Claire Cook is a writer that can weave a story with wit and wisdom and touch on topics that are true to a woman's heart. Best Staged Plans is Claire's 8th book and is definitely another winner. It has become a welcome tradition for me to read a Claire Cook novel every summer. The main character is Sandy who has reached a crossroads of sorts in her own life. Professionally, she is a home stager, changing and re-arranging others homes to draw the perfect buyer to close a sale. She realizes that her own life needs change as her children are grown, her own Victorian historical home that she has loving restored is now over-sized for their life and she'd like to downsize and have less responsibility. Her husband is dragging his feet a bit and is not quite ready for this change in their life and their adult son is living in a bat cave in their basement. Sandy is offered a chance to stage a boutique hotel in Atlanta, recently purchased sight unseen by her best friend's boyfriend. She jumps at the chance, her daughter and son-in-law live there so it's an added bonus to spend time with them. She is hoping that this will push her husband into action to ready their home for sale so that they can move onto the next stage of their life together. Not every plan is perfect as Sandy ends up having to turn things around at the hotel quickly while learning secrets about her best friend's boyfriend. Sandy's friendship with a homeless woman named Naomi steals the show and for me, is the heart of the novel. Sandy demonstrates that others hardship can make you realize and appreciate what you are blessed with in your own life. She is able to help Naomi make a positive change and in doing so realizes that what is best for us isn't always staged.
Best Staged Plans is perfect summer reading, light-hearted and fun but with a meaningful message. This will also grab the interest of those who love HGTV decorating shows with the added bonus of some decorating ideas and tips. This is one that you will want to share with your girlfriends. It would make a great summer (or anytime of year) book club pick. You can read an excerpt of Best Staged Plans and find a list of Book Club Conversation Starters, here.
Check out this sneak peek video excerpt of Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook: