Martha Hale is an affable wife and mother who lives in an affluent neighborhood of well-tended lawns and high expectations. If only her clumsiness at penetrating the social circles of her neighbors weren’t making Martha so lonely.
That’s why she’s thrilled when the glamorous Minnie Foster, a former high school classmate, moves in next door. Martha’s determination to pick up where they left off is trickier than anticipated–especially when their memories of the past don’t always align. But Martha is undeterred. In fact, her preoccupation with Minnie’s life, her success, and her marriage is becoming an obsession. When she sees a darkness and shame hiding inside Minnie’s perfectly deceptive home, Martha realizes that not even Minnie’s secrets are what they seem.
Visceral, sharp-witted, and deeply empathetic, A Gracious Neighbor explores the judgments women pass on one another and the ills of a society curated to keep them on the outside looking in.
“A dynamic and insightful storyteller, Cander imbues her work with such poignant character detail, as a reader, I felt I’d all but moved into Martha’s neighborhood. As a documented lover of tales of complicated relationships between women, I must say that A Gracious Neighbor is among the best.”
—Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of The Husbands
“I couldn’t stop turning these witty, suspenseful pages. What new lengths would the endearing and exasperating Martha go to in her pursuit of friendship? This is a sparkling and deeply satisfying novel.”
—Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field
“Fast paced and affecting from start to finish, A Gracious Neighbor offers keen insight into modern-day loneliness and takes a good, hard look at what often lurks behind picturesque houses and perfectly manicured lawns. Chris Cander’s skill and empathy make this one of those rare novels that feels like a character study but reads like a thriller.”
—Matthew Norman, author of Last Couple Standing and All Together Now
“Even upscale Houston neighborhoods, filled with families, can hold secrets and dangers. And even those lucky enough to live in them can feel like outsiders in their own lives. Cander navigates the complexities of female friendship and the power of an extended hand with deep insight and empathy. I was completely riveted!”
—Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas
“Moving seamlessly between a thriller, a comedy, and a study of the everyday, A Gracious Neighbor conjures the universal. Love, jealousy, social anxiety, and our endless foibles are displayed with warmth and hilarity. Cander’s characters come to life and leave us turning the next page. This isn’t simply a Houston novel but a novel about the collective ‘us.’”
—Mark Haber, author of Deathbed Conversions and Reinhardt’s Garden
“Anyone who wishes they could choose their neighbors will relate to this simmering suburban drama. Chris Cander pits the power of compassion against the pressures of uniformity in this hugely entertaining drama. Cander explores the high cost of privacy, the insecurity behind our efforts to maintain appearances, and the risks we take to find out what’s really going on behind closed doors.”
—Christina Clancy, author of Shoulder Season