The Jetsetters

The Jetsetters

by Amanda Eyre Ward

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine Book Pick • New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
 
“Dysfunctional family goes away together on a Mediterranean cruise: What’s not to love? This novel fell squarely in my wheelhouse and I was delighted anew in every port. The Jetsetters is fun, sexy, and engrossing.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand

When seventy-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits a sexy essay to the Become a Jetsetter contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children: Lee, an almost-famous actress; Cord, a handsome Manhattan venture capitalist who can’t seem to find a partner; and Regan, a harried mother who took it all wrong when Charlotte bought her a Weight Watchers gift certificate for her birthday. Charlotte yearns for the years when her children were young, when she was a single mother who meant everything to them.

When she wins the contest, the family packs their baggage—both literal and figurative—and spends ten days traveling from sun-drenched Athens through glorious Rome to tapas-laden Barcelona on an over-the-top cruise ship, the Splendido Marveloso. As lovers new and old join the adventure, long-buried secrets are revealed and old wounds are reopened, forcing the Perkins family to confront the forces that drove them apart and the defining choices of their lives.

Can four lost adults find the peace they’ve been seeking by reconciling their childhood aches and coming back together? In the vein of The Nest and The Vacationers, The Jetsetters is a delicious and intelligent novel about the courage it takes to reveal our true selves, the pleasures and perils of family, and how we navigate the seas of adulthood.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399181900
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2020
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 94
File size: 9 MB

About the Author

Amanda Eyre Ward is the critically acclaimed author of seven novels, including How to Be Lost, Close Your Eyes, The Same Sky, and The Nearness of You. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

Read an Excerpt

1 / Charlotte

Some evenings, Charlotte found herself standing in front of the family portrait. It hung in her Savannah, Georgia condominium, above the gas fireplace she rarely turned on. In the painting, her hair was a marvel of burnt umber and gold, falling in loose waves around her jawline. Her face was inscrutable with a “Mona Lisa smile,” as they called it, alluring in its standoffishness. No actual person smiled in this way. It was an expression meant to be gazed upon, not the sort of smile that came spontaneously, from joy. And yet, Charlotte concluded, she looked lovely, much better than she’d ever looked in real life. And certainly much better than she looked now that she was seventy-­one years old, her gray hair frosted to Marilyn Monroe platinum every third Tuesday by Hannah at Shear Envy.

Charlotte decided to wear a little black dress to her best friend’s funeral. Minnie had made gentle fun of Charlotte when she bought a neon-­pink cardigan at the Ralph Lauren outlet store, so Charlotte tossed it over her shoulders and added a white Coach purse. Charlotte could have called her daughter Regan for a ride, but then she would have to hear about the Weight Watchers gift certificate again, so Charlotte drove herself.

Charlotte and Minnie had discussed caskets more than once. Charlotte felt an open casket was both scary and kind of tacky. Minnie disagreed. She believed that saying goodbye to an actual face gave you more closure afterward. “I deal in reality,” Minnie had said, “and you live in denial. Or you try. But it’s going to catch up with you one day, Char.”

Perhaps today was the day.

Charlotte walked slowly to the altar, weak and dizzy. She could see Father Thomas watching her, and appreciated his concern. She peered inside the open casket, as Minnie would have wanted her to do. Minnie was wearing too much bronzer, but then she had always worn too much bronzer. Charlotte had tried to tell her, “Minnie, go easy with the bronzer!” But Minnie hadn’t listened, had gone on doing whatever she wanted. It was part of why Charlotte had loved her, ever since they’d first met at a St. James pancake breakfast, soon after Minnie had moved to Savannah. The pancakes had been awful—­mealy, drenched with cheap syrup—­and Minnie had turned to Charlotte and said, “Eyuck!”

Charlotte had looked down. She considered herself refined, not the type to insult pancakes at a church.

