Eileen Goudge






Pocket Books  May 2006

Reviewer Sissy Jacobson




Eileen Goudge has a habit of creating several characters, mixing them up; then, like pawns in a game of chess, she moves them around. There are times she has me holding my breath and biting my nails, while I sit up all night reading a book I canít put down. In this case, IMMEDIATE FAMILY made a zombie out of me the next day. She doesnít write what we think of as romantic suspense, but she does write romance and keeps the reader in suspense. Many times Iíve yelled at her, ďEileen, donít do that!Ē Itís a good thing she canít hear me because I love her books just the way they are.


IMMEDIATE FAMILY begins at Princeton during freshman registration. Jay Gunderson, a farm boy from the Midwest, meets Franny Richman from Brooklyn when he helps her find the wallet she lost. This is the beginning of a life-long friendship.


Next we meet Emerson Fitzgibbons who stands out like a beacon. From the old moneyed crowd on the east coast, with their names in the social register, Emerson, or Em as her friends know her, hates the faÁade she has to put on. She canít change her mannerisms, which have been drilled into her since birth, but when her father died, she and her mother found out they were broke. After pawning jewelry, furniture, and paintings, Em is still sent to the best schools. Her mother is trying to deny that they are no longer in the social register.


Then we meet Stevie who grew up in California with her hippie mother, not knowing the identity of her father. There has always been something missing from her life even though her mother is wonderful, the original earth mother type. She has supported them all these years by making clay pots. They rode around in an old, yellow VW Beetle with stickers all over it, supporting one cause or another.


Fifteen years later, the old friends meet up again at their college reunion. They have kept up with each other, been there for each other all these years. None of them would have missed this reunion. Jay married Frannyís roommate, a beautiful woman from a wealthy European family. Their marriage is on the rocks.


Franny is obsessing over having a baby. Her eggs are drying up and she hasnít met Mr. Right. A sperm bank is out of the question. Jayís wife has the answer for her. Will she take it?


Emerson married the man her mother approved of. They had been friends since childhood. They have a little girl they both adore, but found their friendship was better than their marriage, and are now divorced. Even though heís remarried, he is still friends with Em and extremely generous to her in every way. Em falls in love with a Nigerian LPN who is her motherís night nurse, and attends medical school during the day. Her mother finds out about their affair and is having him deported.


Stevie learns who her biological father is at a crucial time in his life. She is a television reporter; he doesnít allow reporters near him. Can she win him over? Can they become friends?


I thoroughly enjoyed every page of IMMEDIATE FAMILY. Goudge has woven together a group of the most diverse characters you could think of and made a family of lasting friendships out of them. The characters are so realistic that by the end of the book, you are part of their circle. Jay has made a career in advertising, Franny is a literary agent, Em owns a PR firm, and Stevie is a newscaster in television. Jayís beautiful wife, Vivienne, is the least likable of them all. Sheís selfish and self-centered, spoiled by her wealthy parents, and does as she wishes.


Do yourself a favor and read IMMEDIATE FAMILY. I know some of you will say the characters are too good to be true. That Jay, Emís ex-husband, and her lover Reggie, are too saccharine, but in this world filled with angst, give me some good guys and good friends to retreat to and recharge.


Now if we can just get Eileen Goudge out of the kitchen and back to her desk to give us another winner. This one will be hard to beat, take my word for it. 


May 2006


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