in Manhattan, making just enough to raise their daughter, Ruby, and keep Julian’s theater company afloat. The family's move to Los Angeles brings stability and success as they reconnect with their long-time friend turned Hollywood star, Margot. When Flora discovers Julian's ring, everything she thinks she knows about herself, her relationship with her husband and her best friend, Margot, is flipped upside down. Watching the characters continue to evolve and change, even late into adulthood, will feel very relatable for many. The book demonstrates how despite our best efforts, life can get in the way of the relationships we share with others.
You may think you know what happens, but this is not a predictable read. It will be a very fun story to discuss. I can’t wait to hear what the book club thinks about Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s marvelous book.
A secret can be held because when it is revealed, it will bring about a wonderfully surprising element into one's life. A secret can also be devastating to the people who hold it, bringing about disaster for relationships that have been on solid footing for many years.
Flora has been married to Julian for many years, and she believes, even though they have struggled to maintain an acting career in upstate NY and live in Manhattan they have had a good life. It was secure, happy and one where their big break seemed to come when they relocated to Los Angeles. There they were able to reconnect with Flora's best friend Margot and her doctor husband, David. The contrast in the two couples's life style is massive. Margot and David don't struggle at all, for they are wealthy, accomplished, and certainly quite the opposite to Flora and Justin. Margot has become a highly successful actress while Flora stays at home and becomes a helpmate to the wishes and desires of Justin who longs for a successful drama career. There are lessons in contrasts, and yet, they don't let jealousy stand in the way of "eternal" friendship. All seems well until Flora makes a discovery, stumbles on a secret she was never destined to know, and the wonderful relationships between husband and wife and best friend to best friend falls apart.
There is much going on in this story as there is always much going on in life. Flora and Julian have a child, Margot and David are childless by choice. The couples are separated because of their successes or lack of. There is a huge wealth factor that widens the contrast, yet even though these things exist, the couples remain friends, as Margot and David act as surrogate aunt and uncle to Flora and Justin's child. However, when the wedding ring that Justin claimed he lost while swimming in the lake, turns up as Flora is looking for something else, questions arrive, lies are told, and a reevaluation of their lives is upon the four characters.
Forgiveness comes in many forms and yet does the hurt ever go away? Can what was once solid and dependable be rebuilt? Does forgiveness allow one to deny betrayal?
This book was well written as the characters were well defined. We were allowed to see them as empathetic creatures, while also witnessing the realities of marriage, devotion, and what makes for a lasting relationships. The one concern both Jan and I had was the slowness at the start. We kept on questioning ourselves, "Is there a story here?" Then, at about the midway point, the story evolved into one that made the reader think that question we often ask ourselves, "What would I do?"
If you enjoy family dramas, ones that delve into the question that arise in relationships, you might enjoy this story.
Thank you to Edelweiss for a copy of this newly published book. Thank you also, to Ms Sweeney and Ecco Books! To understand and look inside the things that weave a marriage together is often a difficult task. From the outside, appearances might look wonderful, but as they always say, looks can be deceiving and so as Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney looks into two marriages in this contemporary story, we see that old adage in play, detailing lives that lead them on an entirely different path than the one they seemed to have been on. Jan and I enjoyed this book and had a fine discussion on what constitutes a relationship.
I was wondering how Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney would follow up her excellent debut novel The Nest. I'm happy to say her sophomore effort is just as entertaining, but in a quieter, deeper and more absorbing way.
While The Nest focused on an actual family, Good Company examines the kind of families you form through friendship and work; additionally, some of the book's characters are involved in the worlds of film and TV, where many of the passions, struggles and resentments in real families are played out in rehearsal or on set.
The book's main character is Flora Mancini, a voice actor living in L.A. with her TV actor husband, Julian, and their gifted daughter, Ruby. On the day of Ruby's high school graduation, Flora stumbles upon Julian's wedding ring hidden in an envelope in an old filing cabinet. He had claimed to have lost it 13 years earlier. Why is it here? This symbol of commitment and fidelity leads her to think back on her life, and whether her marriage has been based on secrets and lies.
As in The Nest, Sweeney offers up various third-person narrators, getting us deep into their psyches. Besides Flora, Julian and Ruby – who goes off on a trip to Spain with her boyfriend and his family right after graduation – we meet Margot, a famous actress from a nighttime medical drama (and Flora's best friend), and her husband, David, a former paediatric brain surgeon who had a stroke and is now working at a desk job in a medical clinic.
With the big narrative questions planted firmly in the present – what happened to that ring, and who knew about it? – Sweeney expertly fills in the histories of everyone involved. The story of how David met Margot – and, by extension, Flora and Julian – is lovely, and I won't give away any details except to say it will charm anyone who's been to the Delacorte in Central Park.
Gradually, we come to know and care about all of these characters, and others, even minor ones. There are no villains, just sometimes people acting on their impulses – which at times defy logic. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that there are many unresolved things at the end, but this felt true to life.
Sweeney captures the energy and enthusiasm of off-Broadway rehearsals and fast-moving TV sets with telling, authentic details. (One especially hilarious scene features the makeup artist on Margot's TV show.)
New York City and L.A. emerge as distinct settings, almost like characters themselves. And in some ways this book is about artistic fulfillment and people finding a sense of home and family in these contrasting cities. (The book's title refers to a small, independent New York City theatre company co-founded by Julian.) There's also a bucolic East Coast summer theatre that comes into precise focus.
Despite the occasional cliché ("thick as thieves"), Sweeney's prose is evocative and swift-moving. There's a minor reference to a Virginia Woolf novel at one point, and at her best, Sweeney probes as deeply and as honestly into human behaviour as Woolf. I'm not exaggerating.
This is a character-driven story about marriage, friendship, and unraveling secrets. The characters are complex and give the reader full access into the messiness of their lives. Its somber and reflective tone is effective in conveying the tenderness of the story.
The audiobook is great and I'm pretty sure the reason I liked this story so much. Given the slow pace of the story, it's likely I would've lost interest otherwise. I'd been hesitant to read this book, since I didn't like The Nest much (2⭐️). Glad I gave this one a try!
I am so very tired of reading about it in books. I don't often read early reviews because I love to go into books blind without reading the synopsis because it's one of those things that makes me happy (most of the time). I also like to figure out my own opinion before looking for others'. Unfortunately, it ends up with me having to read books that aren't my taste, like this one which was given to me in exchange of an honest review.
Good Company follows Flora (but you also get other people's povs), a woman who finds out about her husband's multiple affairs before and after their wedding. Sigh. I was hoping for something else, something other than this cliché plot-point but that didn't really happen. However, if you're looking to read about a failing marriage and what makes a family and friendship I guess this could be for you? As long as you're fine with cheating in books unlike me who is so over it. It's just one too many stories, you know...
This wasn't for me but I hope you'll enjoy it! The writing and story-telling was good. The narrator's voice was also good.
(Thank you for letting me read and review an ARC via Netgalley)
I listened to the audiobook of Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney through Netgalley. It was read expertly by Marin Ireland and ran for 8 hours and 59 minutes. Good Company was character driven and the plot was told in alternating time lines. Part of the story was told in present time and part was told in the past. Good Company was a Read With Jenna book pick for the month of April.
Flora and Julian had a good marriage. They were envied by many for their obvious love they easily displayed for each other through their body language and small gestures. They respected each other and were best friends as well as lovers. In the beginning of their marriage, they struggled financially. They were both actors and earning good salaries was difficult but they always made things work. They had one child, a daughter named Ruby. She was their light, their everything and they spoiled her even though they tried not to. Julian ran a small theater company with a partner called Good Company. As financial security became harder and harder to obtain, Flora and Julian were left with no choice but to move to Los Angles where more opportunities awaited them. In Los Angeles, both Flora and Julian finally found success in their careers. Their careers took off and they became more secure financially. They were also reunited with their long time friend, Margot, who had become a successful soap opera star.
By this time, Flora and Julian had been happily married for over twenty years. On the morning of their daughter Ruby’s graduation from high school, Flora decided that she wanted to give Ruby a particular photograph for part of her graduation present. She would put the photo in a frame and give it to Ruby after her graduation ceremony. The photo represented a really happy time in all their lives. Unable to find the photo in all the places Flora thought she would find it in, Flora went to the garage to look for it. While rifling through a draw in the garage, Flora stumbled upon an envelope that not only held the photo but also contained Julian’s long lost wedding band that he had supposedly lost in the lake more than ten years ago. Flora was in disbelief. Julian had never lied to her or had he? Flora began to question her marriage and all she thought she knew about herself, her husband and her best friend, Margot. Would Flora’s marriage be able to survive what she was about to discover? What had really happened all those years ago and why did Julian think he had to lie to her? Would her friendship with Margot remain intact or would it suffer from the repercussions of this discovery, too?
This was the first book that I have read by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. It was about marriage, friendship, motherhood and secrets. The complicated bonds that existed between husbands and wives, friends, lovers, parents and children were explored. I enjoyed listening to Good Company and recommend it highly.
Thank you to Harper Audio for allowing me to listen to this advanced copy of Good Company in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Character driven plots are something that I’m still acquiring a taste for. One thing I really appreciate about them is how you get an in-depth look at what makes each character tick. You learn these people inside and out and it’s all done in 300 pages - oh and there is a story that’s being told too! I think the psychology of books like this is what makes for a great book club discussion.
In Good Company, Ms. Sweeney captures the nuances of the relationships between her characters beautifully. These are flawed people who are all struggling in one sense or another and demonstrates the reality of what people perceive life to be versus what it actually is. Each chapter and narrative switch, builds off of the events prior to it. Sometimes you don’t quite understand how they relate, but by the end of the chapter you do. That always kept me going because I was invested in the outcome of the singular event that tied everything together.
Overall, it’s best to know what you’re going into with this one as to know if you would like it. I'm really glad to have read it and I look forward to Ms. Sweeney's next book!
Thank you so much to Ashlyn Edwards at Ecco Books and the author for the gifted arc in exchange for an honest review!
The photo had pierced her. It had . . . all she could think, staring at her younger self, was how everything good was already behind that woman in the photo, and how she didn't know it yet.
A marital crisis is brought about when a woman finds her husband's wedding ring tucked away in a drawer - the same ring he claimed to have lost in a lake years before.
What follows is a tedious "scenes from a marriage" rehash featuring attractive theater people who really have nothing to complain about, yet spend over 300 pages doing just that. The book was an overwrought mess, and surely could have used more some humor. I was curious enough to see how it all ended, then annoyed that I had wasted my time doing so.
No worries, though - I suspect I'll have forgotten this whole unpleasant incident a few months from now.
“Good Company” was my first read by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and I think I just don’t like her writing style. This book was kind of painful. I really genuinely liked the storyline of Margot and her struggles with her life in Hollywood and the secrets of her past she was trying to keep; but the storyline of Flora and her cheating husband just felt so trite and overdone.
The structure of the book truly did not work for me; it was all over the place, the timeline just floated between past and present constantly, and as flawlessly as Marin Ireland delivered the narration of the audiobook it was very hard to comprehend and keep the timelines straight in my head. The acting was very well done and all of the voices she did for the different characters helped, but I did not connect well with the book itself. I’m sure some people will like it, with it being about the struggles of a marriage of actors in Hollywood it’ll tempt a lot of people, but I just feel like it wasn’t well executed and then it just ended…I don’t feel like there was much clear resolution. It needed an epilogue.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced audiobook copy
I’m not really sure what to make of this one. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it because I did, especially the parts that described the inner workings of the theater, which I thought was quite fascinating. The title of the book, Good Company, is actually the name of the theater company that is owned by Julian Fletcher, the husband of the main character Flora Mancini. At first, I thought this theater company would be the main focus of the story, however it turned out to be more of a backdrop, an element of the characters’ pasts back when they lived in New York City prior to moving to Los Angeles. Rather, the story focuses on the aftermath of one very simple action — while looking for a photo to give to her daughter for her graduation, Flora stumbles across an envelope that she opens to find her husband’s wedding ring, which he claimed to have lost in a pond many years ago. This triggers a reckoning for Flora that threatens to upend not just her marriage and her family, but also her relationship with her best friend Margot.
To me, this story actually had a lot of potential, but the execution didn’t work too well. The main problem is that the story meandered and jumped around way too much. While I understand the necessity of incorporating the various characters’ backstories, it was done in a way that was distracting, as the details were often inserted in the middle of a scene or thought, basically going off on a different tangent and interrupting what was happening at the moment — by the time it got back to the current scene, I had already forgotten what had happened earlier. The plot felt like it was all over the place, which made the story overall difficult to follow. Also, I thought some of the plot points felt a bit forced and unnecessary — such as the encounter between Flora and her therapist Maude, for example — and didn’t do much for the story except drag it out more than necessary.
In terms of the characters, I actually didn’t care for any of them, for some reason. I’m not sure if perhaps the structure of the story affected my ability to connect with the characters or maybe I just didn’t find any aspects of their thoughts or actions relatable to my own — all I know is that I had a hard time rooting for any of the characters.
I haven’t read this author’s debut novel The Nest yet so I don’t have a comparison point, but I have heard good things about that one, so I still intend to read it at some point. As for Good Company, I feel it’s worth a read, especially if you liked this author’s previous work — it just wasn’t really for me.
Received ARC from Ecco (HarperCollins) via NetGalley.
After more than a year of social distancing, who isn’t craving some good company?
If that’s still a few months away for you, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney has the next best thing: Her new novel, “Good Company,” is a story about the profound joy (and heartache) of family and friends. It’s an affecting reminder that no matter how comfortable and settled things feel, life is always about change — changing places, changing careers and even changing loyalties.
Sweeney’s comic debut, "The Nest,” was a breakout success in 2016. To hilarious effect, it focuses on four siblings bickering over their late father’s trust fund. “Good Company” is a sweeter novel, gentler all around, though the stakes are higher than the disappointments of a few middle-aged leeches.
Also, "The Nest,” is very much a novel about living in New York, while “Good Company” is about having left it behind for Los Angeles. Sweeney made the cross-country transition herself in 2009, so she knows how questioning that decision can remain a haunting compulsion. Her new characters — actors of various kinds who have moved to L.A. — are still judging their commercial productions in La La Land against artistic endeavors in the Big Apple. For most readers, though, “Good Company” will resonate as a story about those rare choices that define life by cleanly dividing it into. . . .
Well-written albeit slow going look at marriage and motherhood
Flora Mancini has been happily married for twenty years. But that foundation crumbles when she finds her husband's wedding ring--the one he claimed he lost when their daughter was five--in the back of a drawer. Now she wonders what exactly Julian has kept hidden from her all these years. Is their whole marriage, their whole life, based on a lie?
This is such a hard book to review, because I loved Sweeney's THE NEST so very much. And GOOD COMPANY, while a nice book, is just not THE NEST. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad book, it just did not move me as much as THE NEST.
GOOD COMPANY offers a thoughtful look into marriage and relationships. It's one of those interesting novels where it feels like not much happens, yet it truly covers the span of an entire relationship--a whole marriage. But there is a lot of ruminating, a lot of speculation, and a lot of angst. It's a very New York sort of book, even if Flora and Julian move to Los Angeles when their daughter, Ruby, is young.
This book is well-written, of course. Sweeney is a wonderful writer. It switches between time periods (the present, and going back in Flora and Julian's relationship) and various points of view, which include Flora, Julian, Ruby, and Flora's best friend, famous actress Margot Ledder. I probably felt the most for Ruby--it's hard to really sympathize much for the adults here. And this is a very "theater" book, with Flora, Julian, and Margot all being in the business. If that's not your thing (it's not mine), it's a little harder to feel engaged in some of the story.
Overall, this is an interesting read, but it can be slow going at times and hard to feel engaged with all the characters. If you like introspective, character-driven reads or you're a theater geek, GOOD COMPANY may be for you. 3 stars.
Special thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.
Expected publication date: April 6, 2021
After the success of “The Nest”, Cynthia D’Aprix-Sweeney returns with “Good Company”.
Flora Mancini has a seemingly perfect life; with her handsome and talented actor husband, Julian, beautiful and intelligent daughter, Ruby, and a great relationship with her best friend, Margot, Flora feels blessed. But when she discovers her husband’s wedding ring in a well-hidden envelope (a wedding ring he claimed to have lost), she begins to question the stability of her relationship. When confronted, Julian admits to a life-altering event that happened years ago and what’s worse- Margot knew and didn’t say anything about it. Now, everything Flora thought she had is turned on its head, and she needs to decide what’s worth fighting for, and what needs to be let go.
Sweeney has a way of writing character-driven, emotionally-charged family dramas (as was evident in “The Nest”). The plots aren’t full of action or gripping suspense (in fact, not a whole lot happens) , the characters and their interactions with each other form the entire plot of the novel. Yet “Company” is still able to draw a reader in, and pull at the heartstrings.
Julian, Margot and Flora are all actors (on stage, screen and voiceover work respectively) , and their theatre troupe “Good Company” meets yearly at a piece of property in the country, where they direct and stage their own productions. The wild, creative souls that meet here add flavour to the background of the deeply-rooted emotional connection that our three protagonists share.
The story is told from the perspective of Flora, primarily, with some Margot (and even a little bit of Ruby) thrown in. It takes place both in the past and the present, and although I see why Sweeney chose this method, I found it confusing, as the time frames did not stand out, and it took me a few pages to determine if I was reading about “now” or “then”.
I loved the heartbreaking relationships that D’Aprix-Sweeney explores, and the life-changing consequences that can spurn from a single choice. Fans of “The Nest” will definitely connect with this novel, and even after only her second published novel, it definitely seems that Sweeney has found her niche.
QUICK TAKE: fair warning, I'm a bit biased as I am a huge fan of the author's previous book, THE NEST. And I love a good, messy family drama. And sure enough D'Aprix Sweeney delivers again with GOOD COMPANY, this time the story of a complicated marriage on the rocks when the wife discovers her husband's missing wedding ring, a sign that he might have strayed in the relationship at some point. The book is complex and soapy, with interesting characters and a story that kept me guessing where it was going. It does read a bit rarified and "white people problems", but ultimately I really enjoyed this one and recommend it to anyone who enjoyed THE NEST.