“Did you hear me?” said Minnie. “I said, ‘Eyuck!’ ”

“I heard you,” murmured Charlotte.

“Your pants are fabulous,” said Minnie.

Charlotte touched her leopard-­print culottes (which matched her cheetah-­print shoes). They were fabulous.

They’d both been lonely. They went to art openings, Wine Down Wednesdays, and the Driftaway Café. They went to Marshwood Pool and Franklin Creek Pool, zipping along the golf-­cart paths, past magnolia trees and winter–lowering camellias. They played golf and watched people play tennis. Minnie had a Blue Demon golf cart with a forty-­eight-­volt motor and leather seats. Somehow—how?—twenty years passed, and now Charlotte was officially old and Minnie was dead.

“Too much bronzer, honey,” whispered Charlotte. Her throat grew hot. She touched Minnie’s cheek. “A nice blush. Why not a nice blush, Min?” she said softly. Once, after they had split a bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay, Minnie had allowed Charlotte to give her a makeover. In Charlotte’s bathroom, Minnie offered up her face. Charlotte applied foundation, mascara, lip liner, and lipstick. She curled Minnie’s sparse lashes, dusted her with loose powder. At last, Minnie opened her eyes. Charlotte ran a brush through her best friend’s hair as Minnie took in her new and improved visage.

“Well?” said Charlotte, crossing one arm over her chest, resting her chin in her opposite hand. “Aren’t you beautiful?”

“I look like a prostitute on Saturday night,” said Minnie, turning her head side to side to survey Charlotte’s expert contouring.

“It’s Wednesday,” said Charlotte primly.

And then they both collapsed into laughter. How good it felt, thought Charlotte, to allow yourself to laugh, to let your guard down for an instant. The next day, when they met for their sunrise walk around the lagoon, Minnie’s face was as naked as a baby’s. A few years later, after her daughter sent her bronzer for her birthday, Minnie began showing up each morning in her usual visor and track pants, her cheeks carrot-­colored. For evening events, Minnie went orange from her hairline to her décolleté. The more Charlotte advised her, even buying Minnie subtle, tinted sunscreens and liquid blush at T.J.Maxx, the more defiantly Minnie bronzed.

Charlotte remembered Minnie’s warm cheekbones under her fingers, Minnie’s small sigh as she enjoyed the pleasure of being touched. Now, Minnie’s skin was ice.

“Ma’am?” said the woman behind Charlotte in line. She turned, but the woman was a stranger.

It was pouring rain outside St. James the Less Catholic Church. A young man offered his umbrella. Charlotte shook her head, hating to depend on anyone.

She had trouble getting her key in the lock of her VW Rabbit. The rain was relentless. When she was sitting inside her cozy condominium, she loved Savannah thunderstorms. But now, in a parking lot, she felt afraid. Everything seemed too loud. All Charlotte wanted was to drive home, pour a cold glass of Barefoot Chardonnay, and drink the cold glass of Barefoot Chardonnay. How could it be true that she couldn’t call Minnie to gossip about the funeral? Who had dressed Minnie in her least favorite floral blouse—­the one with the tulips—­and an unflattering, high-­waisted skirt?

Minnie had two children: a ne’er-­do-­well son and a divorced daughter. Both lived in New Jersey, the state Minnie had fled after her husband’s death. Charlotte had received an Evite to a brunch being held at Minnie’s townhouse “directly after the burial of our beloved Mama,” but had deleted it. Charlotte couldn’t bear to see Minnie lowered into the ground and was upset on Minnie’s behalf that her children couldn’t be bothered to send actual paper invitations. Though Minnie wouldn’t have cared. But Charlotte cared! It was simply gauche to send an Evite for an après-­funeral brunch. Minnie deserved better—­an eggshell-­white or pale pink invitation; handwritten calligraphy on heavy card stock.

