"Penelope Cameron, loving mother, devoted wife and generous philanthropist, has convinced her husband and four closest friends to sign an outlandish pact. If Penelope should die before her two daughters are eighteen, her husband will not remarry without the permission of Penelope's sister and three college roommates. For years, this contract gathers dust until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly, everyone she loved must find their way in a world without Penelope.
For Lucy Vargas, Penelope's best friend, and a second mother to her daughters, nothing seems more natural than to welcome them into a home that had once belonged to their family, a lovely, sprawling bed-and-breakfast on the beach. This bequest was only one of the many ways in which Penelope had supported Lucy's career as a painter, declaring her talent too important to squander. But now, in the wake of a disaster that only lovable, worrisome Penelope could have predicted, Lucy has put her work on hold as she and Penelope's husband, Joey, blindly grasp at anything that will keep the girls from sinking under the weight of their grief.
With the help of family and friends, the children slowly build new lives. But just when things start to come together, the fragile serenity they have gained is suddenly threatened from within, and the unbreakable bonds they share seem likely to dissolve after all."
I had expected to enjoy this book- the premise was interesting and I thought the book would be a fun read. Unfortunately, any fun was sucked out by the overly-complicated and ridiculous plot, and the completely unsympathetic cast of characters. At one point I thought the book might drift far enough into absurdity to become a farce, but it never quite hit the satirical note required to pump it up to that level. The only people in the book that evoked any emotional response other than irritation were the two poor daughters and their dog. Heck, even the evil British cousins were more enjoyable than the main characters; all they were missing was a maniacal laugh to make them the perfect soap-opera villans.
All in all, a disappointing read. 2 stars because of the kids and the way they were portrayed- though the adults around them behaved like idiots, their pain as they dealt with the loss of their mother was the most honest, meaningful, and successful part of this novel.