Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: The Good Daughters & Giveaway

Summary: 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. -- William Morrow

Last year, I reviewed a very good book called LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard. It was the first book that I had ever read by Ms. Maynard, and I was very much impressed with her writing and storytelling abilities. I immediately placed her name on my need-to-read author list (I also had high hopes of going back and reading her backlist, but you know how that goes!)  A few months back, I learned that she had written another novel called THE GOOD DAUGHTERS, and I knew I wanted to read it!

I am very happy to say that THE GOOD DAUGHTERS did not disappoint. In fact, I really, really enjoyed this novel. As was the case in LABOR DAY, I thought Ms. Maynard wrote a wonderful story that managed to capture my interest (and heart) from the start. The characters are memorable and the book just spoke to me because it was so incredibly honest and real. Overall, I thought it was a wonderful read and one that I couldn't put down.

THE GOOD DAUGHTERS is the story of two girls (and eventually women) who were born on the same day -- Ruth and Dana. The novel follows both girls from the 1950 to the present, and the reader gets a very personal look at each of their lives. Their stories are told in alternating chapters in each woman's voice, and I have to say that I loved that the story unfolded in this way. As a reader, I felt as if I got to really know and understand each woman, and I found that both women were so incredibly honest with their stories.

I found both Ruth and Dana to be extremely interesting, and often times flawed, characters. Throughout both of their lives, they had to deal with difficult family situations as well as complex relationship issues. Ruth and Dana were pretty much total opposites from outside appearances, yet I appreciated how similar their stories were. Despite their very different personalities as well as life choices, many events in their lives seemed to almost parallel each other. I was extremely impressed with how well Ms. Maynard compared and contrasted the characters' stories because I felt the presentation style really made this novel.

There is no doubt that I enjoyed the characters in THE GOOD DAUGHTERS as well as how Ms. Maynard told the story; however, I want to share with you how much this book touched my heart. Because the characters were so well-developed, I think I became very caught up in the ups and downs of their lives. Often times, my heart went out to both Ruth and Dana, but I also found myself questioning their decisions and even wanting to shake them at times. I believe that the characters were acting in such an honest way that I felt as if they were real people. I honestly can't say that about every book that I read!

I think because I did feel so vested in the characters that I found the ending of the book to be satisfying -- although I admit that I wasn't totally surprised. I don't want to give away anything, but I will say that I definitely liked how the story came full-circle, and once again, I was really impressed with how Ms. Maynard had each of the characters react to their discovery. I felt as if their actions were genuine and in keeping with how the characters evolved throughout the story.

I think THE GOOD DAUGHTERS would be a wonderful book club pick. It really does touch upon a lot of themes that women are going to relate to. I was excited to find that there is already a reading guide

As you can clearly see, I thought THE GOOD DAUGHTERS was a wonderful read, and Joyce Maynard is definitely an author whose books and characters really resonate with me. If you are a fan of women's fiction and highly emotional novels, then I suggest taking a look at THE GOOD DAUGHTERS.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.

Giveaway alert: I have one copy of THE GOOD DAUGHTERS to share with one lucky reader! To enter, just fill out the form below -- that's it! I will accept entries until November 2, 1010 at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you in the US and Canada only. Good luck!


Sandy Nawrot said...

Sometimes I feel like I am so far behind and I'll never get caught up. I've been wanting to read Labor Day forever, and now this one. If the characters touched you this much, I want to be a part of it.

bermudaonion said...

I'm dying to read this book because I LOVED Labor Day. I'm so glad to see this book is that good - I've got to make the time to get to it!

Beth Hoffman said...

This book has been on my list for a few weeks and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

See you tomorrow night ... WOOT!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Sandy I feel so far behind in my reading. I won Labor Day for Book Club Girl but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I really do want to read The Good Daughters. I've always had an interest in Maynard because of the whole JD Salinger relationship so I'll think I'll have to move these books up.

Jo-Jo said...

This sounds like a great book and I loved Labor Day so I know I would love this one too! I entered your contest but I think I pushed enter to soon so you didn't get my whole address. Just let me know if you want me to enter it again.

Beth F said...

Sounds like a must-read to me. I haven't yet read Labor Day (I own it!) but I've heard only great things about it, and now you have me dying to read this one -- The women are only a few years older than I am, so I know I will be able to relate.

Anonymous said...

Will have to read, sounds good, thanks

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this one as well! Great review.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This does sound like a good book club fit! I have yet to read Labor Day but have heard so many good things about it!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Ditto to what Sandy said (and here I thought I was the only person left to read LABOR DAY!)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I still need to read Labor Day, too. And nine of her other books. Ouch.

No need to enter me, as always. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book.

Unknown said...

The Good Daughters sounds like a wonderful read and I would like to do so. I've not read this author's writings before, and I plan to rectify that mistake asap. Thank you for this giveaway and the chance to win this book. I hope I do!

Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

J.T. Oldfield said...

Thanks for the give away. This sounds like, but nothing like, Midnight's Children. (Kids born on the same day, sharing a bond).

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one sounds so good. Thanks for offering it as a giveaway!