[amazon_image id="B003VIWNGM" link="true" target="_blank" size="large" ]The Good Daughters: A Novel (P.S.)[/amazon_image]
[amazon_link id="B003VIWNGM" target="_blank" ]The Good Daughters: A Novel[/amazon_link]
by Joyce Maynard
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Source: TLC Book Tours for my participation in a virtual book tour.
The Good Daughters tells the story of the “birthday sisters” – Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson. They were born on the same day, in the same New Hampshire hospital, but are different in every imaginable way. Ruth is the fifth daughter of a farmer and his wife; Dana is the second child born to an artist and her wayward husband who is always searching for the next big money-maker. The two share little except Ruth’s mother’s insistence upon keeping in touch, to the amazement of Ruth, who doesn’t understand it. Through Dana’s many homes in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast, the Planks and Dickersons stay abreast of one another and try to visit when possible. One perk to their visits is the opportunity for Ruth to see Dana’s older brother, Ray, to whom she has a soul-deep attraction.
The story follows Ruth and Dana from childhood to adulthood; from first love to marriage and, ultimately, divorce; from self-conscious teenagers to confident adults. We are taken on a journey of each woman’s self-discovery as Ruth and Dana come into her own person, with the sense that they don’t belong in the families they were raised in. The novel is told in opposing first-person narratives between the two “birthday sisters”. Ruth and Dana are so different, though, that it is very easy to distinguish between their stories.
It’s pretty clear to the reader what the big secret is from the opening chapters. The payoff is the journey the characters take in getting to the truth themselves. But, the journey is long and winding and the payoff, at least for me, left a lot to be desired. Other than the secret, there is a bit of a twist that comes very late in the novel. I was waiting for it. You know when a secret is so obvious that you think, “There’s got to be something more here”? That was why I kept reading. I was hoping there was something at the end that would knock my socks off and make it worth my while to have read the nearly 300 pages (else I probably would have stopped, to be honest). I wanted a payoff moment. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it. Early on, I had an inkling of the “twist” so when it was revealed, I had no “heart-flutter” moment. I was a little bummed.
One of the driving forces in the novel is Ruth’s relationship/obsession with Dana’s brother, Ray. Once you figure out the “big secret”, you immediately start agonizing over this relationship. Is “the truth” really “the truth”? You hope it isn’t, but what if it really is? This was one part of the novel that just left me heartbroken and a little weirded out, to be honest.
In stark contrast is Dana’s relationship with Clarice. Yes, Dana is a lesbian. Their relationship is beautifully portrayed and quite moving. (In the interest of full disclosure, there are some intimate scenes between these two characters).
As Ruth and Dana grow and mature and finally realize the secret, there was no climactic scene. The last chapter wraps things up in a tidy little bow and I was left with a sense that I didn’t really get anything out of this novel. To be fair, Joyce Maynard is a very gifted writer and I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. The characters were just a little flat and didn’t leave much of an impact. Even though Ruth and Dana are vastly different, their voices felt the same and I never really connected with either one of them. This is most definitely a character-driven story, but I was expecting a little more from the plot.
Wednesday, August 24th: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, August 25th: Crazy for Books
Monday, August 29th: Rundpinne
Tuesday, August 30th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, August 31st: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Thursday, September 1st: Colloquium
Tuesday, September 6th: Life In Review
Wednesday, September 7th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, September 8th: Laura’s Reviews
Friday, September 9th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read