Book Review With Bookworm With A View: Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

Good to a Fault by Marina EndicottThis book was one of three books that I won in a giveaway by Windmill Books. They did an author chat event on Twitter with author Jonathan Lee (of Who Is Mr Satoshi?) and I was declared the winner of a set of books. Even better, I was allowed to choose from their entire catalogue!

I found out that Mari of Bookworm With A View also was planning to read this so we teamed up and asked each other some questions about the book, which you will find below my review. You can read my answers to her questions on her blog!

Good to a Fault: What it is about

A car accident that isn’t her fault changes Clara’s life in an unexpected way. When the family in the other car taken to hospital for minor injuries, it is discovered that the mother, Lorraine, has a serious illness and needs to stay for a while.

Clara discovers that the family is homeless and were on their way to a town far away because of the promise of a job for Clayton, the father. They have three children with them, a girl of ten, Dolly, a boy, Trevor, who is five or so, and a baby of 10 months, Pearce. Then there’s Mrs Pell, he quiet grandmother who does not tire herself with the goings on of the family.

Clara offers to take the family (minus the hospital-bound Lorraine) in but it’s clear she doesn’t really know what she let herself in for. With a young baby and two bigger children, a criminal father and a grandma who refuses to help out, she is in for a busy time.

Luckily, family and friends offer to help and it’s heart-warming how everyone takes a share of the burden. Still, the hardest work, of looking for the children, is for Clare. Everyone knows this is only temporary, and what will happen if Lorraine doesn’t survive, or if she is dismissed from hospital declared healthy?

Good to a Fault: What I thought

I enjoyed this book a lot. It is a story about being useful to others and about belonging. I never understood Clara but I did care about her. How can anyone decide to take a whole family in? A family that you don’t know anything about. Very unlikely but in Clara’s case it did feel like something she would do.

Poor Clara had spend years looking after her ailing mother and getting this family move in with her served two purposes: she had someone (several people) to care for, filling a gap that her mother had left, and this was also a great opportunity to defy her dead mother’s wishes. Her mother had a strong mind, with many things being improper or not-done and I think Clara was ready to find herself by doing things differently from her mother.

I liked the book because it very well describes the struggle of keeping a family going. This was all the more obvious because Clara had to do all the work herself and it was all new to her. Mothers who get one child at a time will learn, almost automatically, what to do in certain circumstances, and to anticipate things. And an experienced mother with three children in her care would not have accepted Mrs Pell as an extra person to care for. She would have pulled her out of her comfy chair and given her some tasks. Well, I would! I think.

The book also is good at describing how a serious illness affects the whole family, not just the person who is ill. I liked it how the families, Lorraine’s family and Clara’s family both helped out and became one family for the time being. The church ladies could be seen as another family, but they were quite unhelpful. I think they symbolised Clara’s mother and her views.

Read more about my thoughts in the Q & A at Mari’s blog, Bookworm With A View.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

I got this book: from Windmill Books in a contest

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 488

First published: 2008

Genre: contemporary fiction

Interview with Mari of Bookworm With a View

Mari: I saw you gave the book 5 stars, you liked it more than I did.  I enjoyed it but it was much ‘darker’ than I was expecting.  I will give it 4 stars.  The writing is amazing, story telling and characters.

Judith:  It’s a wonderful book and I read it in two days. I just loved the happy-family feel and how others helped out Clara. And I felt for Lorraine and the kids and so hoped that she would be OK (but didn’t expect it really).

Mari: The husband’s reaction from the car accident to the Cancer diagnosis was unsettling.  Did your opinion of him change from the beginning to the end of the novel?

Judith: I think my opinion of the husband became more mellow during the book: at first I found him a {insert curse} father and a {insert bad word} husband, etc. But later, especially when I realised that Lorraine just took him as he was, I was more prepared to do that too. He ran away from illness and that was just the person he was. Not good, but quite reliable in that way. And he did try the help out, for instance, by finding Darwin, Lorraine’s brother, and by trying to get a deposit on a house together.

