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The Children

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From New York Times bestselling author Ann Leary comes the captivating story of a wealthy, but unconventional New England family, told from the perspective of a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret (and famous) life on the Internet.Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother's home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, a From New York Times bestselling author Ann Leary comes the captivating story of a wealthy, but unconventional New England family, told from the perspective of a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret (and famous) life on the Internet.Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother's home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, and the generations of Whitmans before him. While Charlotte and her sister, Sally, grew up at "Lakeside," their stepbrothers, Spin and Perry, were welcomed as weekend guests. Now the grown boys own the estate, which Joan occupies by their grace--and a provision in the family trust. When Spin, the youngest and favorite of all the children, brings his fiancé home for the summer, the entire family is intrigued. The beautiful and accomplished Laurel Atwood breathes new life into this often comically rarefied world. But as the wedding draws near, and flaws surface in the family's polite veneer, an array of simmering resentments and unfortunate truths is exposed.With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family, as they are forced to grapple with the assets and liabilities - both material and psychological - left behind by their wonderfully flawed patriarch.


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From New York Times bestselling author Ann Leary comes the captivating story of a wealthy, but unconventional New England family, told from the perspective of a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret (and famous) life on the Internet.Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother's home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, a From New York Times bestselling author Ann Leary comes the captivating story of a wealthy, but unconventional New England family, told from the perspective of a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret (and famous) life on the Internet.Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother's home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, and the generations of Whitmans before him. While Charlotte and her sister, Sally, grew up at "Lakeside," their stepbrothers, Spin and Perry, were welcomed as weekend guests. Now the grown boys own the estate, which Joan occupies by their grace--and a provision in the family trust. When Spin, the youngest and favorite of all the children, brings his fiancé home for the summer, the entire family is intrigued. The beautiful and accomplished Laurel Atwood breathes new life into this often comically rarefied world. But as the wedding draws near, and flaws surface in the family's polite veneer, an array of simmering resentments and unfortunate truths is exposed.With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family, as they are forced to grapple with the assets and liabilities - both material and psychological - left behind by their wonderfully flawed patriarch.

30 review for The Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Why this book, a story about privileged people, living an offbeat lifestyle in the house that was owned by their dead husband, and stepfather appealed, while the book The Nest, with the privileged characters within that novel, bugged the heck out of me. Both dealt a great deal with money and inheritance, but there the similarities end. There is something about the tone, the writing style, the characters that I found so much more approachable. Lottie, said to be agoraphobic, Sally, definitely bip Why this book, a story about privileged people, living an offbeat lifestyle in the house that was owned by their dead husband, and stepfather appealed, while the book The Nest, with the privileged characters within that novel, bugged the heck out of me. Both dealt a great deal with money and inheritance, but there the similarities end. There is something about the tone, the writing style, the characters that I found so much more approachable. Lottie, said to be agoraphobic, Sally, definitely bipolar, Joan, their mother who does not like anything to be changed and Spin, the stepbrother who with his brother Perry actually own the house according to the trust, who brings home his fiancé, which vastly changes the status quo. There is much to the backstory of these characters, scars and secrets, a mommy blog, banjos, bluegrass music and a handyman/love interest whose fate is entwined with these characters. There is humor, darkness, revelations and past indiscretions exposed. What will happen and how this family and its members will fare kept me reading. This author and I seem to get along very well together as I loved her novel , The Good House, as well. ARC from Netgalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    This book is satisfying on many levels ...The writing is top notch and the characters are each offbeat-eccentrics. Anyone who has dealt with their siblings after the death of their parent...over the estate of their childhood home...will especially enjoy this tale. The quirkiness & complications that 'the-adult-children' must deal with after Whit Whitman dies hinges on the fact that this is a 'blended' family. There are many light hearted scenes, especially towards the beginning when we are being This book is satisfying on many levels ...The writing is top notch and the characters are each offbeat-eccentrics. Anyone who has dealt with their siblings after the death of their parent...over the estate of their childhood home...will especially enjoy this tale. The quirkiness & complications that 'the-adult-children' must deal with after Whit Whitman dies hinges on the fact that this is a 'blended' family. There are many light hearted scenes, especially towards the beginning when we are being introduced to the characters and getting to know their personalities. Swimming naked one night was hilarious. 'Naked' swimming seemed symbolic to the unraveling secrets, resentments, and fear of being exposed. About half way into the story ...( when the narration shifts and a darker undercurrent takes over), hidden secrets begin to surface. Death, Love & inheritance is more complicated than ever when you are part of a family like the Whitman's ( one with generations of history...blended with step children). I laughed many times, but I also felt how genuinely harrowing the emotions are around loss of a parent ... or step-parent....or spouse. Strip away the jobs, take away people's gossip, bitching, and judgments of one another...... the real mystery is why we can't seem to see that none of us are any more - or - less than a 'naked-noodle-child'.....(with wants of warmth, comfort, security, and love). Thank You St. Martin's Press, Netgalley, and Ann Leary

