Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

When I found out I would be receiving this book from Library Thing Early Reviewers, I kind of wondered what it was that made me request it in the first place. That's not to say that the premise didn't sound interesting to me or that I wasn't very eager to finally get a fiction book from them (has anybody else been noticing a trend toward memoirs here?'s not over). I mean, it sounds fluffy, it sounds like a feel good book. I'm categorically against fluff and when asked to recommend a feel-good book, I usually find myself completely unable to (yes, this has actually happened) because, it happens, I just don't read them.

So I approached The Wednesday Sisters with interest and, admittedly, some trepidation. Here is the story of five friends meeting together in a local park where their kids play. It's the 1960s and while women have made some strides away from more traditional roles, they aren't quite "liberated" yet and they've still been trained to believe that they belong in the house with the kids and that their dreams should play second fiddle to their husbands' dreams. Clayton's writing proceeds with the breezy ease that comes with a book that would make for good company at the beach. The easy, simple writing style is deceptive, however, as there is just so much here. This is a tale of grown women coming of age. Despite their being out of school and having husbands and children, these women don't yet know themselves or where they belong in a time and place fraught with changes.

As the five decide to turn their Wednesday conversations at the park into a more serious time of writing and critiquing each other's work, Clayton brings their quest to know themselves and each other to life. Through their writing, the women slowly get to know the most intimate truths about each other and begin to realize some things about themselves in the process. As Frankie, Linda, Brett, Ally, and Kath take their dreams down off the shelf where they were relegated when marriage and children came along and simultaneously face the struggles and trials of everyday life, they are forced to find out just what they are made of and how far they will go to be there for each other.

Clayton offers an insightful depiction of an uneasy time in history when women were struggling both to maintain the sort of feminine expectations their mothers had modeled for them and to take hold of new opportunities to pursue their own dreams and break free of the stereotypes of what a woman should and should not be. Clayton's book asks the questions about womanhood that continue to be relevant today, questions about what really makes a woman. A child? A family? A career? A dream?

What emerges is a heartwarming tale of the friendship of five women who seem to be meeting and defining themselves for the first time in an era when having a child might still define a woman but so could being a surgeon or even an astronaut. This is an easy read, but don't let it fool you. There's a deeper story here than what meets the eye.


  1. Awesome review! I'm with you, I don't read "fluff" either.

  2. I have this one on my shelf to read (although not a LT copy) and am looking forward to it.

    I do read fluff sometimes if the mood strikes. And I do like feel good books now and then as well.

  3. I'm not a big "fluff" reader either, but sometimes I need a book that doesn't make me think much. (Enter James Patterson and Sophie Kinsella)

    Thanks for this review. This book sounds like something I'd enjoy.

    --Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

  4. Fabulous review, Megan! I don't think this book would caught my eye otherwise, but you've left me wanting to add it to the old wish list.

  5. What a true review! I have also wondered "why did I request this" ... I think sometimes I'm like a kid in a candy store with the ER books and I need to be more selective about what I'm willing/wanting to read.

    Thanks for the review; this is on my wish list.

  6. Thanks for the great review. I've heard nothing but good things about this book, and although it's not my usual genre, I decided to pick it up. I can't wait to get started on it.

    I'm always amused when I get a book and think, "Huh? I requested this? And they picked me for it?" Fortunately that's only happened a couple of times, and both times I did enjoy the book.

  7. I don't consider myself a big reader of fluff, but it does help to cleanse the literary palate from time to time - glad to hear it was a good one, I may have to add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

  8. Thanks everybody for the kind words about the review - hope you all get a chance to read it and enjoy it as much as I did!

    I do agree that there is a time and place for some fluff. It's nice on occasion to park myself in a chair and read something that can be finished in a day and has a satisfying (if predictable) ending. I'm happy to say that I do now have some slightly fluffier, more feel-good type books in my repertoire should anyone every require a recommendation! By and large, I don't read very "happy" books, but when a good one comes along - it's always a good thing!

    Ruth and fondofbooks, I don't know what it is about Early Reviewers that turns me into a blithering idiot. It's like I can't control my hand on the mouse and click on anything that looks even marginally interesting. Luckily, I haven't read a *real* dud from ER yet, so I guess the LT algorithm must know some stuff about me and my library that even I fail to recognize! LOL!