Review: The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard

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“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.”

Once again I have been entranced by the writing of Joyce Maynard. Awhile back I reviewed Labor Day and many people remarked upon how I found a book with such a stirring plot to be a “comfort book” and I cannot help but say it once again. There is something about the way that Maynard writes that draws me in and lulls me gently into a reading place of comfort and peace. I find myself writing down passage after passage in my book journal…chiding myself that I might as well just write down the whole book itself. Her stories unfold almost of their own accord naturally not as if planned or plotted. They are coaxed knowingly and lovingly along by her prose and I find the gentle rhythms soothing. Her tales are also incredibly well written and orchestrated. It’s as if you think you know where the twist or turn may lead but she still manages to surprise even the veteran reader in some way, shape or form. The Good Daughters is no exception to this rule. It is a must read and for myself one that I will absolutely be reading again. Maynard is becoming one of my go-to authors when I need a guaranteed good read and a “comfort book” as well.

A Few Favorite Passages

“There is something about the act of studying an unclothed body, as an artist does, that allows a person to appreciate it as pure form, regardless of all the kinds of traits traditionally regarded as imperfections. In a figure drawing class, an obese woman’s folds of flesh take on a kind of beauty. You can look at a man’s shrunken chest or legs or buttocks with tenderness. Age is not ugly, just poignant.

“To me it sometimes seemed as if my brother was missing a crucial layer of skin other people had that allowed them to get through their day when he could not.”

“If a person doesn’t move your heart, there’s not a thing your head can do about that.”



2 Comments

Filed under Adult Books, Contests, New Books

2 responses to “Review: The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard

  1. I’m so relieved to see you loved this since I loved Labor Day too!

  2. Pingback: #306 ~ The Good Daughters : literatehousewife.com

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