Did Charlotte’s own children know to send paper invitations? Did they know she’d like a lunch held at Marshwood after her funeral? She made a mental note to tell Regan, who would remember. For a moment in the rain, Charlotte felt a wave of gratitude for her overweight, thoughtful daughter. She resolved to make more of an effort to be kind.

The battery on Charlotte’s key fob had run out months before. She knew she was jamming her key in the right place! But the door remained locked. “Mrs. Perkins!” cried the young man Charlotte had walked away from moments before. “I can help!” 

What Charlotte wouldn’t give to slide into her car and zoom away. 

“I can help,” he called, walk-­jogging across the lot, his enormous golf umbrella keeping him dry. “Mrs. Perkins,” he said, his voice overly solicitous. Charlotte knew he saw her as elderly, an elderly lady in the rain. She wanted him to know she’d been a stunning beauty once—­that inside, she was still that graceful young bohème. But strangers seeing you as someone you couldn’t bear to be was simply one of the indignities of age. You could accept it, rail against it, or just pretend it wasn’t happening. Charlotte moved between acceptance and willful ignorance, too elegant (and perhaps too worn out) to bother with nips, tucks, and the Beach Booty videos her friend Greer swore by.

“Let me help you, Mrs. Perkins,” said the man. He took her keys right out of her hand and she let him. “I offered you my umbrella,” he reminded her.

When she was inside her car, the young man lingered, saying, “I know you and Mrs. Robbins were thick as thieves. Always saw you cackling together after mass! I’m sorry for your loss. I’m really sorry.”

Charlotte felt antipathy rise inside her toward this man—­his cologne-­y smell, his close shave, his use of the word “cackling,” as if she and Minnie were nothing more than withered crones. His useless condolences. And worst of all, the fact that he was living and Minnie—­kind, sarcastic, thrumming with mischief—­was not.

“I said I sure am sorry,” repeated the man.

“Thank you,” said Charlotte. Finally, he shut the door and walk-­jogged back to the church steps. Charlotte closed her eyes. Rain hammered down.