  3. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    Ann Leary's The Children is not earth shattering, but it's a good story with particularly interesting characters. I liked Leary's The Good House and I enjoyed The Children in much the same way. The story is told from Charlotte's perspective. She is in her late 20s, living with her mother in her childhood home, writing a "mommy blog" about a family she doesn't have. Her own family and living situation are complicated. There are a recently dead stepfather, inheritance issues over the house she liv Ann Leary's The Children is not earth shattering, but it's a good story with particularly interesting characters. I liked Leary's The Good House and I enjoyed The Children in much the same way. The story is told from Charlotte's perspective. She is in her late 20s, living with her mother in her childhood home, writing a "mommy blog" about a family she doesn't have. Her own family and living situation are complicated. There are a recently dead stepfather, inheritance issues over the house she lives in with her mother, a somewhat unstable sister, two very different stepbrothers and a sometimes lover caretaker living on the property. The story focuses on the turmoil one of the stepbrother's fiancée brings to the family. Once you get the set up, the story becomes quite predictable -- but the story is besides the point. What made The Children worth reading were the characters -- especially Charlotte. These are flawed, slightly offbeat, a bit deceptive and quite self deceiving people, but somehow they are still likeable -- especially Charlotte. The end threw me off and had me scratching my head, but I won't say more to avoid spoilers -- and it didn't spoil the book -- it just seemed a bit more dramatic than necessary. Still, an entertaining quick read. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to an advance copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Most entertaining audio...gossipy family issues with an enjoyable element of surprise. I've also read and loved another novel by this author, The Good House. Most entertaining audio...gossipy family issues with an enjoyable element of surprise. I've also read and loved another novel by this author, The Good House.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    First of all, this is what I thought The Nest would be! This book deserves all of the accolades that The Nest received. I read it in one day and really loved it. It has several things that are right up my alley: a beautiful country house in disrepair, a dysfunctional WASPy family with lots of secrets, quirky but developed characters, and some bluegrass music thrown in for good measure. There was a slight mystery, some creepy parts, some funny parts. And the writing was excellent, the kind that y First of all, this is what I thought The Nest would be! This book deserves all of the accolades that The Nest received. I read it in one day and really loved it. It has several things that are right up my alley: a beautiful country house in disrepair, a dysfunctional WASPy family with lots of secrets, quirky but developed characters, and some bluegrass music thrown in for good measure. There was a slight mystery, some creepy parts, some funny parts. And the writing was excellent, the kind that you barely notice because it rings so true.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    I'm somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars on this one. Boy, family relationships are tough enough to deal with, but when you throw money into the mix, all bets are off, you know? Charlotte Maynard and her sister Sally grew up at "Lakeside," a large Connecticut home that has been in their stepfather's family for generations. At times it seemed as if their stepfather, affable musician and artisan "Whit" Whitman, cared more for Charlotte and Sally than his own two sons, Perry and Spin, who only visited L I'm somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars on this one. Boy, family relationships are tough enough to deal with, but when you throw money into the mix, all bets are off, you know? Charlotte Maynard and her sister Sally grew up at "Lakeside," a large Connecticut home that has been in their stepfather's family for generations. At times it seemed as if their stepfather, affable musician and artisan "Whit" Whitman, cared more for Charlotte and Sally than his own two sons, Perry and Spin, who only visited Lakeside on weekends and vacations, and were treated a bit like houseguests. When Whit died, a provision in the Whitman family trust allowed for his widow, Joan, to continue living at Lakeside. Slightly agoraphobic Charlotte lives with her mother, where she writes a secret (and quite successful) blog, and still has a complicated relationship with her old boyfriend Everett, who serves as the estate's caretaker and lives in a cottage nearby. Sally, a musician, has more than her own share of problems to contend with, and flits between New York City and Lakeside, where she both craves and is repelled by the love of her family. The relative peace is shattered when Spin—everyone's favorite as both a child and a grownup—brings home his new fiancée, Laurel, a beautiful, confident, and utterly irresistible woman with a life full of accomplishments and an air of mystery. Laurel's glamour and energy bring an interesting dynamic to the family, and her curiosity and questions make her a catalyst for Charlotte in particular to begin acting outside of her comfort zone. But as Laurel begins ingratiating herself, old wounds are reopened, old secrets come to light, and hidden angers bubble to the surface, threatening displacement and dissatisfaction among everyone. As she proved with her last book, The Good House , Ann Leary is at her best when she is chronicling complex, flawed characters and the ripples they cause. The characters in The Children , particularly Charlotte, Joan, Sally, and Everett (who is more than meets the eye), are pretty fascinating, and this book is at its best when examining their relationships, interactions, and foibles. The problem is, not only is Laurel not complex, she's utterly a stock character. If reading my plot synopsis gives you an inkling of where you think the story will go because it sounds familiar, you're probably right. And that is what is utterly disappointing about the book—that such a talented writer would rely on cliché (and shallow cliché at that), without even giving an explanation of why the character does what she does. (It's funny; at one point in the book one character alludes to an old horror movie gimmick, but that holds utterly true for the book as well.) While I didn't love this book, there's much to like, particularly Leary's characters and her storytelling ability. This may not be as good as her previous novel but it's still an interesting look at family dynamics and dysfunction—and when is that ever boring? See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....

