Summary (from the publisher):
The only thing reclusive bookworm Nora, high-powered attorney Christina, and supermom-in-training Leanne ever had in common was their best friend, Molly. When Molly dies, she leaves mysterious gifts and cryptic notes for each of her grieving best friends, along with one final request: that these three mismatched frenemies have brunch together every month for a year.
Filled with heartwrenching scenes and witty prose, Brunch and Other Obligations explores the intricate dynamics of girlhood acquaintances who are forced to reconnect as women. This upbeat novel reminds readers that there’s hope for getting through the hard times in life―with a lot of patience, humor, and a standing brunch date.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Books about female friendship always peak my interest, including Suzanne Nugent’s debut novel, Brunch and Other Obligations. Its synopsis reminded me of the fifth book in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Sisterhood Everlasting, although Brunch and Other Obligations takes on a comedic tone. This women’s fiction read follows the lives of three friends – or should I say, forced-to-be friends – after the death of their best friend, Molly. Molly leaves Nora, Christina, and Leanne each with mysterious gifts and one thing to be shared amongst the three of them: monthly brunches for an entire year. Christina, Nora, and Leanne have always been forced to be acquaintances since Molly was their best friend, but they begin to discover that they actually may be able to revitalize their friendship. Even if it takes a lot of coffee to do so.
I breezed through Brunch and Other Obligations. The chapters are on the shorter side, and the writing style is really easy to just fall into. I really think the book would also make for a great one-sitting read because Suzanne Nugent creates a cast of characters that you grow to root for with each chapter.
The story is mainly told from the third person perspective of the three friends. An element I really loved about Suzanne Nugent’s writing style is that we get a peek into the inner thoughts of all the characters involved. Like the book itself, this made for both many funny moments and emotion-filled ones. The chapter on Maeve and Christina thinking about Lilly was especially a tearjerker. Between the flashbacks featuring Molly and the girls’ conversations about her, I felt like we got to understand Molly as character and her role in the overall story. The premise of Brunch and Other Obligations is sad and there were definitely some emotional moments. The first time Christina really lets herself grieve over Molly’s death was when I lost it. On a brighter side, the novel does have some really funny dialogue. My favorite moments tended to come from Christina – I loved her greeting to someone in a big scene near the end of the book – , but Nora had some great one-liners.
My favorite character was Christina. I loved her sarcastic and hard nature, but on the inside, she’s grieving over the death of her best friend, doing her best as a high-power attorney, and taking care of her mother who has Alzheimer’s. As I kept reading, I really grew to enjoy all three main characters, as Nora and Leanne too begin to try new things. I liked Leanne’s friendship with her co-worker, Katherine, but their French conversations often annoyed me because there weren’t any translations. I think the comparisons to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine particularly inspired by Nora. Nora is very socially awkward and prefers to fill up journals with dialogue than talk to people. I really enjoyed her relationship with Sam (and of course Fred), although I wish it were a tad more developed and we got to see them take off.
Overall, I recommend Brunch and Other Obligations for readers who are looking for a book about friendship and personal growth. There are plenty of other elements in between, but this is a really heart-warming and at times at heart-breaking story about a group of old friends coming together to reconnect amidst difficult times and changes -and laughing while doing so.
Brunch and Other Obligations comes out on May 5, 2020.
This review is based on an advance reader copy. By no means did this affect my thoughts & opinions.
Is Brunch and Other Obligations on your TBR? Do you have any brunch traditions with your best friends? Share in the comments!