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 intersectfrom 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 partneruntil 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.
B e a n p o l e
My father told me I was a hurricane baby. This didnt mean I was
born in the middle of one. July 4, 1950, the day of my birth, fell well
before hurricane season.
He meant I was conceived during a hurricane. Or in its aftermath. Stop that, Edwin, my mother would say, if she overheard him saying this. To my mother, Connie, anything to do with sex, or its consequences (namely, my birth, or at least the idea of linking my birth to the sex act), was not a topic for discussion.
But if she wasnt around, hed tell me about the storm, and how hed been called out to clear a fallen tree off the road, and how fierce the rain had been that night, how wild the wind. I didnt get to France in the war like my brothers, he said, but it felt like I was doing battle, fighting those hundred-mile-an-hour gusts, he told me. And heres the funny thing about it. Those times a person feels most afraid ...
Joyce Maynard's ability to define her characters - their vulnerability, their dimensionality, their flaws their strengths, their resolve to do the best they can - grabs hold, completely captivating us. We follow the lives of both Dana and Ruth as chapters alternate between the two girls' voices, watching them grow from children into women... Maynard's previous novel, Labor Day, dealt with how the choices we make define our own lives. With The Good Daughters, she explores how decisions we make impact the lives of others; like a stone sent skimming across still water, the ripples continue on long after the stone itself has sunk.
(Reviewed by BJ Nathan Hegedus).
Full Review (910 words).
Joyce Maynard always seems to incorporate fresh produce and cooking into her stories, with a special affinity for baking. A scene in The Good Daughters includes freshly baked biscuits from scratch and ripened strawberries, while the preparation of a peach pie in Labor Day provides one of the most poignant moments in the book.
Having taught the art of pie making to scores of people over the years, here are some of Maynard's tips for creating the perfect pie:
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