In the present day, Nora is writing a memoir for her three triplet daughters to tell them about their lives. She begins explaining how she got pregnant after a one-night stand just before she met the love of her live.
The novel begins in Minneapolis, where Nora’s mother Patty Jane is closing down her “salon within a salon,” that is, a hair salon where she schedules cultural activities. But soon enough, Nora gets an offer to buy a stunning lake house from an eccentric older woman.
This novel is crammed with eccentric characters, and that is one of its problems. It has so many eccentric characters, what with complicated familial relationships, Patty Jane’s former customers, and various friends, I couldn’t keep them straight because we learn very little about them. Instead of building fully realized characters, Landvik simply throws out a few details about each one or briefly shifts the focus to one and then shifts it back. I see that this novel is a sequel or closely related to Landvik’s previous novel, so perhaps she is relying on people’s knowledge of the previous novel to know who these people are. But I hadn’t read it, and some of the characters are new. Since the novel is supposed to be written by Nora, the shifting point of view is a problem. Why would we suddenly get several paragraphs from, for example, Henry’s point of view (Henry being Nora’s mother’s lover’s son)?
Another problem is the plot, at first relatively easy to follow even though broken up by many unsignaled time shifts. But after Nora has her triplets, the story seems to lose focus and we just get anecdotes as the girls age. In fact, there are really no ups and downs or climaxes, except ones we can predict.
When you combine all this with an unrelieved feel-good quality, you’ve probably guess that it isn’t my style. I can actually get into a novel full of eccentric but nice characters and can think of many that I’ve loved. But they have to be well executed and funny. This one isn’t.