Cover image for Honestly, we meant well : a novel
Title:
Honestly, we meant well : a novel
ISBN:
9781250143150
Edition:
1st U.S. ed.
Physical Description:
308 pages ; 25 cm.
Geographic Term:
Summary:
The Wright family is in ruins. Sue Ellen Wright has what she thinks is a close-to-perfect life. A terrific career as a Classics professor, a loving husband, and a son who is just about to safely leave the nest. But then disaster strikes. She learns that her husband is cheating, and that her son has made a complete mess of his life. So, when the opportunity to take her family to a Greek island for a month presents itself, she jumps at the chance. This sunlit Aegean paradise, with its mountains and beaches is, after all, where she first fell in love with both a man and with an ancient culture. Perhaps Sue Ellen's past will provide the key to her and her family's salvation. With his signature style of biting wit, hilarious characters, and deep emotion, Grant Ginder's Honestly, We Meant Well is a funny, brilliant novel proving that with family, drama always comes with comedy. --
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Summary

Summary

"This rollicking book has it all: sex, lies, and scenery. Grant Ginder weaves a wonderful, engrossing multi-generational family story, with the Greek isles as a backdrop so beautiful that the reader will want to dive in."
-- Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of The Vacationers and Modern Lovers

An Entertainment Weekly Must Read

Named Best Book of the Summer by : The New York Post - Newsweek - Bloomberg Business Week - Southern Living - Pop Sugar - Parade - The Betches

An irresistible, deftly observed novel about family, regret, and vacation by the author of The People We Hate at the Wedding

Family vacation always comes with baggage.

The Wright family is in ruins. Sue Ellen Wright has what she thinks is a close-to-perfect life. A terrific career as a Classics professor, a loving husband, and a son who is just about to safely leave the nest.

But then disaster strikes. She learns that her husband is cheating, and that her son has made a complete mess of his life. So, when the opportunity to take her family to a Greek island for a month presents itself, she jumps at the chance. This sunlit Aegean paradise, with its mountains and beaches is, after all, where she first fell in love with both a man and with an ancient culture. Perhaps Sue Ellen's past will provide the key to her and her family's salvation.

With his signature style of biting wit, hilarious characters, and deep emotion, Grant Ginder's Honestly, We Meant Well is a funny, brilliant novel proving that with family, drama always comes with comedy.


Author Notes

Grant Ginder is the author of The People We Hate at the Wedding . He received his MFA from NYU, where he teaches writing. He lives in Brooklyn.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ginder's charming fourth novel (after The People We Hate at the Wedding) chronicles a trip that classics professor Sue Ellen Wright takes with her family to Greece, where they stay at a hotel run by Eleni Papadakis, the daughter of Sue Ellen's former lover. Sue Ellen catches her husband, Dean, a famous writer, having an affair with a producer. In an effort to try to move forward together as a family, Dean proposes that he and their son, Will, accompany Sue Ellen on a gig to lecture to a group of cruise-goers at their stop in Aegina. Will's about to graduate college and is feeling both aimless and overshadowed by his dad. He plagiarizes one of Dean's unpublished pieces and later panics when he learns from his classmate Ginny that it's going to be featured in the school's lit journal. Ginny is pregnant and plans to confront Dean, who left her a month ago. Sue Ellen bonds with Eleni and reveals how she loved Eleni's father, Christos, years ago. Eleni, meanwhile, is still smarting from Christos's death and can't wait to sell the hotel to Swiss developers. Matters come to a head when Ginny locates Dean, Eleni has second thoughts about the sale, and Will learns something shocking from Dean's latest book. Ginder's writing is funny and evocative; it skillfully touches on the passage of time in a family and in a marriage while effortlessly shifting points of view. Fans of clever, wistful stories will find much to love, and also appreciate the bonus classics tidbits. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A trip to Greece with a family on the rocks.Ginder (The People We Hate at the Wedding, 2017, etc.) is back with a speedy follow-up to his last wickedly funny concoction, again sending his characters abroad. Meet the Wright family of Berkeley, California: Husband Dean is a beloved American novelist with a cushy academic job at UC Berkeley; wife Sue Ellen teaches classics; their gay son, Will, 23, is unhappily failing to follow in his father's footsteps, struggling through his college fiction workshops. All are coping with the fallout of Dean's recent adultery (the one they know about, anyway). When Sue Ellen is asked to give a lecture to a tour group on the Greek island of Aegina, where she did her doctoral research, she jumps at the chance for a break. Aegina represents a poignant road not taken in her life, and even though her old flame has since died (too bad, he could have really kicked things up a notch), she is eager to return. But what's this? Dean and Will insist on coming with her. Combining farcical elements with more earnest plotlines, the novel never quite achieves liftoff. Ginder is at his best when he's over the topa Swedish bottled beverage tastes like "compost, mixed with gull shit and spoiled chocolate milk"; Sue Ellen's lecture, as best her husband can peg it, involves "geriatrics gathering with their walkers at the temple's steps, and Sue Ellen speaking as the sun dipped into the Aegean, and her stopping just in time for everyone to have a glass of cheap chardonnay before Zeus, or Poseidon, or Shiva, or whoever ripped a tear in the space-time continuum and carried them all away to that plush, easily navigable retirement home in the sky." Along with the romantic subplotswhich are sadthere are not one but two cases of literary plagiarism in the novel. It must be contagious; it's turning up everywhere.Reliably entertaining and intelligent, Ginder is an excellent tour guide for both the sunny Greek islands and the darker channels of the human heart. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Sue Ellen Wright is an accomplished classics professor with a beautiful Berkeley home, a devoted husband, and a son who's just about to strike out on his own. But then she discovers that her husband has had an affair and her son has been making some very bad life decisions. She seizes an opportunity to spend a month in Greece, hoping some time away will soothe her soul, help her reconnect with her husband, and give her son a much-needed change in perspective. And the beautiful Greek islands do work their magic on the Wright family just not necessarily in the way that any of them expected. Ginder (The People We Hate at the Wedding, 2017) once again delivers a family saga populated with smart, funny, confused, and lovable yet profoundly irritating characters who desperately try to pull themselves together while simultaneously tearing each other apart. He examines the complexities of family with insight and humor in this deeply satisfying, laugh-out-loud novel.--Carol Gladstein Copyright 2019 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Sue Ellen Wright, a classics professor, learns that her husband, Dean, is having an affair, while her underachieving son, Will, is making a mess of his life. A chance to visit Greece gives the family an opportunity to reconnect, but the vacation has the opposite effect. Sue Ellen's past connection with the beautiful Aegean locale, and a nearby hotel, which has seen better days, brings about a sudden epiphany, causing her to reflect upon her past and ponder the future. Ginder (This Is How It Starts) completely redefines family dysfunction in this offbeat comedy of errors. Amid gorgeous Greek scenery, the Wright family, set on a collision path of destruction, have come to a miserable but hilariously inevitable fork in the road. As Will and Dean's sins come home to roost, Sue Ellen contemplates her unfulfilling career and marriage. A few challenging opportunities are available to her, but only if she has the courage to grab them. VERDICT Whimsical, diabolical, and distinctive, this novel is an awkwardly funny but entertaining family tale.-Julie Whiteley, Stephenville, TX © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.