Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blog Tour and Review: The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard

I'm very thankful once again to Trish from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of this tour for the newest novel by Joyce Maynard.  Maynard has proven once again to me that she is an exceptional author.  Here is a summary of The Good Daughters from the Harper Collins website:

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.

My Review:
When I first read the summary of The Good Daughters I figured it would end up being a 'switched at birth' plot, but really it turned out to be a story that  focuses on two girls lives as they struggle trying to find their places in the world.  The chapters alternate between Ruth and Dana, through love, secrets, and loss, as we follow them through their adult lives.

Ruth Plank was born into a family that owned a lucrative farm.  With just her and her sisters, her parents no longer had any hope of passing the farm down to a son as was the custom with previous Plank generations.  Her father accepted this outcome and loved all of his girls equally and was not shy in showing his pride for his lovely family of daughters.  Ruth just cannot understand why her relationship with her mother is such a struggle through her whole life.

Dana Dickerson is born to a family that cannot seem to put roots down in any one area.  She finds herself longing for stability and a place to call home.  The Plank family seems to show up at their doorstep for a visit at least once a year and although the Dickerson's don't look forward to these visits, Dana does enjoy spending time with Edwin, Ruth's father, as he is always generous in sharing agricultural information with her.

As much as Dana enjoys agriculture, Ruth finds an artistic side of her just waiting to burst out of her skin.  She has no desire at all to join her sisters in the farmwork, except for managing the small roadside vegetable stand.  Through the work that she does in the stand she finds a special place in her heart for the farm that helps her develop a closer relationship with her father.

As truths and secrets are revealed in the book I found myself getting angry with Ruth's parents, Edwin and Connie Plank.  Before I knew it, I was all upset with the story as I couldn't imagine the path that Edwin and Connie decided to take.  Connie especially frustrated me as she appeared to be such a God-fearing and strong-willed woman, but then I came to understand why her character reacted the way that she did.  Everything did come full circle for me in this novel that let me find the appreciation that this book deserves.

I think this book would make a great book club selection with themes of love, family, secrets, and loss.  As I was reading it I could only imagine the different comments that would be made from various members of my group.  I did enjoy this novel and I'm confident that many of you would also!

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure my book club would have some interesting things to say about this one too! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Ti said...

I loved her other book, Labor Day and will probably read this one soon.

bermudaonion said...

Like Ti, I loved Labor Day, so I figured this one would be good too. I'm glad to see I'm right.

Anonymous said...

Joyce Maynard became one of my favorite authors after I read her memoir At Home in the World. I definitely want to read this one!

Unknown said...

This sounds like a captivating and absorbing book. Maynard is a terrific writer and there's always something a little extra special in her works.

Thanks for a great review!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I loved this book, and in fact every book Joyce Maynard has written.