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The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship

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A grave loss changes the lives of three friends in ways they never imagined in this warm and heartrending debut novel.

What makes a wife a lover?
For Kate, the spark went out of her marriage long ago but her husband doesn't seem to notice. Their role as parents consumes their lives so they need to rekindle the romance they once shared.

What makes a woman a mother?
For Jo, a high-powered career has led her to believe that she doesn't have a single maternal instinct. When an orphan unexpectedly enters her life, she is forced to confront her own unhappy childhood and the walls it has built around her heart.

What makes a man the love of your life?
For Sarah, home is the steamy jungles of Africa while the man of her dreams waits in the air-conditioned confines of Los Angeles. Her longing for this man from the past is blinding her to a new love standing right in front of her.

What these women all have in common is a friend with a generous soul, an irrepressible spirit- and a serious illness. In her final letters, Rachel raises one last question: What makes a friend live in our hearts forever?

344 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Lisa Verge Higgins

7 books178 followers
Before she started writing novels, Lisa Verge Higgins worked toward her PhD in organic chemistry at Stanford University. She ditched all that for her true passion: Writing life-affirming, critically acclaimed women’s fiction, and, as Lisa Ann Verge, penning emotionally-intense romances about hot men and dangerous women. Published worldwide in eighteen languages, Lisa has earned a Bean Pot and a RITA nomination, and is the winner of three Golden Leaf trophies and five RT Book awards. When not writing, she hunts wild mushrooms, studies Turkish, hikes mountains, and keeps tabs on the antics of her three wild-and-talented daughters.

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5 stars
267 (15%)
4 stars
725 (41%)
3 stars
580 (33%)
2 stars
137 (7%)
1 star
26 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews
September 1, 2011
I'm pretty surprised that this novel is getting such good reviews. It makes me wonder if I was in the right frame of mind when I read it, and I did read it on a good friend's recommendation. The plot was promising enough but when I got down to reading this novel I found the dialogue and the story, overall, to be quite simplistic and the characters not all that well developed, and not as likeable as I would have hoped.
Profile Image for Debbie.
904 reviews58 followers
May 4, 2011
Four very different friends have remained so with much effort, but when tragedy strikes and deathbed requests are made the least that will happen is head scratching, the most will be life changing.
Ms. Higgins has a sure to be hit on her hands in this her first foray into mainstream women’s literature. The first thing that was apparent to me was her astonishing storytelling capability, the second is her capacity to pull some deep emotions from me while reading. She gives us a heart-wrenching tale that will affect even the most stoic readers and she does this will a gracefully flowing narrative that will transport her readers from the most exotic of locations to the mundane of everyday life. She makes this happen with the most incredibly unforgettable characters not stopping with the stars of her novel but right on down the line to the most minor of roles. Her main characters are outstanding in their density and Ms. Higgins does an excellent job of making them very real to her audience. They were not only authentic in the roles they played but also very multi-dimensionally faceted in their personalities. She did an excellent job of making them believable and at times frustratingly so. This is not a romance even though there are romantic elements to the story it’s instead a love story about what it really means to be a friend, what it takes to keep that friendship alive and makes those of us who haven’t done that ashamed and looking up names that we have forgotten about along the way of growing up and growing older.
Anyone who has ever had a lifelong friendship should not only read this but buy it for that special someone they call friend, every woman who’s ever experienced the whole hearted friend love between herself and another woman should experience this awe inspiring novel. And every man who loves a woman will get a better insight into her should he read this tale.
So go out and get this the first “Best Read” of 2011, you won’t be sorry and you will be a better friend if you do.
Kudos to you Ms. Higgins for an inspiring, heart warming and very emotional read.
Profile Image for Shonda.
501 reviews48 followers
January 26, 2011
4.5 Stars

Friends Sarah, Bobbie Jo, “Jo”, and Kate are shocked to their core when Rachel, the most daring and vivacious of the group, suddenly dies of cancer. After her passing, each woman receives an unexpected letter from Rachel. In her letters, Rachel requests something of each woman: to experience life outside of her comfort zone.

For Kate, that means sky-diving. Kate was spontaneous and care-free before she become a married mom of three. Somewhere along the way her marriage to Paul become routine and stale.

Jo is a high-powered business woman aiming for the vice presidency at her company, a position that is so close, she can see the name plate on her office door. Rachel’s request for her is to become her daughter’s legal guardian. And Jo knows absolutely nothing about being anyone’s mother.

