Maeve tells her own story. She doesn't think it can get any worse. In one day, the thirty-six-year-old sports reporter loses her job because the newspaper where she works goes bankrupt. She and the rest of the world see her boyfriend from the Seattle Mariners cheating on her on a video, and she's mugged on the way to her car. Of course, the world has a way of beating you down. She receives a phone call from a woman named Alice telling her that her birth mother, Annabelle, has died.
Maeve knows her parents, the Stephens, wanted her when they adopted her as an infant. And, they wanted her brother, Eli, who is several years younger. But, despite his rough past, Eli grew up to be a dentist, have a successful marriage, and two children. What does Maeve have in life? No job, no successful relationship, and a car that is dying. So, why not show up for the funeral of a woman she never knew?
But, everyone in Timber Creek, Washington knew Annabelle. She was Alice's best friend. She was a member of a small group of women in the St. Francis Society. And, she took in stray animals. She also left everything to Maeve, including a small house and an incorrigible cat who immediately falls for Maeve. Then there's the man who believes Maeve will take in animals, a man with a bulldog he can no longer keep. Maeve's terrified. She's never been able to keep anything alive, and she's not sure she'll keep the house. But, something about the small town that loved her mother attracts her.
While Maeve relates most of the story, Noblin inserts chapters in which the reader sees a younger Annabelle. While Maeve was raised in a loving household, and felt out of place, Annabelle lost her parents at a young age, and it was Alice's family that took her in. But, just because someone has a place to sleep doesn't mean it's a safe environment.
Over the course of the story, Maeve learns about the people of Timber Creek, about her mother, and about broken lives. It takes time for Maeve to discover that everyone has a life broken in some way.
Noblin has created a cast of fascinating characters, from Annabelle and Maeve and Alice, to the mysterious writer down the street. And, appearances can be deceiving, as Maeve discovers. But, I did feel as if the author waited too long to explain the purpose of the St. Francis Society. And, while Annabelle's story was given a satisfactory ending, it felt as if Maeve's was unfinished.
Despite the few flaws, I'd recommend St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets. The characters and their stories stand out in this book, and I'll look for Noblin's future novels.