Customer Reviews

The Jetsetters 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
LGandhi 9 days ago
So, had the world been able to have spring breaks, this could be a fun book to read while on it. The author's writing style is very easy breezy and relaxed. It reads quickly. And hey, you're on a cruise - what's not to love? Mix in a little family drama, hidden secrets, taboo topics that come to the surface and it should be a recipe for a knock it out of the park book. But for me it wasn't. I loved the beginning of the book, really the first half I thought was great. Then the excitement dropped and kept dropping right through the end. The second half of the book and especially the ending was a ship wreck for me. It drives me up the wall when authors just abruptly end a story and you don't feel the story should have ended yet. Layer on top of that a few unanswered questions that are just left hanging out there and I get frustrated as a reader. The first half I would rate 4 stars. The second half I rate 2 stars, landing me right in the middle at 3 stars overall. I didn't love it yet I didn't hate it either. My thanks to Amanda Eyre Ward, Ballentine books and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Kwpat 9 days ago
I was really looking forward to reading The Jetsetters. I loved the beginning. The author had me fully engaged with this dysfunctional family. So many problems to solve. I felt for the three children living with a very dysfunctional father. And what happened to him. The author then moves the story forward thirty years with Charlotte winning a cruise, and she brings her three adult children and son-in-law with her. My thoughts at this point was that the family would resolve all of their issues. Unfortunately, the sympathy I had for Charlotte, Lee, Cord, and Regan disappeared. For me it was painful trying to finish the book. I would give 5 stars for the beginning and 2 stars for the middle and ending of this book. Thank you Ballantine and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 2.5 stars
Anonymous 15 days ago
This is the first time I’ve been given access to a book on my wishlist, so this was an extra fun read for me! The Jetsetters is a book for anyone who enjoys family drama and dysfunction. Each character has their own secrets, many of which spill out on a family cruise. This book didn’t entirely click for me, but I can see it becoming a majorly recommended book for anyone looking for a Spring Break beach read.
Ms-Hurst 24 days ago
I really wanted to get into this family drama. I thought it would be quirky and fun. It really wasn't. This dysfunctional family has been estranged for a long time. A bad marriage and an abusive father start the prologue. Then we jumps over 30 years. Mom is a pretty old 70 and she wins a cruise for herself and her family. Once they all get there, it is obvious that they haven't been open and honest with each other since the early 80s. Maybe never. The story jumps perspective between Charlotte, Regan, Lee, and Cord. We know how messed up everyone is. But if I wanted to be in an uncomfortable situation with people and have a miserable time, I would just take a cruise with my own mother, sister, and brother. Not much escapism there. I thought it was OK. I was hoping for more. Parts did stay with me, though, so it gets 3 stars just for that.
Anonymous 26 days ago
I highly recommend reading this book about quite the dysfunctional family who "win" a cruise trip to travel to Europe. A lot of secrets come out throughout the book, ones that change the course of their lives forever. It was very witty and yet at times, depressing but I enjoyed following their stories.
Renwarsreads 27 days ago
I went into this book expecting a fun, if not dysfunctional, family drama. I found none of the characters likable or even remotely interesting. They had so much undealt with baggage that cost them so many years spent alone, putting their family members way past arms length. Even on this once in a lifetime trip they couldn't see past their problems to try to enjoy the beauty in the places that they were visiting and didn't once try to rekindle any old family relationships. Charlotte was so worried about her appearances that she really wasted her whole life. This book would be a solid 3 1/2 stars for me if I could rate it in half stars.
LlamaJen 27 days ago
I enjoyed the book. It was hard to like the Perkins family, but they were at least entertaining. Although, at times it got to be too much. Dysfunctional hardly describes them. I'm not sure which one of them had more problems, but I definitely blame Charlotte for most of them. She never protected her three children from any of her husband's abuse. For a family cruise, they hardly spent much time with each other. Charlotte was on the look out for a lover since she constantly had sexual fantasies going through her head, all the while ignoring the problems her children were facing. Lee was sleeping with practically every man she met on the cruise. Regan is in a loveless marriage, has a pottery painting addiction and is ignoring a report from a private investigator about her husband's activities. Cord was pretending to be someone else and didn't want his mom or sisters to find out who he was engaged to while also trying to remain sober. The whole Perkins family would make you want to drink or jump overboard. I couldn't imagine how Charlotte was able to win the contest with her essay. There are definitely a few twists. Giovanni was definitely my favorite character, probably because he wasn't actually a Perkins. I loved reading about the different cities that the family visited. I never knew Malta had the largest cannon. The book also makes me not want to go on a cruise or at least not on one like the Splendido Cruise. It was only supposed to be for nine days, but it seemed so much longer. I also loved Minnie and Charlotte's friendship. I recommend the book. yes, the characters came with a ton of baggage, but at times they all made me laugh even though I wanted to choke them most of the time. I look forward to reading more books by the author. ( I LOVED "The Same Sky") I received a complimentary copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
