Nan localizes Nantucket. Charmed, beautiful, slightly eccentric, she is at that age where she can get away with mostly anything: trespassing or swimming naked or wearing scarlet lipstick everywhere.
Nan lives in a huge old house where she has decided to run a bed and breakfast for summer guests. It is this house which brings together a handful of curious, complicated personalities: Michael, Nan’s son, Bea and Daniel (a soon to be divorced couple), Daphne (a divorced real estate agent) and her hormonal and horrible daughter.
Nan eases and re-invents the lives which assemble around her; she couples, amuses, and converts her guests, into friends, into family.
Gamash celebrates his marriage at a bed and breakfast with beds so high you need a little step stool to climb into them and bumps into a family murder.
“Don’t you know I’m going to live happily ever after anyway?”
After painting, waxing, polishing, wallpapering, and flowering up her old Nantucket house, Nan tells Sara about a man she met and loved. Sarah replies: but wouldn’t it be nice if you met him again and fell in love and lived happily ever after…?
It is then that Nan replies: “Don’t you know I’m going to live happily ever after anyway?” Thus an overgrammatical, nervously detailed book about women becomes a different kind of woman’s book. For it is a woman’s book. Men do not want to read about hypercritical wives with unemotional husbands. No, men do not want to read about the thousand layers of feelings baked into 3 women with marital problems. But then neither do women.
This is not just another old-woman-who-turns-an-old-house-into-a-bed-and-breakfast-and-finds-X (money, god, sex, success) book. This is a book about Nan, a lovely, lipsticked, free and sentimental gardener who smokes and bikes and lives in a big old house alone. Nan gathers around herself an assemblage of half couples, gay, divorced, confused and lonely. Somehow they mix and change each other — if only for the duration of a summer.