Rachel’s request of Sarah is to reconnect wtih her one true love. Either Sarah makes it work with him or find closure so she can move on and find love again.

The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship is a book about taking risks. Leaving what’s comfortable in order to discover the treasures life has to offer. As each woman fulfills Rachel’s requests, she learns valuable lessons about the woman she once was and the woman she has now become. Rachel’s presence is very much felt throughout the book, making her a significant character. I enjoyed how the author used her letters and flashbacks to tell her story. I could vividly picture Rachel as I was reading.

I’ve been looking forward to The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship since I first heard about it last summer. I’m very pleased to say it was worth the wait. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Kristi .
448 reviews38 followers
February 21, 2011
This book begins with Kate, a stay-at-home mom afraid of flying, getting ready to jump out of an airplane - to skydive. She has been sent on this "mission" by a letter that she received from one of her dear friends Rachel. Rachel has passed away and sent a letter to many of her friends and family with last requests. This book focuses on three of those - Kate's, Jo's and Sarah's. They were brought together by Rachel and the four of them had remained good friends despite their differences.

As I stated, Kate was a SAHM then we have Jo - a single workaholic, and Sarah - a nurse who worked overseas in many unpleasant areas. When Rachel dies, unexpectedly to them, but something she was well aware of, she sent each of them letters with one last request. These requests led them on journeys in which they learned to let go and began to hold on. Rachel pushed each one of them to do something they would never have done on their own, which led them to discover things about themselves that they may never have seen.

This is a great story about the strength of women's friendships and the bonds that they share. If you are looking for a book for your book club, this would be a good one. There is also a reading group guide available.
Profile Image for Apryl.
63 reviews
August 10, 2015
Unlike everyone else who reviewed this book i didn't rate it as high . The only character I really wanted to know more about was the one that had the least attention. Each of the characters had to struggle to learn more about themselves and made significant changes promoted by a friends dying wish. The book was interesting at times but some sections I had a hard time staying connected.
Profile Image for Holly.
665 reviews
July 19, 2011
summer fiction reading... interesting but not captivating! ;-)
Profile Image for Emily.
358 reviews
February 8, 2021
I've been in a book rut lately and this was a nice story about 4 girlfriends that finally got me happy to read again. The story is a nice reminder to not live your life in a rut, but go outside your comfort boundaries sometimes to experience a greater happiness.
Profile Image for Joana Gonzalez (Elphaba).
652 reviews32 followers
June 26, 2012

As Cores da Amizade fala-nos de três mulheres e de uma amiga. Fala-nos de três vidas díspares e de uma vida já perdida. Fala-nos de três formas diferentes de amar e de uma amizade incondicional que perdura muito para além da morte.

Sarah, Kate e Jo superam juntas, lentamente, a morte súbita daquela que lhes provou o verdadeiro significado do que é estar vivo e será com força de um afecto comum que ultrapassarão o último desejo da sua amada Rachel.
Sarah é uma flor exótica por descobrir que se perde em países de terceiro mundo dando, de com agrado, a sua vida e alma por todos aqueles que nunca tiveram nada. Ela salva vidas, falta salvar-se a si própria enterrando um passado que há muito deveria estar cicatrizado.
Kate é uma mulher com todos os seus apêndices, ou seja, marido, filhos, um lar quase perfeito e uma rotina onde apenas ela e as suas emoções ficam esquecidas. Ela terá de se libertar, para se reencontrar e voltar a ser feliz.
E Jo, bem Jo tem tudo! É rica, bonita, bem-sucedida e um exemplo de força, determinação e independência, mas o tempo passa e quis uma alma recordar-lhe que a assustadora palavra amor exige partilha. Ela terá nas suas mãos a oferta daquilo que mais terno guardava o coração da sua melhor amiga.
Amizade, amor e felicidade são três conceitos preciosos que preencherão as vidas Delas, as mais importantes, as que nunca poderão ficar esquecidas e as que terão de ficar unidas, sempre, independentemente do caminho ou do destino que Rachel lhes reservou.