bookaholique 27 days ago
Three adult children going on a cruise with their Mom. One daughter brings her husband (not willingly). Everyone involved has secrets and think this just may be the trip where it all finally comes out. One can only imagine the level of craziness. I must admit this hooked me from the very beginning. I had to find out if everyone would have the nerve to show their true selves. And who doesn't like a good story about a dysfunctional family? I have yet to meet an adult who doesn't have some level of messy family dynamics. As all of the Perkins reflect back on their relationships as young kids, they also have to come to terms with who they are as adults and if they even still like each other. Very interesting. My thanks to Ballantine Books and Netgalley for this ARC.
3900980 27 days ago
I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of The Jetsetters long before it became Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club selection for March. With that said, I can certainly understand why it was chosen. The Jetsetters is about a dysfunctional/functional, imperfectly/perfect family whose baggage goes well beyond the type one takes on a trip. Charlotte Perkin's best friend has just died. A widow of many years who was married to an angry alcoholic, she has three children. They are not the Brady Bunch. She starts to feel as if her life is over. She needs something new in her life or she knows she will die. She decides to enter a writing contest called Become a Jetsetter by writing a little erotic short story from when she a young single woman. And she wins! And the prize is a European cruise. She decides to ask her children to join her in hopes of somehow bringing them all together. Lee is her daughter who is still trying to become an actress, even though she now is in her late 30's. Regan is an unhappily married mother of two who put aside her dreams to become an artist to marry and have children. She married Lee's old boyfriend! Cord is a businessman who Charlotte cannot understand why he won't just settle down. He is gay. Charlotte has no idea. So the family sets sail with all their baggage...pun intended! As they cruise and visit the cities of Rome, Athens and Barcelona the children (who are really adults) but hardly act that way, and Charlotte, begin to explore their individual problems and demons as well as disagreements and squabbles with each other. Fighting ensues and Charlotte does what she does best in these situations...smile and pretend nothing is really wrong. But as old wounds and secrets begin to surface, Charlotte must not only face and accept her children's flaws and love them anyway, but she must also accept her own regrets which she has carried like heavy baggage from her own childhood and learn to love herself. The Jetsetters delves into what a broken family looks like. It is funny, yet sensitive and heartbreaking all at the same time. We can all identify with family crisis of some sort. And as we would in our own family, we root for them all, feel their pain and embarrassment, and hope they can put their baggage away and become better people and a new family.
bookluvr35SL 28 days ago
Charlotte Perkins buries her best friend and realizes how lonely she is now. At 70, she lives alone and the only person she talks to regularly is her priest. On a whim she enters an essay contest where the prize is a 10 day cruise and shore excursion trip through Greece, Italy and Spain. Charlotte wins and takes this opportunity to take her 3 grown children on a dream vacation and hopefully bring the family closer together and heal what is troubling each of them. This was a fun, light read. I liked how each chapter was told from the perspective of either Charlotte, Lee... who was a washed-up actress still pretending to be making it big, Cord... who couldn't seem to find the courage to tell his family he was gay, and Regan....who is in a miserable marriage and is looking for a way out. If you are a fan of chick lit I think you will enjoy this.
Anattorneywrites 28 days ago
I am a fan of reading about family dysfunctional as well as a fan of Amanda Eyre Ward, so the novel, “Jetsetters” is a win-win for me. “The Jetsetters” tells the story of the Perkin family, which is led my matriarch, Charlotte, who writes an essay that supposedly leads to the prize of a Mediterranean cruise for herself and her three children, Lee, Cord, and Regan. The children have grown apart from each other and their mother; each also shields secrets that will naturally be uncovered throughout the course of this cruise. Charlotte, who has recently lost her best friend, wonders if there is any life left to live. Lee, broke and unable to get any acting gigs, is burdened by helping her mother cover-up her father’s death and fears her own story will hold the same sad ending. Cord is recently engaged but is afraid to tell his family he is gay. Meanwhile, Regan has lost herself in an unhappy marriage. Alternating the different point of views of Charlotte and her children, the book is divided into section based on the different destination the cruise ship takes. Ms. Ward’s descriptions of the ship and the different stops put the reader right on the ship with the family. Though parts of the novel are laugh out hilarious, the novel also wrestles with hefty topics such as alcoholism and suicide Ms. Ward writes at a lively pace as she weaves through the Perkins’ trials and tribulations. Charlotte, especially, is very likable as she struggles to reunite her family as well as fall in love for perhaps the first time ever. For any fan of a well-written story that resonates with the reader long after you finish the final page, I highly recommend this book. I'd like to thank NetGalley and the author for providing me an advanced copy.
Roxanne Johnson 2 days ago
I just lost interest in the book
Christine Kennedy 7 days ago
good