Date: September 27th 2016
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
After the scandal of her husband's Ponzi scheme breaks, main character Emma Shay decides to return home to California to try and rebuild her life<
Shunned by everyone who knows her and with little family to speak of, her ex-best friend is the only person willing to give her a job—cleaning houses. Emma, who not long ago employed a full housekeeping staff in her Manhattan penthouse, is now doing the cleaning and trying to clean up her own messes at the same time.
As she navigates the mistakes of her past and tries to find redemption in a new relationship, Emma realizes that it's up to her to create the life she wants.
Question and Answers with Robyn Carr
Q: The book opens with Emma Shay moving back home to California from New York after her financier husband is revealed to be running a massive Ponzi scheme and commits suicide. How much was the premise of this book inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal, and what kind of research did writing this story involve?
A: I asked myself, what would it be like to be Mrs. Madoff? So of course I had to read about it – it turned out to be much more sordid and shameful in Bernie’s case than anything I had imagined. I wanted to create a character who was every bit as victimized as her late husband’s clients and that character was Emma. But the story was more about a relationship between two thirty-five year old women whose friendship fell apart when they were young. The question is – how does Emma repair all the damage she suffered when she married a crook?
Q: On the surface, it seems like Emma Shay had the life that a lot of people would want—a rich husband, a beautiful home, expensive clothes, a full household staff. But we soon learn that her life was not the fairytale it appeared to be. What made you want to explore the darker side of that kind of monetary and material wealth, and what do you think it actually means to have a “rich life?”
A: Money can be fun but it’s a tool, nothing more. There are so many wise sayings that apply – “It is a wealthy man who knows he has enough.” Or one of my favorites, “If you marry for money you’ll earn every dime.” Why? Because money is a convenient tool but the love of money is soulless. When Emma is finally free of the burdens and complications of wealth, when she earns her money and simplifies her life she feels richer.
I think one has a rich life when one has people who love her, friends and hopefully family, or at least the family one collects, when one has health and a positive outlook on life. Some of the happiest people I’ve known didn’t have much material wealth. Real wealth comes from knowing who you can depend on, who you can trust, who will be there for you when you need someone – maybe just to talk.
I know that billionaire romances are very popular but I’ve never been enamored of them. I find the problems of the incredibly rich to be boring and lifeless. There’s joy in challenge and I take pride in hard work. In a job well done. People are not important to me if they’ve amassed wealth – they’re valuable to me if they’ve collected wisdom. Professor Cornel West said he didn’t necessarily admire intelligence – Hitler was brilliant after all. He admired wisdom.
Q: The damaged friendship between Emma and Riley is one of the central relationships in this novel. After having written so many successful romantic love stories, what was different or challenging about building your story around a fraught, deeply complicated female friendship?
A: I’m accustomed to writing “girlfriend books” that, from the beginning, have a very strong bond between the women, that the friends get each other through the tough times. I wanted to know how it’s different when the bond has been broken but the tough times are present.
You’ll find out what you’re made of when you go through a relationship crisis, when you feel scared and alone.
Q: Another interesting relationship in the book is the one between Emma and Bethany, a teenage girl who lives in one of the houses she cleans. What made you want to explore that storyline?
A: I think that on some level the people who clean houses do more than come into our homes, they come into our lives and see much more than we realize. They enter our private lives, our most personal space. They see how we live and what our values are. In the case of Bethany, she appeared to be unloved and tragic and had no support and Emma, who had looked the other way when her husband was robbing his clients blind, could not look away from Bethany. It showed the character of both Emma and Bethany and it was a turning point in Emma’s life.
Q: We have to ask, what’s next for you? What are you working on right now?
A: I’m at work on the second Sullivan’s Crossing novel, no title yet. It should be ready soon and out the beginning of April 2017.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Emma, money lost and having to start over, with everyone (well almost everyone) looking at her suspiciously and some hating upon her in foul ways. Her husband had unbeknown to her a ponzi scheme going and so many people lost their money.
When Emma returns home she finds it difficult to get a job because of all that has gone on. However one family and a few friends support her through the worst. So there you have it, good friendship and loving family. No wait! Its not Emma's family, they're as despicable as dirt, and her best friend and herself from way back have been in a huge "no speaking" situation for about fifteen years.
I am sure from time to time we all dream of wealth, what we'd do if we won that big lotto prize, but is wealth what makes us happy? That's the question Robyn Carr explores in this book, and the shows us what she thinks might make us happy, and I tend to agree with her. Yikes I watched one reality "The Real Housewives of...." and was totally put off, no I don't want to live my life like that. I want good friends, family and some challenges to keep me interested in life.
Emma is strong, hard working and very compassionate and now in her mid thirties, is able to make decisions about what she thinks is right or wrong. Riley her estranged friend is rather similar, although she has a few hard edges to her that just need to be filed a tad, and they are.
If you love a good second chance book with strong yet flawed characters then this just might be for you.