‘Best Staged Plans’ by Claire Cook


Rating: 5 stars

Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook is a novel that’s about finding out what is important in life (tips for staging one’s home and clearing out clutter are also included).

Sandy and her husband have raised their two children and are ready for a new stage in their lives. At least, Sandy is. Frustrated with her husband, who is procrastinating about getting their lovely Victorian home in the Boston suburbs in perfect shape to sell, and about her grown son living in their basement, she takes a staging job in Atlanta.

Determined to stay there until she hears that her husband has done the work, she finds out that there is more to life than a perfect home.

The story is told in first person narrative, which provides lots of opportunities for Sandy’s innermost thoughts and feelings to be shared with the reader. Her epiphany, when it happens, is wonderfully written.

Sandy finds out that having a grown son living in her basement and a husband who prefers jogging and playing tennis over painting the kitchen cabinet doors is just not that bad on the spectrum of what could really go wrong with a life.

It takes a homeless woman in Atlanta to teach Sandy that important lesson. But once Sandy begins to work on changing her priorities, she finds that helping others is a reward all its own.

In addition to finding out what’s more important than a beautifully staged home, Sandy shares other important secrets with the readers. She is an expert at “staging” dinner from Trader Joe’s. I know that I will never walk through Trader Joe’s again without thinking of Sandy and her assembled dinners. Hint: be sure to throw out all packaging that might give away the fact that the whole meal is not homemade.

Unlike Cook’s last novel, Seven Year Switch, the protagonist in Best Staged Plans is a female Baby Boomer, right in there with the other boomers — thinking about retirement, downsizing, and what to do when the kids are gone. It’s a perfect read for anyone approaching those years be she forty or sixty.

This review was based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher.