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Three Good Things

Three Good Things

A Novel

  • reading group guide
ELLEN McCLARETY, a recent divorcée, has opened a new bake shop in her small Midwestern town, hoping to turn her life around by dedicating herself to the traditional Danish pastry called kringle. She is no longer saddled by her ne’er-do-well husband, but the past still haunts her—sometimes by showing up on her doorstep. Her younger sister, Lanie, is a successful divorce attorney with a baby at home. But Lanie is beginning to feel that her perfect life is not as perfect as it seems. Both women long for the guidance of their mother, who died years ago but left them with lasting memories of her love and a wonderful piece of advice: “At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened.”

Ellen and Lanie are as close as two sisters can be, until one begins keeping a secret that could forever change both their lives. Wearing her big Midwestern heart proudly on her sleeve, Wendy Francis skillfully illuminates the emotional lives of two women with humor and compassion, weaving a story destined to be shared with a friend, a mother, or a sister.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451666342 | 
  • January 2013
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Read an Excerpt

“[The] very process of mixing, rolling, and folding layer upon layer for each kringle makes for a yoga of its own kind.”

The Book of Kringle

Ellen McClarety was thinking about serendipity, more particularly about serendipitous encounters, on her way into the shop this morning. The snow fell in heavy, leafy flakes, their distinct edges outlined against the car’s windshield before evaporating on the glass. A blanket of black stretched on either side of her. It was a darkness she’d grown accustomed to with her three a.m. risings for work, but this morning, the dark had a softness to it. No... see more

Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Three Good Things includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Wendy Francis. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Ellen McClarety, a recent divorcée who has opened a kringle shop as a creative outlet after the departure of her ex-husband, and her sister, Lanie, who juggles motherhood and a demanding career as a lawyer, are the heart and soul of Three Good Things. Ellen sees a connection with a customer from her store, but who will she choose when her past shows up unexpectedly? Meanwhile, Lanie sees her perfect life falling apart under the demands of motherhood. Both women long for the guidance of their mother, who died years ago, but left them with a wonderful piece of advice: “At the end of every day, you can always think of three good things that happened.”

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Serendipity is important to Ellen. What events are caused by serendipity in the book? Is serendipity always good, or does it sometimes have negative consequences?

2. How do you think the novel would be different if it had not been set in Wisconsin? How much does the setting influence how see more

About the Author

Wendy Francis
Brenda Bersani

Wendy Francis

Wendy Francis is a former senior editor in book publishing. Her writing has appeared in local magazines, such as The Improper Bostonian. She is currently a freelance editor and writer living outside of Boston.




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