Table For Five by Susan Wiggs
Rating: A (5/5 Excellent for its genre)
Top Ten 2005
Lily Robinson is not only the godmother of the Hollway children; she's also their teacher. So when Lily calls in the divorced parents, Crystal (her best friend) and Derek, for a conference, and the two of them are killed on the way home, Lily's grief is exponentially worse because of her guilt. Sean Maguire, Derek's half-brother, is an ex-pro golfer ready for a comeback. Crystal never got around to formalizing her request that Lily take the children in case anything happened to her, and Sean is named as their guardian in the will. But Lily refuses to walk away from her godchildren, so Lily and Sean force themselves to cooperate with each other, an exercise that begins to lead to a grudging respect. Wiggs explores many aspects of grief, from guilt to anger to regret, imbuing her book with the classic would've/could've/should've emotions, and presenting realistic and sympathetic characters. Never maudlin, Wiggs writes with an even hand, thus adding another excellent title to her already-outstanding body of work.
Not great literature, but definitely entertaining fluff. Poignant fluff, at that. Table For Five grabbed my attention right away and kept calling to me when I was busy with other things. As is the case with most "beach reads," the story is unavoidably predictable, yet comforting with a satisfying ending. The first third was very difficult to read, bringing my grief for Rachel right back to the surface (where apparently it lurks every day). Many key phrases reflected my own thoughts, but I kept reading, ignoring the lump in my throat. The book read a bit like a made-for-tv movie and I found myself picturing