Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

best-intentionsBest Intentions: A Novel by Emily Listfield (Atria, May 5, 2009), 352 pages

I’m told this is part women’s fiction and part mystery. I’ve never read women’s fiction, but Best Intentions felt light on the mystery.

Best Intentions follows Lisa, her husband Sam, her best friend Dierdre and their mutual friend from college, Jack, through a brief window of life in Manhattan. All four of them went to college together. Lisa works at an PR firm, Sam’s a journalist, Dierdre owns her own fashion boutique, and Jack (who lives in Boston) is a lawyer. All four are nearing their fortieth birthday, and between reminiscing about how life used to be, inside they’re still trying to figure out how to be adults, who they really are, individually.

As I read, I was anxious; is everything really going to be as bad as the book seems to point toward? But then, this is much the same feeling the main character, Lisa, is feeling throughout much of the book — she’s anxious, paralyzed by fear and dread. Lisa is plagued by self-doubt and fear. She’s stressed about the cost of sending her two daughters to private school (not to mention parenting in general), the current tenuous nature of both her job and her husband’s job, and Dierdre’s lack of commitment skills. She feels like an impostor living in New York City, she never knows what to wear or how to act. Oh, and did I mention? Lisa is also doubting the solidity of her marriage.

Listfield instills this woman about to turn 40 with all the angst and self-doubt of a coming-of-age tale.

Yes, I could relate to Lisa, but I was also impatient toward her. Claire, in The Only True Genius in the Family, was also consumed by doubt, but I didn’t get frustrated with her like I did with Lisa.

The frequent philosophizing paragraphs in Best Intentions pulled me out of the story and had me shaking my head in disagreement, as well.

While I didn’t greatly enjoy the reading of this book, I was much more satisfied after I’d finished it. Now, almost a week after completing it, I like it better than I did while reading it.

You can learn more about the mystery at

Listfield has written several novels, including Waiting to Surface (2008 ). Listfield’s Brunch Babble blog and website.

Other reviews:
S. Krishna’s Books
Book Escape
She Is Too Fond of Books

My giveaway of Enduring Justice ends today!


9 responses to “Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

  1. I know exactly what you mean – I’ve felt the same way about some books.

  2. This one is on my stack so I’m interested to see what I think. I do read more of what I guess is called women’s fiction than you seem to read. I’m not sure exactly where chick lit ends and women’s fiction begins. Is it an age? Is it a level of literary achievement? Or is it just another way to categorize chick lit for those who normally are turned off at the thought? Anyway, I digress. I was interested in this book because of the mystery twist – a murder mystery at that. Thanks for your opinions on this novel. It’s not a bad thing when you happier with a reading experience after you finished it (except when you’re reading it, of course – LOL!)

  3. I think I look back on some books and like them better after wards. I’m not really sure why. Maybe it needs to stew a bit.

  4. Yeah…I have read books that after a bit of time have liked them far better.
    This book is on my TBR list, wonder how I will like it…
    Thanks for your review.

  5. Pingback: Words from my reading « Word Lily

  6. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: May 16, 2009 at Semicolon

  7. Pingback: The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow « Word Lily

  8. Pingback: Books, sources, integrity « Word Lily

  9. Pingback: Genre-ing: Risk and reward « Word Lily

Leave a Reply to Natasha @ Maw Books Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s