  7. 4 out of 5

    Connie G

    Blended families often have hidden secrets and resentments, and the adult Maynard and Whitman children are no exception. When Whit Whitman died, his widow (from his second marriage) and her two daughters were living in the shabby family mansion on a Connecticut lake. But the two Whitman brothers (from Whit's first marriage) now own the home. When Spin Whitman brings his fiancee to the historic lakeside home for a few weeks, buried feelings from the past come to the surface. While some of the char Blended families often have hidden secrets and resentments, and the adult Maynard and Whitman children are no exception. When Whit Whitman died, his widow (from his second marriage) and her two daughters were living in the shabby family mansion on a Connecticut lake. But the two Whitman brothers (from Whit's first marriage) now own the home. When Spin Whitman brings his fiancee to the historic lakeside home for a few weeks, buried feelings from the past come to the surface. While some of the characters are not likable, they are interesting. We see the divide between the middle-class, and the "old money" residents of Litchfield County that send their children to private school and vacation in the Hamptons. Social media, where a person can take on a new personna or destroy lives, has an important part in this book. Ann Leary has a dark, quirky sense of humor, and she populated her book with unreliable narrators and eccentric, flawed individuals. Will this family survive when truths are revealed?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Malia

    4.5 stars I read Ann Leary's 'The Good House' a few years ago and remember enjoying it, so I was very excited to win a copy of her latest novel 'The Children' this summer. This novel carries a similar tone as 'The Good House', but I found it even more engaging and I zipped through it in two or three days. The story centers around a family in Connecticut, whose patriarch has passed away (no spoiler!) and it explores the aftermath of this event. Mostly, however, this is a book about relationships we 4.5 stars I read Ann Leary's 'The Good House' a few years ago and remember enjoying it, so I was very excited to win a copy of her latest novel 'The Children' this summer. This novel carries a similar tone as 'The Good House', but I found it even more engaging and I zipped through it in two or three days. The story centers around a family in Connecticut, whose patriarch has passed away (no spoiler!) and it explores the aftermath of this event. Mostly, however, this is a book about relationships we have with the people in our lives and with ourselves. It explores love, friendship, duty, fear and secrecy and I kept turning the pages way past my bedtime. Leary has a beautiful way with language and with constructing an atmosphere and building up her characters, layer upon gauzy layer. Her reveals are subtle and jarring, making for an unpredictable yet quite believable story. Initially I wondered whether I would like the protagonist, Charlotte, but by the end I had grown quite fond of her and wished I could read more about her and her family and what they will do next. I read a lot of books, so many get lost in the muddle of my memory, but I have a feeling I will be remembering this one for quite some time. This is a great, quick summer read, highly recommended! I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and have written what I think is a fair and honest review. Thank you! Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    I adore this author. I loved The Good House, her first book, so knew I had to read The Children, and was finally able to, thanks to my BFF Cindy. Both books are light and clever at first, then they gradually gather a greater depth along the way. It makes for such an interesting, surprising read, one that turns out much better than you might suspect at first. The characters are fully drawn and I could picture the lake setting and the two houses as if I'd spent my summer vacations there. The childr I adore this author. I loved The Good House, her first book, so knew I had to read The Children, and was finally able to, thanks to my BFF Cindy. Both books are light and clever at first, then they gradually gather a greater depth along the way. It makes for such an interesting, surprising read, one that turns out much better than you might suspect at first. The characters are fully drawn and I could picture the lake setting and the two houses as if I'd spent my summer vacations there. The children are now young adults consisting of two brothers, the sons of Whit Whitman who owned the lake, and two sisters, the daughters of Whit's second wife Joan. The Whitmans come from money and Whit's will makes sure the estate goes to his sons while merely allowing Joan and her girls to live there as long as Joan wants to. At first all is hunky dory but this arrangement can't go on forever. When one of the sons brings home a new girlfriend with dollar signs in her eyes, it's about to get very complicated. It was all so very well done, even containing a fair amount of mystery and suspense which made me devour the second half of the book. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Noeleen

