Title: The Wednesday Sisters
Author: Meg Waite Clayton
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
Friendship, loyalty, and love lie at the heart of Meg Waite Clayton’s beautifully written, poignant, and sweeping novel of five women who, over the course of four decades, come to redefine what it means to be family.
For thirty-five years, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally have met every Wednesday at the park near their homes in Palo Alto, California. Defined when they first meet by what their husbands do, the young homemakers and mothers are far removed from the Summer of Love that has enveloped most of the Bay Area in 1967. These “Wednesday Sisters” seem to have little in common: Frankie is a timid transplant from Chicago, brutally blunt Linda is a remarkable athlete, Kath is a Kentucky debutante, quiet Ally has a secret, and quirky, ultra-intelligent Brett wears little white gloves with her miniskirts. But they are bonded by a shared love of both literature–Fitzgerald, Eliot, Austen, du Maurier, Plath, and Dickens–and the Miss America Pageant, which they watch together every year.
As the years roll on and their children grow, the quintet forms a writers circle to express their hopes and dreams through poems, stories, and, eventually, books. Along the way, they experience history in the making: Vietnam, the race for the moon, and a women’s movement that challenges everything they have ever thought about themselves, while at the same time supporting one another through changes in their personal lives brought on by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success.
Humorous and moving, The Wednesday Sisters is a literary feast for book lovers that earns a place among those popular works that honor the joyful, mysterious, unbreakable bonds between friends.
Meg Waite Clayton is one of those special authors who’s very active in the blogosphere. I follow her blog, First Books, which is a very interesting look about how writers got started on their first books. As such, I feel a little bad that it’s taken me this long to read The Wednesday Sisters, especially considering what a great book it ended up being!
The Wednesday Sisters is really about the characters. Clayton writes her characters very well, making them both sympathetic and independent. I loved Ally’s marriage, and that she was breaking stereotypes through it. Though Linda’s directness was a lot to take at the beginning, it was easy to come to love her. Brett’s gloves were an interesting mystery at the beginning, but they had become so much a part of her that when she finally revealed why she wore them, it was almost anti-climactic. Kath’s path up the career ladder was a joy to read about, as she was breaking through boundaries and walls every step of the way, and Frankie’s struggle to produce a novel and eventual triumph was heartwarming. Each of these women had their faults; sometimes they were prejudiced, sometimes they lied, sometimes they were plain difficult. But that made them all the more real to the reader.
The 1960’s was just as much of a character in the novel as any of the women. I loved reading about the group participating in the different activities of the decade. It was great to witness them talking about how the changes affected them. I also absolutely loved the fact that Clayton mentioned every single one of the important Apollo flights – I am a huge fan of the space program and I feel like it had a huge impact on the 1960’s. (I kept thinking back to the Apollo 8 panel I attended with astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders – my post). Clayton made the uncertainty of the times come alive in The Wednesday Sisters.
In many ways, The Wednesday Sisters is a coming of age novel – these women grow along with their country. I highly recommend this book – it’s one you don’t want to miss!