Sumariamente, em palavras simples, esta é uma belíssima história sobre a coragem de recomeçar, servindo de exemplo para todos aqueles que se acomodam às fragilidades da vida.
Abordando temáticas muito diferentes, extremamente actuais, esta narrativa permite ao leitor explorar diferentes perspectivas de encarar a morte, de analisar o presente e de recordar o passado, tocando nas feridas mais profundas, para alcançar a libertação num futuro.
Da miséria ao luxo, atravessando relacionamentos conturbados, passando pelas dificuldades de carreira, muitos são os temas perscrutados envolvidos em emoções extremas que chegarão com facilidade a um leque alargado de leitores que, através de uma ou outra acção, acabará por se sentir próximo dos intervenientes em algum momento da história.

Opinião completa: http://historiasdeelphaba.blogspot.pt...
Profile Image for Paula  Phillips.
4,838 reviews294 followers
September 24, 2012
I first read Lisa's book "One good friend deserves another" and I loved it so much. It made me feel in a way a bit sad as I would have loved a group of friends like that but as I spent so much time moving around, it just didn't work out. Thank goodness, now though for the internet as I do have a great group of friends online who I can chat to about anything and have a set of good laughs. I enjoyed Lisa's book so much, that I decided to check out what else she had written and came across her earlier book "The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship". In this book we meet four friends Rachel , Jo, Kate and Sarah - they meet when they were younger and now have moved on with their lives but always stayed close. This novel is all about facing your fears and finding out who you really are and what you are capable off. The novel starts off with Rachel passing away and the three remaining friends recieving letters , each containing a dying wish from Rachel and a list of instructions for them to complete that wish. For Kate, now a mother and wife - her whole life is planned and mundane at times. Prior motherhood Kate was the life of the party and now in order to pump that spice back into her life, Rachel has challenged her to go sky-jumping. In going sky-jumping will Kate re-discover her passion in life for adventure but at the same time will she lose her marriage as she starts to wonder - What If and is she really happy in her life ?
Sarah, has only ever loved one person in her life and for the past fourteen years she has been holding a place for him in her heart , Rachel challenges Sarah to go and find him and to see whether it is true romance or time for closure. When Sarah does find him , the chemistry is still sizzling , but is it real or just in the moment ? It seems Sarah has captured the eye of fellow work colleague Sam ? Is Sam her Mr. Right ? and last, but not least Jo - she is the least likely one of them to ever have children , but she has deep down in her the mothering instincts. Will Jo readily accept Rachel's wishes as guardian of her daughter Grace ?
Find out all this and more in the amazing Sisterhood novel of "The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship" by Lisa Verge Higgins and if you haven't checked out her other book "One good friend deserves another" do so.
Profile Image for momruncraft.
390 reviews27 followers
September 21, 2011
Four friends. Together through thick and thin. And then cancer. The life of the group, the rock, the glue that held them together, was gone. On her death bed, Rachel penned letters to each of the women asking them to do the one thing that eluded them while she was alive.

Kate, the seemlingly perfect stay at home mother of three young ones. Perfect house. Perfect husband. Perfect life. Or so it seems. In her quest to do everything perfectly, to give everything to her children, she has lost herself. Her friends cling to the woman she once was: the woman that was Kate BK (before kids), BM (before marriage). In the spirit of Rachel's sometimes outlandish zeal for extreme sports: Rachel asks Kate to go skydiving. Something Kate had promised she would do with Rachel "one day." Struggling to let go of the image of perfection that envelopes her day to day life, there is very little she can do to control a free fall from an airplane.

Jo, the successful career woman. Forever single. Men at the drop of a hat. Or dress. She wholeheartedly believes that the mothering instinct doesn't necessarily come with the boobs, either that or hers are defective. Rachel's request for Jo shocks everyone but no one more than Jo herself.

Sarah, forever living in a realm of lost love. Unable to see or feel the love of a man right before her eyes, yet she longs for the love of a man she hasn't seen or talked to in years. Without closure, without answers, she hasn't been able to move on. Her friends are tired of watching her miss out on real love. Rachel's request takes Sarah on a journey that will open her eyes and teach her the true meaning of love.

Somehow, three letters written from a woman who knew her friends better than they seemed to know themselves end up changing all of their lives, bringing them closer together, and mending relationships thought long lost.
Profile Image for Michelle.
Author 13 books1,361 followers
September 15, 2012
I picked this up because the Kindle version was $0.99 and it had fairly good reviews. I ended up liking it more than anticipated. It’s not life-changing but the writing is sharp and I was pulled into the story immediately.