    When Whit Whitman dies, his wife Joan and step daughter Charlotte continue to live in the large New England lake house belonging to previous generations of Whitmans. Although Whit’s two sons, Perry and Spin own the estate, there is an understanding that Joan, Walt’s second wife, can live there until she dies. This is a contemporary story of a blended family, Joan, sisters Charlotte and Sally, Joan’s two daughters, brothers Perry and Spin, Whit’s two sons and Everett who lives on the estate and w When Whit Whitman dies, his wife Joan and step daughter Charlotte continue to live in the large New England lake house belonging to previous generations of Whitmans. Although Whit’s two sons, Perry and Spin own the estate, there is an understanding that Joan, Walt’s second wife, can live there until she dies. This is a contemporary story of a blended family, Joan, sisters Charlotte and Sally, Joan’s two daughters, brothers Perry and Spin, Whit’s two sons and Everett who lives on the estate and whom Whit looked upon as a ‘third’ son. Now Spin has decided to get married to Laurel. With Laurel thrown into the mix, things begin to get very interesting. I found this a really odd story but yet it was a refreshing read. It was full of eccentric characters that were all flawed in one way or another, some much more than others. Charlotte was my favourite and I loved her ‘online’ life. I thought that Sally’s story was moving and I would have liked to get to know Perry’s character more. He was always just there in the background. We felt his presence but we never really got to know him fully. The novel explores familial themes, especially in relation to blended family ties, how secrets are slowly revealed, grievances eventually aired and how cracks begin to appear in various relationships. There are many light-hearted and quirky incidents which mixed very well with the underlying darker themes of family dynamics, sibling relationships, birthrights and family entitlements. Ann Leary’s writing is top notch and experiencing her work for the first time ensured that I will definitely be back for more. I found the story a slow burner for such a short novel. It’s a book that requires patience. It was about three quarters the way through when the story finally started coming together and the real battles and tensions began. I loved the last quarter of the book and I thought it was unfortunate that it took that long to get there. By the time the book was finished, I found myself wanting more. Overall, an enjoyable, if somewhat out of the ordinary read. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review

  11. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    It’s difficult to rate this book, there are things I really enjoyed, yet I was left with a feeling akin to a shoulder shrug. Since the main character, Lottie, earns some of her money publishing listicles (web article as numbered/bulleted list, apologies if this is superfluous, the term was new to me), I thought I’d try a review as listicle. Five Reasons You May or May Not Enjoy This Book 1. You take pleasure in good writing, wry wit and conversational storytelling even when it’s not going anywhere It’s difficult to rate this book, there are things I really enjoyed, yet I was left with a feeling akin to a shoulder shrug. Since the main character, Lottie, earns some of her money publishing listicles (web article as numbered/bulleted list, apologies if this is superfluous, the term was new to me), I thought I’d try a review as listicle. Five Reasons You May or May Not Enjoy This Book 1. You take pleasure in good writing, wry wit and conversational storytelling even when it’s not going anywhere in particular. 2. You like stories about eccentric WASP families where no one actually says what they think and go about their lives with a certain detachment. 3. If you deem a recluse living a clandestine internet existence, a bipolar musical savant and a self-involved, hoarding matriarch as quirky characters rather than having some form of mental illness, then this will hit your idiosyncratic buttons. 4. If you can identify the villain/sociopath early on, yet can suspend disbelief that no one in the book seems to take note, at all, then hop right onto the incredulity bus. 5. If you enjoy a languid story that takes an abrupt turn, too quickly reveals family secrets and leaves you without a cathartic moment, then step right up and feel the pain. As you may have guessed, there was only one note that provided reading love. I rounded up to three stars because the writing was compelling throughout and even when it becomes a different story, one which might have made for a more introspective read, it still held my interest.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    I mean, nothing life-changing or anything like that; I just enjoy spendin' me some time with Ann Leary.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cher

    4 stars - It was great. I loved it. Somewhat of a slow build but the conclusion of the novel was worth the wait. As with The Good House (one of my favorite books), I enjoyed and appreciated Leary’s subtle, dry wit and sense of humor. ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: To me, feelings are like ghosts. Nobody’s ever been killed by a ghost. Nobody’s ever photographed one. But people fear them. First Sentence: One August morning in 1956, Whit Whitman sat down to a breakfast of 4 stars - It was great. I loved it. Somewhat of a slow build but the conclusion of the novel was worth the wait. As with The Good House (one of my favorite books), I enjoyed and appreciated Leary’s subtle, dry wit and sense of humor. ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: To me, feelings are like ghosts. Nobody’s ever been killed by a ghost. Nobody’s ever photographed one. But people fear them. First Sentence: One August morning in 1956, Whit Whitman sat down to a breakfast of soft-boiled eggs and toast with his grandmother Trudy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I love, love this book! Fascinating characters, family issues, a few surprises and funny situations. And a little sadness. After a somewhat slow start the author's beautiful writIng and sense of humor drew me in and held me captive to the very last page. Ann Leary is a new author for me and you bet I am now going to read The Good House!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alena

