After 24 years of marriage, Elizabeth has finally come to terms with the fact that her husband, Jack, and her 2 daughters have all taken center stage in her life, leaving her to cast aside her own dreams and aspirations. When Jack was a famous football star, she cared for her young daughters mostly by herself. When Jack later became a smaller time sports caster, moving from town to town where opportunities arose, she duly followed. But now that the girls are both out of the house, she realizes that it is time for her to attend to herself – she just has to figure out whether that plan will include Jack or not…
This is a story that will, sadly, strike a familiar chord with many readers, I believe. When the nest empties, it is often a challenge for couples to fill the void – or it is the time when the void has to finally be acknowledged. Hannah describes this conflict with sensitivity, honesty and warmth, presenting both Elizabeth’s and Jack’s sides to a complicated story.
I think it was not good that I knew before reading this book that the author had written The Nightingale. That book was so outstanding that I had elevated expectations for this one. For example, some subplots were hinted at but then left undone. One character, Kim, who Elizabeth met in a support group, was a mysterious, moodier member of the group. It appeared that she was going to be more of a presence in the book (and it was an interesting possibility), but she was just sort of abandoned in a more underdeveloped state.
I would still recommend this book – it was a nice read – but manage your expectations if you’ve read The Nightingale!
It is the late 1960’s and Frankie has just moved to Palo Alto with her husband and two children. While her husband has found his dream job, her own dream of going to college and becoming a writer has gone unfulfilled. That is, until she meets the “Wednesday Sisters.” While watching her children play in a park near her new home, she meets a group of women who become her closest friends, her confidantes, and her literary critics! And as the 60’s roll into the 70’s, they see each other through their writing struggles as well as their personal struggles, and they evolve with women all over the country, supporting each other as they each begin to pursue their own interests and passions just as their husbands have done.
This is a sweet story, with the 1960’s as a subtle backdrop. The women have a wonderful relationship and bring out the best in each other. The respect that they show for each other, in spite of their individual quirks and conflicts, is what most would aspire to in a friendship and their solidarity, expressed most fully at the end (I won’t spoil it for you!) is truly beautiful. It is a little far-reaching as “realistic” goes, but it works anyway.
A fun, mostly light read… definitely a chick book!
For each of the 3 families attending the BBQ hosted by Tiffany and Vin, life was permanently altered. Clementine and Sam were unsure if their marriage would survive, Tiffany and Vin were not sure what was going on with their daughter, Dakota, and Erika could not remember a slice of time during the BBQ and was obsessively trying to recover that memory. Life seemed so simple before the BBQ. Things were taken for granted…
The beauty of this book is in the skillful crafting of the narrative, which circles around the BBQ and only very gradually divulges exactly what happened and how. By rotating around the characters’ perspectives and by weaving in and out of time frames, Moriarty builds up the suspense and enriches the impact of the crescendo of the story. And on the way down, she continues to add smaller punches which ultimately tie in each of the pieces of the puzzle.
I also love the message in this book, which is, essentially, that issues that are difficult or painful should be talked through. Keeping secrets and holding things inside only lead to repression and misperceptions, usually resulting in unfounded guilt or other sources of misery. Especially with children.
I am a big fan of Liane Moriarty – and this is yet another engaging, well-spun tale by her!