Summary and book reviews of Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen

Rise and Shine

by Anna Quindlen

Rise and Shine
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 288 pages

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Book Summary

A superb novel about two sisters, the true meaning of success, and the qualities in life that matter most.

From Anna Quindlen, acclaimed author of Blessings, Black and Blue, and One True Thing, a superb novel about two sisters, the true meaning of success, and the qualities in life that matter most.

It's an otherwise ordinary Monday when Meghan Fitzmaurice's perfect life hits a wall. A household name as the host of Rise and Shine, the country's highest-rated morning talk show, Meghan cuts to a commercial break–but not before she mutters two forbidden words into her open mike.

In an instant, it's the end of an era, not only for Meghan, who is unaccustomed to dealing with adversity, but also for her younger sister, Bridget, a social worker in the Bronx who has always lived in Meghan's long shadow. The effect of Meghan's on-air truth telling reverberates through both their lives, affecting Meghan's son, husband, friends, and fans, as well as Bridget's perception of her sister, their complex childhood, and herself. What follows is a story about how, in very different ways, the Fitzmaurice women adapt, survive, and manage to bring the whole teeming world of New York to heel by dint of their smart mouths, quick wits, and the powerful connection between them that even the worst tragedy cannot shatter.

From time to time some stranger will ask me how I can bear to live in New York City. Sometimes it happens when I am on vacation, passing the time in a buffet line filled with the sunburned and the semidrunk. Sometimes it comes up at a professional conference, drinking coffee in the corner of a hotel meeting room with a clutch of social workers, most of them wearing the dirndl skirts and dangling earrings of the socially conscious woman of a certain age. My aunt's friends will ask, although they live only a half hour north, up the Saw Mill Parkway, but in a state of bucolic isolation that might as well be Maine.

Even in New York itself I will sometimes hear the question, from the ld men on the Coney Island boardwalk who knew Irving Lefkowitz when he was a bar mitzvah boy and who, from their benches on the Brooklyn beach, envision the long and slender island of Manhattan as an urban Titanic, sinking beneath the weight of criminals, homosexuals, and atheists, ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Rise and Shine centers on the unique bond of sisterhood–potentially one of the most supportive, competitive, and difficult relationships in life. Describe Bridget and Meghan's relationship and how each woman views her sister, and herself. What roles do they each play? Does this portrait of sisterhood reflect your own relationship with a sibling, or perhaps with a close friend? Do you identify with one of the Fitzmaurice sisters more than the other?
  2. Meghan's audacious on-air slip, and its repercussions, incites the novel's forward action. How would you judge the seasoned anchorwoman's mistake? Was she wrong to let her personal opinion and emotions show? Do you believe that the network's reaction was ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Strong on characterization but weaker on plot, Rise and Shine is a tale of two sisters and one city. A fun, mildly contrived, satirical New York tale, with a family drama at its heart.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (524 words).

Media Reviews

Los Angeles Times - Susan Salter Reynolds

The biggest problem with this novel -- which is very entertaining, more so if you recognize all the stages of success than if you don't -- is that it takes on the shape of a doughnut, built around a character, Meghan, who isn't worth the attention .... Even fairy tales used to have more depth than that.

Publishers Weekly

The prose is top-notch; readers may be more interested in Quindlen's insights than in the lives of her two main characters.

The Post-Dispatch - Patricia Corrigan

[The] lyricism and several fully drawn characters make Rise and Shine well worth reading.

The Washington Post - Carolyn See

Anna Quindlen has developed an enormously likable writing voice, and by telling her tale through the humble voice of an unassuming naif, she allows her readers the illusion that we all might live securely within the velvety pink confines of the New York maw, safely out of the way of those silver teeth. She makes the city accessible and downright neighborly.

Library Journal

Best-selling author Quindlen has created a thoroughly engaging story peppered with memorable characters, who are humorously and touchingly drawn. Highly recommended.

Booklist - Carol Haggas

Quindlen pens a lavishly perceptive homage to the city she loves, while her transcendentally agile and empathic observations of the human condition underlie the Fitzmaurice sisters' discovery of the transience of fame and the permanence of family.

Reader Reviews

Maureen

Another great Anna Quindlen book
Thoroughly enjoyed this book about the relationship between sisters after one of them ends up in hot water and how it affects the rest of her family. I would recommend this book very highly. It would be a great book club pick.

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Beyond the Book

Q: In dreaming up this novel, what came to you first: the sisters, the setting, or Megan's on-air slip? And how did your storyline evolve from there?

Anna Quindlen: I always begin a novel with a theme. Black and Blue, for instance, began with the theme of identity, Blessings with the theme of redemption. Rise and Shine grew out of constant thoughts about the disconnect in modern American life between appearance and reality. The more I thought about that disconnect, about how we've all come to believe that what looks good is good, the more I thought I should write about someone famous. That's where the dissonance is greatest, it...

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