Shortlisted for Canada's prestigious Giller Prize, this "profoundly humane novel" (Vancouver Sun), wrings suspense and humor out of the everyday choices we make, revealing the delicate balance between sacrifice and self-interest, doing good and being good.
Clara Purdy is at a crossroads. At forty-three, she is divorced, living in her late parents' house, and near-ing her twentieth year as a claims adjuster at a local insurance firm. Driving to the bank during her lunch hour, she crashes into a sharp left turn, taking the Gage family in the other car with her. When bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer, Clara decides to do the right thing. She moves Lorraine's three children and their terrible grandmother into her own house—and then has to cope with the consequences of practical goodness: exhaustion, fury, hilarity, and unexpected love.
What, exactly, does it mean to be good? What do we owe each other in this life, and what do we deserve? Good to a Fault is an ultimately joyful book that digs deep, with leavening humor, into questions of morality, class, and social responsibility. Marina Endicott looks at life and death through the compassionate, humane lens of a born novelist: being good, being at fault, and finding some balance in between.
From Publishers Weekly - Canadian writer Endicott's second novel (and stateside debut) is an enjoyable and affirming meditation on altruism, goodness, and loneliness. The quiet, circumscribed world of divorcée Clara Purdy gets shaken up when she gets in a car accident with the Gage family, who are homeless and have been living in their car. In the aftermath, the mother, Lorraine Gage, is diagnosed with cancer, and Clara takes the family into her home while Lorraine undergoes treatment. The father absconds almost immediately, and Lorraine's mother, Mrs. Pell, proves to be deeply unpleasant. Clara, however, continues to visit Lorraine in the hospital, tend to the three children, and eventually takes in Lorraine's alcoholic brother as well. Her willingness to go to such lengths for strangers is a perpetual curiosity to those around her, and just as the Gage family solidifies around her and she begins a new relationship, Lorraine's health takes a surprising turn and Clara must decide again, what is the right thing to do. Endicott's rich writing struggles to find its groove at first, but the balance of prose, plot, and purpose soon evens out into a touching story. (Apr.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Booklist *Starred Review* - If she’d only driven straight ahead, Clara Purdy wouldn’t have been thrown for such a curve. When her car plows into that of the Gage family—father, mother, three children, and cranky grandmother—Clara ends up exchanging more than just routine insurance information. Though no one is seriously injured, Lorraine Gage requires hospitalization, and tests reveal she suffers from an advanced stage of cancer. Homeless and nearly destitute, the remaining Gages are welcomed into guilt-ridden Clara’s home. Long divorced, stuck in a lackluster job, Clara and her world could use a little shaking up, but caring for the Gages gives her more than she bargained for. As she grows to love the three kids and tolerate the grandmother (dad flies the coop), Clara begins contemplating the “what if” of Lorraine’s uncertain future and finds she welcomes the role of instant motherhood. Probing the moral and emotional minefield of heroic Samaritan acts, Endicott’s enchanting and poignant novel of compassion run amok handles provocative issues with a deft and winsome touch. --Carol Haggas