On a quiet Sunday in Southern California at Franny Keating’s christening, uninvited guest Bert Cousins bizarrely kisses the beautiful mother, Beverly Keating. And so begins years of heartache, decisions, regrets and alliances between the two families. There are six young children between them. Bert and Beverly eventually marry and move to Virginia. Many lives are intensified and torn by this mix of parents, stepparents and step siblings. This novel explores decades of choices and changes that take place in each of their lives, along with the deep connection that remains no matter how painful. I am a huge fan of the beautiful writing of Ann Patchett and thankfully (after the first half left me in a state of confusion) I fell in love with Franny whom I decided to consider the main character, of which there were far too many. Franny captured my interest for the remainder of the book with a beautiful closure of so many hearts traumatized by one couples kiss; call it the butterfly effect. But I barely got through it.