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The Life She Wants


The Life She Wants

In THE LIFE SHE WANTS, Robyn Carr paints an emotional, engaging portrait of two former best friends and their wildly different life paths. With her signature talent for character development and passion for women’s stories, Carr pens a truly heartwarming novel that will make readers consider their biggest regrets.

As children, Emma and Riley were nearly inseparable. The girls acted like sisters and were always joined at the hip. Although their home lives differed greatly --- Emma’s family was wealthy but loveless, while Riley’s household was less financially secure, but far more welcoming and loving --- the girls were kindred spirits. In their late teens, however, Emma’s acceptance into college and the emotional distance it created between the girls caused Riley to make a terrible mistake that ended their friendship forever. In THE LIFE SHE WANTS, we meet these girls as women to see the ways their lives compare and contrast and how the past continues to affect each of them.

"With her signature talent for character development and passion for women’s stories, Carr pens a truly heartwarming novel that will make readers consider their biggest regrets."

On the surface, it seems as though Emma Shay Compton has it all: a rich, powerful husband, a beautiful home in New York, and the funds to do whatever she wants, when she wants. But when Emma’s financier husband is accused of a Bernie Madoff-like scheme to steal money from his clients, her world of wealth, glamour and powerful Manhattanites comes crashing down around her. Before he can formally be convicted, her husband kills himself, leaving poor Emma to pick up the pieces --- and provide his victims with a perfect scapegoat. Despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, her reputation is ruined and her life is forever changed, so she escapes to Sonoma County, a place she once considered home. Although she has not visited since the demise of her friendship with Riley, Emma knows that she will feel safe there and hopefully will be able to clear her head to work through her guilt, loss and grief.

On the west coast, meanwhile, Riley Kerrigan is actually flourishing, though she has never forgotten her guilt over her friendship with Emma. Still, despite her meager upbringing, she has evolved into a powerful woman with her own company, fabulous employees and a teenage daughter who adores her. Of course, her no-nonsense attitude has cost her a love life, but given her past, she sees that as no big deal, choosing instead to focus on her business and family.

When Riley learns that Emma is back in town, she vows never to speak to her, believing that Emma’s inability to forgive is just as bad as her own transgression. Still, she has seen the devastating news reports about Emma’s misfortune, and it is easy to see that she feels sorry for Emma. Soon, her family convinces her to reconsider, and, in an attempt at penance, she gives Emma a job, setting the scene for their reconciliation. Of course, there are numerous obstacles in the way, including each woman’s stubbornness and own perceptions of the role they played in their breakup --- and a few dashing men --- but Carr’s writing is perceptive and smart, and readers will enjoy the ride immensely.

It would be easy for any author to write Emma and Riley’s complicated friendship as something tawdry and gossip-filled, but Carr does not stoop to such tropes. She is careful to present unbiased views of each woman, while still giving the full story of their flaws and mistakes. Although I won’t reveal Riley’s mistake here, it is one that I feel many women will relate to and be able to understand, even if they cannot forgive her. While I took to Emma immediately, I feel there are many readers who will prefer Riley, and that will make this book wonderful for book groups and discussions. Most appealing, though, is the fact that THE LIFE SHE WANTS is completely focused on and driven by its female leads, even though there are great romances occurring in the background. I absolutely adored Emma’s suitor, but it was Emma and Riley who kept me turning pages.

Additionally, Carr provides even-handed, thoughtful commentary on the media and its willingness to vilify women connected to villainous men. Her ability to tackle such a convoluted topic while presenting a light, easy read of friendship and betrayal is truly refreshing. Perfect for women of all ages, THE LIFE SHE WANTS presents a thoughtful look at female friendships while guiding women through the ins and outs of one very special bond.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on September 30, 2016

The Life She Wants
by Robyn Carr

  • Publication Date: September 27, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778319679
  • ISBN-13: 9780778319672