About the Book:
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.
The audiobook of ‘Good Company’ lived up to all the accolades I had heard about Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. This story about best friends, marriage, family and secrets was right up my alley. I loved it!
The books follows a group of friends and is told in flashbacks. To the author’s credit, she sets up the novel’s main conflict early on: Flora discovers her husband Julian’s wedding band hidden away in a drawer, years after he claimed to have lost it. We first meet Flora, a successful voiceover actress and Julian, also an actor, the day of their daughter Ruby’s graduation party, hosted by Flora’s best friend Margot. Margot has always been like a surrogate parent to Ruby, and is everything Flora is not. Margot is a glamorous and well-known television actress who is married to David, a surgeon.
Margot is now the star of a Grey’s Anatomy-like show and the author has a very sly way of describing the often cut-throat world of celebrity. Margot is always looking over her shoulder for the younger, prettier actress who might take her place. Against this background, the story of how Flora an Julian and Margot and David met is told in flashback form. Julian was always tentative about marrying Flora, so how will he explain the wedding band? As he told her early on in their relationship, “I don’t know why I’m so ambivalent about you.”
From the shocking discovery of the wedding ring, the book details the history of the characters, all coming back to the present day of Ruby’s party. The novel explores how Flora and Julian met and then dated, all set against the backdrop of the acting world. Margot had invited Flora all those years before to a party with other struggling young actors, and Flora and Julian met and were instantly taken with each other. But while Margot meets David and they then marry, Flora and Julian didn’t seem to move forward in their relationship. Several breakups later, Julian proposes.
“I learned my lesson. There’s nobody else for me, Flora.”
“It’s the one thing I won’t ever forgive,” she told him. “I know,” he said.
Julian had started out as a playwright in New York City which is where they all first met. Flora and Julian struggled at first but then moved to Los Angeles and found some success. I absolutely loved the description of theatre life and of the colorful and almost magical way in which the author describes the life of a working actor. Fast forward to the present and Flora and Julia now must deal with the often superficial world of Hollywood and with raising their daughter in that rarefied environment.
The discussion of celebrity culture and the intricately detailed backstories of the main characters was fascinating and I was completely immersed in this book. Marin Ireland is one of my favorite audiobook narrators and was fantastic at giving life to all the characters in a very believable way.
The exploration of friendship and loyalty is wonderful. How Flora deals with the discovery of Julian’s wedding ring all unfolds as they all are dealing with Ruby leaving for college. This is a wonderfully-paced novel about adult relationships and the baggage we all carry. No one is perfect in this story and there is no neat, “Hollywood” ending. I found this book to be incredibly relatable and engaging. Highly recommend!
(Thank you to the publisher for providing an advanced listening copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)