    This is a very compelling, kind of creepy novel about a family crumbling as quickly as the dilapidated home in which they're living. Liars, scammers and cheaters all set in an idyllic lakeside home with a deep history. Just a great page turner.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    I am sorry to say that this book was only ok for me. It had a lot of potential… it had a great beginning to pull the reader in and interesting, quirky characters, but the characters didn’t evolve as I hoped they would throughout the course of the book. There is a plot, but I kept forgetting what it was. I guess I needed to be reminded of what was going on. I could sense who the “bad guy” was , but I couldn’t remember the specifics of what happened with certain characters in the beginning to reme I am sorry to say that this book was only ok for me. It had a lot of potential… it had a great beginning to pull the reader in and interesting, quirky characters, but the characters didn’t evolve as I hoped they would throughout the course of the book. There is a plot, but I kept forgetting what it was. I guess I needed to be reminded of what was going on. I could sense who the “bad guy” was , but I couldn’t remember the specifics of what happened with certain characters in the beginning to remember why this character was the “bad guy”. It was a fast and easy read and to be fair, I did have pretty high hopes for this one because I really loved The Good House. The main character, Charlotte, is a bit of a shut in at 29, well maybe on her way to becoming one and she lives in her childhood home with her mother. The book centers around Charlotte and her family (she has a sister and 2 stepbrothers), as well as the house they live in. There are secrets to be revealed as well as drama and deceit, but the suspense getting there is lacking and in fact became boring at times. Things get complicated because of an inheritance left by their father, Whit, and because they are a blended family. The thing I most enjoyed about this book was the character flaws and quirks and the side story of Mr. Clean. I was glad that something finally happened at the end, but it was too late to save the book. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    I loved Leary's The Good House and once again the author takes on a dysfunctional family. Charlotte (Lottie) makes her living writing a lucrative "mommy blog" although she's neither a wife or a mother. She lives with her quirky mother and has an unusual love relationship with Everett, the caretaker who lives on their property. Add in an unstable sister, two stepbrothers, and inheritance issues after the death of Lottie's stepfather. The situation explodes when one of her stepbrothers brings home I loved Leary's The Good House and once again the author takes on a dysfunctional family. Charlotte (Lottie) makes her living writing a lucrative "mommy blog" although she's neither a wife or a mother. She lives with her quirky mother and has an unusual love relationship with Everett, the caretaker who lives on their property. Add in an unstable sister, two stepbrothers, and inheritance issues after the death of Lottie's stepfather. The situation explodes when one of her stepbrothers brings home a fiancée. Secrets and long-held resentments are exposed. Midway through, the book takes a darker turn and I was totally invested in how things unfolded. I didn't totally buy one of the resolutions involving a legal issue but it wasn't enough to ruin the book. I turned the last page wanting the story to go on for the characters I came to care about, especially Lottie and Everett. I enjoy Leary's writing style and look forward to her next book! **Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judy D Collins

    A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Ann Leary returns following The Good House (2013) with THE CHILDREN continuing with a New England complex blended family, with dark secrets. From humor, wealth, and lots of dysfunction—surrounding Lakeside-an entertaining contemporary domestic suspense with Leary's trademark style. Narrated by Charlotte, 29-year-old single, with no children; however, is hiding behind a fake mommy blog, and has A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Ann Leary returns following The Good House (2013) with THE CHILDREN continuing with a New England complex blended family, with dark secrets. From humor, wealth, and lots of dysfunction—surrounding Lakeside-an entertaining contemporary domestic suspense with Leary's trademark style. Narrated by Charlotte, 29-year-old single, with no children; however, is hiding behind a fake mommy blog, and has not left home since her stepfather Whit’s death, three years prior. Whit loved telling family stories with cancer at age sixty-five and kept the diagnosis to himself—a few months before he died. His wife Joan did not tell the children until after he was gone. Gran was eighty-nine when she died (lots of family history). Charlotte along with her sister, Sally, grew up in his house. Lakeside Cottage (four generations) still owned by the Whitman estate and left to Charlotte’s stepbrothers, Perry and Spin Whitman. Joan had been allowed to live here for the remainder of her life as part of the family trust. Sally and Charlotte are not part of the trust, being Maynard's, not Whitman's. Sally lives in Manhattan, and Charlotte lives at Lakeside with Joan. It is free and she works from home. Plus, she is thinking of writing a book about Laurel Atwood, or turn it into a memoir. Charlotte wonders why Joan is so worried about the book, when he was dead when Spin met Laurel. Whit was a kind man and come across a little gruff, according to Charlotte. She had known him since he was two years old. He fell in love with her mother the summer of 1988 just before he turned forty. It was complex with the other spouses. Wealthy and eccentric. When he married her mom, he left his job at his father in law’s firm and lived off the interest of his trust. He was interested in American history—American bluegrass music and banjos. His obsession. Spin and Perry stepbrothers, visited every other weekend, holidays, and one month of the summer. Marissa, the ex wife had remarried to a wealthy husband. There is Spin’s girlfriend, Laurel from Idaho where Hemingway lived at the end of his life. Charlotte is intrigued with Laurel and there is mystery surrounding her. Then there is Sally, (bipolar) who has moved home after losing her job as a violinist in Manhattan—her past history is not so solid. The mysterious Mr. Clean. Everette, the caretaker. The night of the Fourth, the argument on the beach. From lovers, lies, fabrications, flaws, inheritances, wills, death, grief, regrets, and resentments—a blended family and the aftermath left behind by their patriarch, when secrets are unraveled. When people die, with a blended family or traditional families, things can get nasty. When it comes to real estate, money, secrets, stepfamilies, and siblings …. crazy. Consequences. From social media, intrigue, wacky characters, wit, mystery, quirky, eccentric and lots of emotional drama. The first part of the book is witty and comical, and the latter, darker- as the secrets are exposed, and come to the surface. New England wealth, evil shockers, with a blending of family cracks and fissures. Leary fans will enjoy, as well as fans of family drama and domestic suspense. She knows how to tell secrets! JDCMustReadBooks

