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A Very Inconvenient Scandal


A Very Inconvenient Scandal

When her recently widowed father, Mack, sends her a curt message urging her to come to the family home on Cape Cod, Frankie Attleboro naturally fears the worst. Having just lost her mother a little over a year before, she is convinced that something terrible has happened to another family member --- Mack himself, or her brother Penn, or maybe her lifelong best friend Ariel, who is so close she almost feels like family.

And indeed, something very upsetting has happened, but it’s nothing Frankie could have imagined in her wildest dreams. Arriving after dark at the family home, she bursts into her father’s bedroom --- only to find him asleep next to a very pregnant Ariel. The 27-year-old is not only Frankie’s oldest friend and quasi-sister, she’s also an employee at the internationally renowned conservation institute of which Mack is the head. Now she’s about to marry him and have his baby.

"Mitchard’s many fans will flock to A VERY INCONVENIENT SCANDAL for its intricate family dynamics and memorable protagonist."

What Frankie hasn’t told anyone other than her fiancé, Gil, is that she’s also pregnant, though in her case she’s just starting to show. They have purchased a little cottage nearby, a charming spot that Frankie has admired since she was a child. But her one-time cozy daydreams of raising her child in the bosom of her family have evaporated in an instant. How could she imagine returning to…this?

Frankie isn’t the only one coming back to Cape Cod. One of the reasons Ariel and Frankie became so close as teens is that Ariel’s mother, Carlotta, was so unstable and, eventually, absent. In her relationship with the Attleboros, especially with Frankie and Mack’s late wife, Beatrice, Ariel found the stability that her own home life lacked. It has been years since Carlotta has been a part of Ariel’s life, but she turns up again just as her daughter is about to start this new chapter of her life. What does Carlotta want? Why is she returning now, and what secrets is she hiding?

As you can probably tell, Jacquelyn Mitchard’s A VERY INCONVENIENT SCANDAL is a dense family drama, with multiple narrative strands to follow. Particularly once Carlotta arrives on the scene, and once Frankie establishes a tentative friendship with a one-time nemesis, elements of the past naturally begin to surface as well, adding an extra layer of mystery to the plot.

Mitchard suffuses her book with the sights and sounds of Cape Cod and, even more evocatively, with the realms of nature and art, which come together in Frankie’s photography. Frankie is a talented nature photographer whose work has taken her all over the world. Mitchard effectively describes the way she looks at the world as she embarks on new artistic projects --- including writing a memoir --- while struggling with the notion of where to make a home for herself and her new family.

Although some of the mystery/thriller elements that lurk around the perimeter of the novel feel somewhat forced and not particularly well integrated, Mitchard’s many fans will flock to A VERY INCONVENIENT SCANDAL for its intricate family dynamics and memorable protagonist.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on November 17, 2023

A Very Inconvenient Scandal
by Jacquelyn Mitchard

  • Publication Date: November 14, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778369374
  • ISBN-13: 9780778369370