Excerpt from The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Good Daughters

A Novel

by Joyce Maynard

The Good Daughters
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 288 pages
    Sep 2011, 304 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BJ Nathan Hegedus

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Back in the days of reel-to-reel tapes, he created a recording studio to work on his demos, in what had been the garage of the house we rented, this time in Connecticut. I wasn’t sure the owner of the house would appreciate it that my father cut a hole in the garage door to let in more light, never mind what he was going to do in wintertime, when it would get pretty chilly in that uninsulated garage.

By winter the checks would have started rolling in, George told me. Then he could get himself a real place to work on his music, and things like an electric organ. We might even move to Nashville, he said. That’s where the action was in country music.

Even then, I knew this wasn’t happening, as did Val and my brother probably, though I was the one in the family with the firmest grasp on reality. Even as a kid, I always had the ability to see down the line to where trouble lay, or truth. George used to complain that I expected the worst out of life, but it wasn’t that. I simply recognized that just because the sun was shining one day didn’t mean it would the next. Frost would come, and so would snow. The fact of rain did not rule out the possibility of drought. You could call it pessimism. I based my attitudes on what I saw in the world around me. Not what I dreamed up.

“Dana has her feet firmly grounded on earth,” one of my teachers wrote about me on a report card. I remembered this because to me it seemed like the nicest kind of compliment, but I could see that for my mother, this was a disappointment.

“Don’t you ever want to use your imagination?” she said, but I was more the type who based her thinking on what was real—the things I could touch and see.

I was not one to believe, the way my father did, that things would always turn out the way you wanted them to, or—like my mother—that we should surround ourselves only with what was beautiful. Life wasn’t like that. Even as a child, I knew and accepted this.

I think I always had an understanding of the seasons and recognized that all of them—winter as much as summer, fall as much as spring—were necessary to sustain the cycle of life. I might be the youngest, but I kept track of the bills. Where the others whistled in the dark, I considered how we might get by in the event of a worst-case scenario. From what I’d seen of the world, those were far more likely to take place than the paydays George kept expecting.

I loved my brother, Ray. He was the only one in our family who showed me a certain interest, for a while there anyway. But I understood that I was the only truly reasonable person living under whatever roof happened to be sheltering us that season.

Except for one uncle, we saw no relatives. No cousins. There was one grandparent that I met one time and one time only. All I knew of my heritage was George’s story: that his father had performed in silent movies, where he met my grandmother—the woman, he told us, who had posed for that image we saw at the beginning of every movie made by Columbia Pictures to this day. He called her a legendary beauty of Hollywood. He said she could stop traffic with her amazing body, well into her sixties.

Traffic? What traffic? My grandparents had lived in Vermont. Due to some kind of falling-out that had something to do with my mother, though we never got the details, I met my grandma only once, when I was five or six, but in distant memory she was an ordinary-looking person who served us meat loaf and called my father Georgie.

George was a fair-weather type. He wanted every day to be sunny, and never believed, as long as it was, that the sky would ever darken again, as it always did over the broad green horizons he imagined for us all. He liked the idea of having children and being a father, but only long enough to cook up some project for us, which he’d forget about shortly after.

Excerpted from The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard. Copyright © 2010 by Joyce Maynard. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Perfect Pie

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.