Four women in their late thirties have been best friends since college. One passes away and leaves “instructions” for the other three. I found her instructions/tasks for Jo downright irresponsible as well as the way these were carried out. So this was either unrealistic or Rachel and her family are not very thoughtful or together people. I did follow this storyline with interest and liked the Jo character. I just found it a little off-putting and it did not endear me to Rachel (the deceased).

I also found it odd that all four are knocking on the door of 40 and only one has ever been married, and her not happily. Plenty of people aren’t married at 40 but sheer odds would not place this at 25%. It’s not like they’re divorced or in a long term relationship (or any relationship for that matter). Aside from Kate, at the start of the book everyone in this group is single, never been married, and not in a relationship of any kind. And Kate is married but is vastly unhappy! Really, not one functional relationship in this group? I found this hard to buy and not representative, and I live in an area where people get married much later in life. I realize the author probably had to do this to carry out other plot points but it did not ring true.

That said, I enjoyed the story and it was a fast read. Nothing overly poignant but well worth the dollar, and then some.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,456 reviews513 followers
June 13, 2012

The Proper Care & Maintenance of Friendship is a heartwarming story of self discovery and second chances. After Rachel's death from cancer, long time friends Jo, Sarah and Kate, each receive a posthumous letter with a last request. Honouring Rachel's dying wishes proves to be a challenge for the women who are forced to confront uncomfortable truths and learn valuable life lessons. Kate is asked to parachute from an airplane and rediscovers her lost zest for life and adventure, Sarah is encouraged to open herself to love, and career driven Jo is given the care of Rachel's greatest treasure, her daughter, Grace.

With warmth and humor, Higgins invites us on a journey with these women as they step out side their comfort zone and find courage they never imagined they possessed. The four women, Rachel, Jo, Kate and Sarah are reflections of women we may know, or in fact may be, and as such easy to relate to. Their tasks are not easy for any of them but their doubts and missteps endear you to the characters as much as their triumphs. The friendship which has endured despite their differences, is enviable and Higgins captures the bond wonderfully.

The story is emotive, heartbreaking and heartwarming in turn but ultimately is a light, easy read. The plot is fairly predictable for the genre but in a way that is comforting.

This is a great choice of book for when you need a little reassurance you are not alone. A celebration of life and love, The Proper Care & Maintenance of Friendship is an enjoyable read and a reminder to live every day as if it is your last.
Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,053 reviews1,374 followers
January 3, 2011
Letters, letters, letters...did yours arrive yet?

They weren't letters you would want to receive, though. They were letters from Rachel, a dear friend who had died unexpectedly, and contained her last wishes for each friend to carry out. Would you go to great lengths to fulfill a friend's dying wish?

Most of the requests were outlandish, but were sent to be sure her friends would find happiness or do something they would never dream of doing. She really wanted all of her friends to improve something in their lives.

Of course the friends felt obligated to carry out the requests even though Kate felt hers seemed to be the most daring and Jo argued that what could be worse than the one she received...but then came Sarah's.....all agreed hers seemed the most fun. They also thought that the attorney had mixed up the letters...how could Rachel expect Kate and Jo to complete these requests. Or maybe she knew something they didn't know about what was best for her friends?

The book is refreshing, light, and at times a teary read that lets you enjoy some adventures both good and bad with the characters. It also makes you realize that sometimes unexpected circumstances are just what you need even though you don’t think you could even come close to being able to achieve the goal.

As her dear friends gathered at the grave for the year anniversary of Rachel’s death, they all agreed: “Rachel didn’t want us to through it alone.” Page 335
Profile Image for Rhapsody.
112 reviews
July 11, 2011
I found the story so beautiful. It was a celebration of friendship and I could not help but relate to it through my own friendships with my three closest friends. The story revolves around a circle of four friends, Rachel Braun, Sarah Pollard, Kate Jansen and Jo Marcum. Rachel Braun passes away and leaves a letter for each of her friends to do one thing for her. For Sarah, it is to seek a man she has always loved, Colin O'Rourke. For Kate, it is to jump out of a plane and for Jo, it is to look after her daughter, Grace. By following Rachel's last request, the women go on a personal journey and discover the importance of friendship, family, love and respect for themselves. It also binds the remaining friends closer together and gives them a greater appreciation for each other. A lovely story that warmed my heart and reminded me that life is more than just work. Life is enriched through our friendships. Work just pays the bills.
Profile Image for Mary  BookHounds .
1,301 reviews1,782 followers
January 30, 2011
This story is all about taking chances and getting out of your of comfort zone. Four women, friends forever, find themselves at a loss when one member, Rachel, dies of cancer. She has never told the other three about her condition. Before she dies she sends letters to the other members of the group and makes them face their fears. The requests make each person leave their comfort zone and in the process overcome things that are holding them back in their lives.

