The author's mother sounds amazing...
This is a very easy-to-read, well-paced story, with the four main characters, a mother and her three grown-up children, given their own chapters within each destination on the 'trip of a lifetime' cruise. Flashbacks of memories within their narratives try to explain how and why they've become the dysfunctional adults they are now.
I have to admit, I have never seen the appeal of a cruise holiday but there was a comment that struck me about the different and often thrilling aspect of approaching a town or city from the water that did make me think again - although the descriptions of the many, many, many people all stuck together in a floating 'fun palace', the touristy excursions lacking in reality and the sad, shabbiness of the
night-time entertainment rooms when seen in the cold light of day did little to persuade me more.
I agree with others about this novel, the characters are hard to like and the epilogue is a wasted opportunity for some sort of closure or satisfaction for the reader. I'm all for not going down the well-worn, everything works out in the end path, however, in this case, a few more crumbs of comforting happiness would have been appreciated.
That said, I did admire the author for her depiction of Charlotte, the matriarch, and the effect her behaviour had had on her offspring. It was heart-breakingly real at times, so frustrating you wanted to shake her, but she remained true to her unemotional and fake, picture-perfect upbringing until almost the very end. And that is why a decent epilogue would have been a great opportunity to reveal her in her 'second wind', letting loose and enjoying what time she had left.
Yes, she tasted the last doughnut but it wasn't really enough after all we'd been through with her!