Mari: Good to a Fault is a great name for this book, what was your opinion of Clara and how did it change throughout the novel?  Did you think Clara was Good to a Fault?

Judith: At first I thought Clara was completely crazy for feeling guilty and taking the family into her home. I was not sure I would like this book, because I could not identify with that part of Clara at all. I was more or less happy with the way she dealt with things and the story was interesting enough, but I never got very attached to Clara but I did care about her.

I don’t think she was good to a fault, she was a bit misguided, I think. I believe she wanted a change in her life and took the first opportunity available – and did it change her life!

Mari: The Grandmother – how did she help the story?  Did you like her as a character?  I wish we had time to learn more about her but I enjoyed her and how she was sprinkled throughout the book.  She was just terrible with the baby!

Judith:  I didn’t like the grandmother one bit. What an awful person, just thinking about herself and not helping out at all. My opinion of her wasn’t that much different of that of her son, but again, I did mellow towards her a bit in the end and just took her for who she was. Her idea of looking after the baby fitted very well with her personality I think but I’m glad Clara discovered it quite soon. Wouldn’t you have liked to show Mrs Pell the door? I wanted Clara to do that but she never considered it, I think.

Mari: Did you like how the story ended?

Judith: The ending was a bit too nice and a bit too awful. But I could live with it, especially since I was expecting something like that earlier in the book already.

Have YOU read this book? What are your thoughts?

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at and We edit books and articles for independent writers.

16 Responses to Book Review With Bookworm With A View: Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

  1. Joanna says:

    I loved this review, Judith, especially the combined nature of it. I feel like I know so much about the book now.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Joanna, it’s interesting because Mari and I had quite different ideas about the book but we still both liked it. But she seemed more interested in the characters that I disliked (the grandmother, the father) while I was more interested in Clara, which she didn’t feel any compassion for. Isn’t that interesting?

      So it means that even if two people enjoy a book, they may enjoy it for very different reasons.

  2. I wonder what book we will read next…

    This was a good experience for you, I didn’t see this book as a family helping each other so I was surprised when this was your answer. It made me reflect and think of the book differently.

    It’s interesting to read how different our experience was, reading the same book. Let’s do this again sometime.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mari, it was very good fun and we must do it again!

      I liked how Clara was helped by her cousins a lot, and how Lorraine’s brother helped out. Clara wasn’t alone in her attempt to do something for that family, she had back-up. That made me see her decision in a slightly different way – not quite as crazy as I had thought.

  3. Erika says:

    The interview is such a brilliant idea! I kind of felt like I was eavesdropping on a conversation about books. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. This sounds different, but in a good way!

  5. Suzanne says:

    I really enjoyed this book as well — I like to think that I’d do the same thing in Clara’s position, but realistically I’m not so sure.

    Have you read How to be Good by Nick Hornby? It has a vaguely similar premise and I had it in mind when I was reading Good to a Fault.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, yes, I *did* read* How To Be Good* but *Good to a Fault* didn’t remind me of it at all. Maybe because I read it a long time ago. At least, that was the one with the guru, wasn’t it? That book annoyed me but in a nice way. I enjoyed it, too.

  6. Nadine Nys says:

    Seems like fun, Judith, reading a book together with someone else and sharing your thoughts… It was fun to read your interview too.
    Another book for the wishlist.

  7. i would of never picked up the book on my own and read it, would of missed out on a good read. I like it

  8. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I have finished it finally! I think your interpretation of Clara’s motivation in taking the family in is exactly right and I understand her impulse. My sympathies really were torn between Clary and Lorraine a lot of the time. I enjoyed the book but It will only get four stars from me

    • Leeswammes says:

      Glad you enjoyed this book too, Shelleyrae. Somehow I didn’t like Lorraine so much – I think I felt more sorry for the children, having their mother in hospital with no idea when (if) she’d come out again.

  9. Pingback: Review: Good To A Fault by Marina Endicott « book'd out

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