The story reminded me a bit of the Friday Night Knitting Club and I think it will appeal to those readers as well. Each one of the girls in this group has an issue that once overcome, will help them live a much happier and productive life. There were some laughs and tears while reading this and overall, it was just a nice thing to do for a few hours.
1 review1 follower
July 16, 2013
I loved reading this book. Each of the characters reminded me in some way of each of my closest friends. The stories of how each of the women were asked by their old friend to face a big fear of theirs to see, and more importantly feel, what was on the other side were wonderful. I loved this book and when it came time to select bridesmaids gifts for my recent wedding I chose to give them all a copy of this book. I wrote inside each book cover to each unique and wonderful friend of mine about our friendship and what it means to me. Lastly I wrote about my wish for them not only to have friendships like in this book all their lives, but to also find their happiness in their life. Thank you Lisa for writing this wonderful story.
19 reviews
October 14, 2013
What these women all have in common is a friend with a generous soul, an irrepressible spirit- and a serious illness. In her final letters, Rachel raises one last question: What makes a friend live in our hearts forever?

Thought-provoking!! Something I found of insight was an how we hang onto what people were in our mind's eye, idolizing, fantasizing. Rose -colored glasses so-to-speak. I enjoyed the thought behind this and what a cool idea to send private letters to your friends....!!
Profile Image for Lorrie Thomson.
Author 3 books59 followers
November 2, 2013
Kudos for The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship! I identified the most with Kate, the mom who needed to jump out of a plane to remember who she was before kids. But I think Jo, the single businesswoman, was the sweetest surprise of all. Loved her journey in which the reader got to know her slowly as she discovered the courage to know herself and heal the hurt child inside her. And, of course, I had a crush on Sam. Who doesn’t love a color-blind gun runner?
369 reviews4 followers
May 3, 2011
Four friends............one dies and leaves letters for the other 3 that will change their lives on many levels. This is a fast reading "chick" book that I thoroughly enjoyed and would have liked to have given another half star (C'mon Good Reads). Maybe because of the kind of book it is I could not rate it as high as some of the others.
Let's petition good Good Reads for those half stars.
Profile Image for Beth Nanney.
36 reviews
September 10, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. There isn't a woman in the world that can't relate to these women and their long-standing friendship. The bond that these women share has survived many years, marriage, divorce, children, and death. Through tears and laughter they always retuned to one another. We should all be so lucky to form friendships like these.
70 reviews
January 6, 2013
I read this book in less than 24 hrs (with the mandatory food, conversation and sleep breaks)" I also cried at the end. Everyone need a friend like RAchel to shake you out of their comfort zone and make then face what will challenge them most. All the characters had depth and substance
Profile Image for Jackie.
105 reviews1 follower
May 7, 2013
This was a wonderful story that every woman should read. Real friends are sometimes hard to find and retain. When they are "true blue," you do so much because of the mutual love and respect. We should all be so blessed.

Thank you for such a neat story.
Profile Image for Martha Newman.
157 reviews
July 10, 2013
Very good story about a long-time friendship between four women who are each given a task as a legacy by one of the group who dies of cancer. Each task is designed to take them out of their comfort zone and challenge them to expand themselves.
34 reviews
February 11, 2011
I enjoyed this book. It made me want to have a close group of friends!
12 reviews
March 11, 2012
Author wrote romance novels. this is her first book of women's fiction. YUK. Abandoned it.
24 reviews1 follower
June 18, 2012
Predictable. A bit entertaining.
433 reviews2 followers
October 4, 2012
Gorgeous book. Bunch of friends losing one to cancer and them sorting things and in the process sorting out their own lives.
Profile Image for Annie.
236 reviews1 follower
July 12, 2013
Such a wonderful sweet/sad/hopeful story. Didn't feel cheesy either. Got this as a gift from one of my best friends....pretty perfect
119 reviews
November 25, 2013
had some very meaty items in here and some big fluff but it worked for my mindset :-)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 220 reviews

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