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The Good Daughters
by Joyce Maynard

Overview -

The bestselling author of Labor Day returns with a spellbinding novel about friendship, family secrets, and the strange twists of fate that shape our lives

The Good Daughters

They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.  Read more...


 
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More About The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard
 
 
 
Overview

The bestselling author of Labor Day returns with a spellbinding novel about friendship, family secrets, and the strange twists of fate that shape our lives

The Good Daughters

They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.

Ruth Plank is an artist and a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life. The last of five girls born to a gentle, caring farmer and his stolid wife, she yearns to soar beyond the confines of the land that has been her family's birthright for generations.

Dana Dickerson is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in the natural world. Raised by a pair of capricious drifters who waste their lives on failed dreams, she longs for stability and rootedness.

Different in nearly every way, Ruth and Dana share a need to make sense of who they are and to find their places in a world in which neither has ever truly felt she belonged. They also share a love for Dana's wild and beautiful older brother, Ray, who will leave an indelible mark on both their hearts.

Told in the alternating voices of Ruth and Dana, The Good Daughters follows these "birthday sisters" as they make their way from the 1950s to the present. Master storyteller Joyce Maynard chronicles the unlikely ways the two women's lives parallel and intersect--from childhood and adolescence to first loves, first sex, marriage, and parenthood; from the deaths of parents to divorce, the loss of home, and the loss of a beloved partner--until past secrets and forgotten memories unexpectedly come to light, forcing them to reevaluate themselves and each other.

Moving from rural New Hampshire to a remote island in British Columbia to the '70s Boston art-school scene, The Good Daughters is an unforgettable story about the ties of home and family, the devastating force of love, the healing power of forgiveness, and the desire to know who we are.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780061994319
  • ISBN-10: 0061994316
  • Publisher: Harpercollins
  • Publish Date: August 2010
  • Page Count: 278


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2010-07-26
  • Reviewer: Staff

Two families, the Planks and the Dickersons, are mysteriously entwined in this exquisite novel that centers on decades of life at a New Hampshire farm. Youngest daughters Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson, born on the same day in the same hospital, take turns narrating the struggles they face as children. Ruth feels a coldness from her mother; Dana is unsettled by her kooky parents constantly uprooting her and her brother Ray. Regardless, the Planks pay a yearly visit to the Dickersons no matter where they've ended up living. As the girls come of age, Ruth takes an interest in art, sex, and Dana's brother, Ray, with whom she later reunites, at Woodstock, in a swirl of drugs and mud. Meanwhile, Dana realizes that her desires are directed toward women and sets off to pursue agricultural studies at a university, where she meets Clarice, an assistant professor. As time goes by, the floundering Plank Farm is in danger of being seized by Ruth's former boyfriend, a man who has had his eye on the land for years. As Ruth and Dana pursue love, contemplate children, and search for home, the truth of what unites their families is finally--at long last--revealed, in this beautifully written book. (Sept.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Two daughters in two very different families

Two baby girls, dubbed by one mother as the “birthday sisters,” are born on the same day in a rural Vermont hospital. Somehow the baby who becomes a tall blonde winds up in a family of short brunettes, while the short brunette finds herself the daughter of a leggy young blonde. Hmm. But suspicious readers shouldn’t be worried—the unfolding of this story is a journey well worth taking.

At the center of the novel are two families, the Planks and the Dickersons. On the surface, they couldn’t be more different. The Plank family has lived on the same piece of Vermont soil for generations—and throughout the scope of the novel (roughly from 1950 through the present day) they face the plight of the small farm trying to compete with corporate supermarkets. Meanwhile the Dickersons seem incapable of staying in one place, and they are thoroughly modern in a way that mystifies the more traditional Planks. But underneath the happy-go-lucky exterior, desperate poverty follows them at every turn.

On July 4, 1950, Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson arrive into their respective families. The story is told in short chapters, alternating perspectives with each protagonist. While occasionally sounding the tiniest bit contrived, the shifting point of view is, on the whole, believable and engrossing. We follow Ruth and Dana from childhood through adulthood, and each emerges as an independent, likable woman, both of whom long to be good daughters while struggling with a nagging sense that something in their families is deeply wrong.

Maynard’s excellent storytelling keeps readers eagerly turning the pages, and she raises some interesting questions along the way: How much of who we are is shaped by our family background? How do our families limit who we may become? Ultimately, Maynard suggests that every family story is fraught with complications—and that it is the responsibility of the good daughter to create her own identity in spite of them.

 

 
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