The Goddesses

"We came here to escape." From the outside, it might look like a dream: moving the family to Hawaii, career advancement, surf and sand for the kids. Nancy and Chuck and their teenage twin sons, Cam and Jed, set up house in Kona. The boys are "stoked" at the opportunity, but Nancy isn't. She is furious that Chuck cheated on her back in San Diego, and exasperated with her boring, predictable self. She hopes that Hawaii will be a new beginning. She switches things around, starts eating healthier and goes to morning yoga classes on the beach, and that's where she meets Ana.

Anae helps Nancy trade in her minivan for a BMW convertible. They spend their days lolling in Ana's Jacuzzi, at her little pink house on the beach. Nancy starts to stay out some evenings, leaving her husband and sons to prepare their own dinners, because her new friend needs her. A warning tone, though, creeps into Nancy's narrative voice: she is a bit too easily taken in, Ana a bit too needy.

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley (We Could Be Beautiful) is a novel of lush green foliage, brightly colored hibiscus, new beginnings and old mistakes: hope and betrayal twined together. Huntley's prose is clipped, declarative: "Our cars arrived. We'd had them shipped." Her characters are adequately developed, her setting evocative, but it is the stealthily twisting plot that makes this novel sparkle. She offers an earnest, likable protagonist in Nancy, then plunges her into psychological challenges she never saw coming. Even in paradise, beautiful exteriors are not necessarily to be trusted. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

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