  19. 4 out of 5

    abby

    Charlotte Maynard is awkward. She writes a popular mommy blog, but nothing about it is real. She's agoraphobic and almost never leaves the house she shares with her mother. As a teenager, she sneaks into a nearby boarding school at night and reads student medical records. Her college education is comprised of hiding out in the back of large lecture halls at Columbia University, but she isn't enrolled there. She idolizes a deceased stepfather, Whit Whitman, who isn't worthy of her admiration. She Charlotte Maynard is awkward. She writes a popular mommy blog, but nothing about it is real. She's agoraphobic and almost never leaves the house she shares with her mother. As a teenager, she sneaks into a nearby boarding school at night and reads student medical records. Her college education is comprised of hiding out in the back of large lecture halls at Columbia University, but she isn't enrolled there. She idolizes a deceased stepfather, Whit Whitman, who isn't worthy of her admiration. She stalks her stepbrother's girlfriend on social media, trying to know her before actually meeting her. Charlotte has the potential to be a creepy character, but she's not. Her actions are born out of a lifetime of neglect. Even the people who love her best do so incompletely: a self-absorbed mother, a bipolar sister, a stepfather who prioritizes banjos over family, a part-time lover, a golden child stepbrother with secret rage. She's bored, unaccomplished, and stuck. Her mommy blog is just her latest escape-- her fake internet husband just happens to resemble the real life boyfriend who won't commit to her. Even though Charlotte's world isn't quite real, it's peaceful and predictable, right up until her stepbrother Skip announces he's getting married to Laurel, a former almost-Olympic skier who the family has never met. Charlotte and her sister Sally alternate between sympathizing with Laurel, to being jealous and suspicious of her. There's just something about Laurel you can't put your finger on. No amount of stalking her facebook page prepared the sisters for the havoc she would cause. There's a lot that goes on in this shortish book. Around the time Laurel comes into the picture, Mr. Clean, a person who breaks into homes and does housework, returns to the lake community where Charlotte lives, creating panic among her neighbors and mother. There are a lot of flashbacks back to when the vaulted Whit Whitman was alive. A new police officer moves into town and starts showing an interest in the family. But the main story is the introduction of Laurel into the Whitman-Maynard family. I really enjoyed Ann Leary's writing style, and I devoured this book in about a day. I rarely get that hooked into a story. I give it four stars because the ending came too fast, and because Laurel was too obvious. *I recieved an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and netgalley

  20. 4 out of 5

    Icewineanne

    Buried resentments, secrets & truths are revealed after the father/stepfather dies, leaving his aging mansion to his natural sons. He raised his stepdaughters as his own in the home, while the boys lived with their mother. The girls, now grown, very attached to the house, still live in (& out) of the mansion with Joan, their mother. The will/trust allowed Joan to live out her life in the house, but the girls are not part of the trust. Now the boys are back and things are going to change. A terrif Buried resentments, secrets & truths are revealed after the father/stepfather dies, leaving his aging mansion to his natural sons. He raised his stepdaughters as his own in the home, while the boys lived with their mother. The girls, now grown, very attached to the house, still live in (& out) of the mansion with Joan, their mother. The will/trust allowed Joan to live out her life in the house, but the girls are not part of the trust. Now the boys are back and things are going to change. A terrific read. Highly recommended - 5 stars!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    Ann Leary has written another wonderful book.The book is told in the voice of Lottie who at 29 still lives in the family home with her mother Joan.The family is a blended one Charolette her sister Spin their stepbrother &Everett a family friend who acts as caretaker &Is Lotties love.When Spin brings his fiancée Laurel into the mix things will never be the same &someone in the house can not be trusted a true page turner. Ann Leary has written another wonderful book.The book is told in the voice of Lottie who at 29 still lives in the family home with her mother Joan.The family is a blended one Charolette her sister Spin their stepbrother &Everett a family friend who acts as caretaker &Is Lotties love.When Spin brings his fiancée Laurel into the mix things will never be the same &someone in the house can not be trusted a true page turner.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Must be that I'm entering a reading rut because this is the 3rd book in as many weeks that I have selected books that I don't care for. There were about six characters vacationing in a New England town who are eccentric and rich. I couldn't find one of them or their antics that I gave a darn about. Sorry Ann Leary, I'm going to chalk it up to being my reading mood and not your writing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Beth

