Friday, September 12, 2014

Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

Reviewed by Kristin

Summer may be almost over, but The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons is lingering in my mind.  Maddy, Rachel, Barbara and Melinda are the somewhat stereotypical doctor's wives who have been friends since medical school days.  Their tradition has been always to take a week in August for a beach vacation.  No husbands, no kids, just the women.

The problem with continuing the tradition is that Melinda was killed in a car accident a few years ago, and none of the other women have been able to bring themselves together to continue the beach tradition with such a vital character missing.  When Melinda's husband gets engaged to an extremely young woman who everyone calls Baby, the women are strongly encouraged to take advantage of Baby's family home on an isolated barrier island off the coast of South Carolina.

Maddy, Rachel and Barbara are all forty-ish with well established connections to each other and strong opinions on everyone around them.  Each of them is going through some major life problems and at first are reluctant to share their issues even with their dearest friends.  Of course, throwing a twenty-two year old into the mix may have something to do with the initial shakiness of their rapport on this trip.  At first, Baby is practically run over by the older women, but soon shows some backbone and maturity.

Now I have to admit that a girls beach vacation sounds like an appealing idea, although one that perhaps has been done previously in a book or two or twenty.  In fact, I reviewed All The Summer Girls by Meg Donohue earlier in the summer, and it was somewhat similar: title, plot, well—you get the idea.  Siddons' writing is so elegant that the business of reading was pleasurable, but there was just a little something missing.  At only 240 pages, the story felt somewhat half-hearted and underdeveloped.  I think part of the reason that the book is lingering in my mind is that there was so much potential for further character development and a longer story.

I have always enjoyed Anne Rivers Siddons as she evokes the very atmosphere of the South.  While this book was not one of her best, I would still recommend it for any reader willing to take it as it is: a short, poignant story of friends reunited after a tragedy, who find courage and strength in each other.

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