Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Girls of August

Title:  The Girls of August
Author:  Anne River Siddons
Publication Information:  Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group. 2014. 223 pages.
ISBN:  0446527955 / 978-0446527958

Book Source:  I read this book because I have enjoyed the author's work in the past but have not read one of her books in a long while.

Favorite Quote:  "I do believe that each of us slept the whole night through without our real lives interrupting our dreams."

The Girls of August should probably be titled The Mean Girls of August. That is how the book reads. The "girls" are Maddy, Rachel, Barbara, and Melinda. They met and became friends years ago.  They spend a week together in August every year. It started on a whim, but became a longtime tradition between the friends.

However, Melinda passed away, and the girls of August have not met in a while. And now comes the introduction of someone new - Baby has married Melinda's husband. She offers the August girls the use of her island vacation home for a reunion. They accept the vacation, but are much less accepting of Baby.

The open minded view says that the other three women agree to the vacation because they are willing to give Baby a chance. The cynical view says that she offers them a private island getaway, and they decide to enjoy it despite her.

Baby starts off with many strikes against her. She is lovely, young, and enthusiastic - more so than the other three.  She is new to the group. She has taken over the place, that in the mind of the other three, belongs to Melinda. The other three have a lot of history with her husband, which transfers to their relationship with her.

All four women come to the island with their own secrets and their own heartaches. Yet, Maddy, Rachel, and Barbara all gang up on Baby and essentially behave like sophomoric mean girls. The problem is that these are grown women with life experiences, families, and careers - they should know better and they should behave better.

This book is short at only a little over 200 pages. The story is rushed and not much of a story at all. The mean girls unite against the new girl. New girl perseveres. Repeat. Repeat some more. Insert some big melodramatic events that may or may not change relationships. Repeat. The end. That's it.

The book is melodramatic from beginning to end. The problems that the girls bring with them are predictable - mourning, illness, marriage, children. The reactions are also expected - anger, alcohol, and resentment - and described at a very shallow level.

The characters are really undeveloped. In fact, the characters of Barbara and Rachel are such that I had trouble keep them and their problems straight. In their wallowing and meanness, all three of the "girls of August" are not particularly likable.

My favorite character of the book, perhaps, is Baby.  Her position of being the new one in a group and of trying to create friendships is perhaps the most interesting especially since the other three have such a strong bond and have been through so much together. The quote from the book movie Dirty Dancing, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," runs through my mind, but in this book, Baby is definitely in a corner.

Unfortunately, the book never shares her perspective or develops her background or personality until the very end. By then, I want to know more about her, but the book ends.

I have not read a book by Anne River Siddons in a long while, but I do remember enjoying the books. I remember the stories and the characters having some depth and a lot of warmth. This one has none of that. A disappointing re-introduction to the author's work.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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