    I won an advance readers' edition of this novel as a giveaway on Goodreads. Reclusive Charlotte is a 29 year old, still living at home with her mother in a rambling and somewhat dilapidated Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather Whit Whitman. Unknown to her family, Charlotte has a secret and lucrative life on the Internet, where she lives vicariously through an alter ego of her own creation. Now that her stepfather Whit has died, the lake house is owned by his sons Spin and I won an advance readers' edition of this novel as a giveaway on Goodreads. Reclusive Charlotte is a 29 year old, still living at home with her mother in a rambling and somewhat dilapidated Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather Whit Whitman. Unknown to her family, Charlotte has a secret and lucrative life on the Internet, where she lives vicariously through an alter ego of her own creation. Now that her stepfather Whit has died, the lake house is owned by his sons Spin and Perry, and Charlotte, her sister, and mother are allowed to live there thanks to largely Spin's generosity. Yet family tensions begin to build when Spin brings home Laurel, his beautiful and accomplished fiancé. As family secrets begin to emerge and a mysterious "Mr. Clean" continues to break into and clean houses in the neighborhood, tension continues to escalate for Charlotte and her family. I felt drawn to this book early on because of the curiosity and apprehension Charlotte and her sister feel to Spin's fiancé, who they still haven't met. They speculate about what she's like and avidly scope out her social media profiles - in short, they behave as many people do nowadays before meeting the significant other of a close family member or friend. Leary is able to naturally incorporate the trappings of our modern life - the internet, cell phones, blogs, Facebook, etc. - in a very natural way. I find that few novels really reference or attempt to incorporate these daily aspects and thought Leary did a great job of having technology be a part of the backdrop of the novel, without it overwhelming the story. I was also drawn to Leary's writing style, which is straightforward conversational, with help from the first person narration, but also has elements of story telling that reeled me in. In fact, the book opens with a family story that Whit used to tell about his grandmother, grounding the novel in a family history and a past that transcends the present characters. Additionally, certain passages struck me as particularly uniquely worded, such as Charlotte's description of her body slowly submerging into the lake for a swim at nighttime: "I'll watch my legs sawn off at the ankles, calves, knees, and finally the thighs as I wade into the dark water. When I'm cut off at the waist, I'll lie back and float like a spirit" (5). In addition to all this, and surprisingly because of the successful building of tension as the novel progresses, the narration was surprisingly comical. In particular, the character of Joan provided comedic relief, such as when she is told that Laurel is allergic to shellfish; "'Oh no,' Joan said, her voice conveying a deep sadness, but not because she pities people who have food allergies. Joan doesn't believe in food allergies. She thinks people have them to get attention" (17). And yet, despite such a strong narration and a promising beginning, all of the tension of this novel was deflated in a somewhat implausible ending when Charlotte discovers that she is not the only one hiding a secret life online. The once comical and story-filled novel devolves into a darker suspense story to see who is persecuting Charlotte. I don't want to spoil the ending for others, but I will say that I was disappointed that the resolution boils down to a greedy villain. In addition, while some characters are remarkably fully realized, others, like Perry and his family, read like mere stick figures with little depth. Despite significant promise, I was ultimately disappointed with the direction this novel took. I would have been happier with a less dramatic and dark ending.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Martie Nees Record

    A family dramaedy with quirky, lovable members written with real human flaws to make the characters seem believable. There is the multimillionaire father who is so cheap he never uses money. He barters for just about all his needs. His 2nd wife who never worked a day in her life but will spend hours talking about her accomplishments is most likely a borderline hoarder. Her two grown daughters; one is agoraphobic and the other is bipolar. Both are adored by their stepfather. They lived with him m A family dramaedy with quirky, lovable members written with real human flaws to make the characters seem believable. There is the multimillionaire father who is so cheap he never uses money. He barters for just about all his needs. His 2nd wife who never worked a day in her life but will spend hours talking about her accomplishments is most likely a borderline hoarder. Her two grown daughters; one is agoraphobic and the other is bipolar. Both are adored by their stepfather. They lived with him most of their lives. The father’s two grown sons are jealous of their stepsister’s relationship with their father. Throw in a tragedy or two and basically we have a typical dysfunctional 2016 family. Here is the question, after the father dies, who owns the once glorious but now more than just a mess, clutter filled lakeside home and grounds? Technically the stepbrothers do but how to you politely kick out your stepmom and stepsisters? The youngest brother has the harder time with the situation. He was a baby at the time of his parents’ divorce and has a strong bond with his stepmom. She considers him the son she never had. In steps the evil fiancé of the youngest brother and all hell, even worse than usual, breaks loose. Some scenes were hilarious. The book is narrated by the younger sister. She gets paid by a diaper company to write a mommy blog. Of course she is not a mother and is desperately trying to stop her followers from creating a “go fund me” for her disabled nonexistent son. Other times I felt that the author was stretching to be funny. I didn’t think the lakeside burglar known as Mr. Clean (he breaks into your home and leaves it spotless) was a necessary to the plot. Or maybe it was just one too many odd characters? All in all a really fun summer read that will also have you thinking about your own family’s dynamics. Publisher: St. Martin Press Publication date: May, 24, 2016

  25. 4 out of 5

    CL

    This story is about the intricate dynamics of a blended family once one of the parents dies and how it effects those still living depending on if it was your parent or your step-parent that is gone. The sons of the step-father have allowed Charlotte and her family to live there. Spin, one of the sons, brings home his fiancé, Laurel, and as their stay lengthens family secrets begin to come to light and the fragile bond they all have is tested. Interesting characters. I would like to thank the Pub This story is about the intricate dynamics of a blended family once one of the parents dies and how it effects those still living depending on if it was your parent or your step-parent that is gone. The sons of the step-father have allowed Charlotte and her family to live there. Spin, one of the sons, brings home his fiancé, Laurel, and as their stay lengthens family secrets begin to come to light and the fragile bond they all have is tested. Interesting characters. I would like to thank the Publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this ARC.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    4.5 stars Ann Leary’s The Children is sure to be a huge success. Her writing, character development and plot are beautifully constructed. Lottie Maynard lives with her mother Joan in a family home (Lakeside) left to Joan by her husband Whit Whitman. Once Joan dies, the home will pass to Whit’s children, Spin and Perry. The fragile relationships between the blended family members are tested when Spin meets a new woman, Laurel, and introduces her to the family. When Laurel and Spin end up staying w 4.5 stars Ann Leary’s The Children is sure to be a huge success. Her writing, character development and plot are beautifully constructed. Lottie Maynard lives with her mother Joan in a family home (Lakeside) left to Joan by her husband Whit Whitman. Once Joan dies, the home will pass to Whit’s children, Spin and Perry. The fragile relationships between the blended family members are tested when Spin meets a new woman, Laurel, and introduces her to the family. When Laurel and Spin end up staying with Joan and Lottie for a few weeks, a host of secrets are slowly revealed and life at Lakeside is significantly altered. The prose is wonderfully descriptive but direct and frequently entertaining. I loved the way the story unfolded and could not put it down until I had finished it. I did feel that the “villain” was a little obvious, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I highly recommend The Children and look forward to reading more novels by Ann Leary.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    My opinion. Quite possibly the BEST BOOK OF THE DECADE!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This is my first book by Ann Leary and after reading it, I plan to read her older books. I loved her characters - my favorites were Joan and Charlotte but all of the characters added to the story line. Joan and her two daughters were definitely quirky and that made the novel even more interesting and in parts very funny. When Whit Whitman died, he left his estate to his two sons but made provisions for his wife Joan to live in the family home until her death. Charlotte, one of her daughters, live This is my first book by Ann Leary and after reading it, I plan to read her older books. I loved her characters - my favorites were Joan and Charlotte but all of the characters added to the story line. Joan and her two daughters were definitely quirky and that made the novel even more interesting and in parts very funny. When Whit Whitman died, he left his estate to his two sons but made provisions for his wife Joan to live in the family home until her death. Charlotte, one of her daughters, lives with her and rarely leaves the house. Her other daughter also lives there much of the time. What at first appears to be a loving blended family with the two sons of Whit and the two daughters of Joan, begins to show cracks when Spin brings home his fiancee. Add in a caretaker who is having an affair with Charlotte and a thief in the neighborhood who breaks into houses to clean them and you have all the elements needed for a great read that you don't want to put down until the last page is read. Great story! (Thanks to Book Browse for a copy of this book for a fair and honest review.)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Fish

    Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang. THAT WAS AWESOME. My friend, Virginia, reviewed this book and I was expecting a light summer romp, but this, this was a fine piece of writing. I love Ann Leary's characters, I love the way she builds the story, and she never drops the ball and leaves you confused at the end. Fantastic. This is the book to read this summer. I don't even know what the hell to do with myself now--good luck following up THAT! HA!

  30. 4 out of 5

    JoAnn

    Keeping the fun in dysfunctional! I do love a good family drama... throw in a lake house, a trust fund, secrets and deception, and you've got a winner. Plus, it's written by a trusted author.

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