Friday 28 June 2019

The Girls of August

Finished June 24
The Girls of August by Anne River Siddons, read by Kate Reading

This is a story of friendship. Maddy, Rachel, Barbara, and Melinda used to get together every summer for a week at the ocean. The first year, Melinda wasn't part of the group as Teddy's first wife, a wealthy socialite hosted the party. Now they haven't met for three years, ever since Melinda was killed in a car accident, when Teddy was driving. The others haven't completely forgiven Teddy. When the women first met, their husband's were interns, on their way to beginning their own medical practices. Maddy was a schoolteacher, volunteering at the hospital to get out of the house.
Now, twenty-odd years into their friendship, Teddy has remarried, and convinces the women to let his new wife host the get-together at her family home on an island off the South Carolina coast. There are a couple of catches. One is that Teddy's new wife Baby is younger, much younger, only twenty-two herself. The other is that logistics mean that this year the get-together will be for two weeks, not one.
Maddy is intrigued by the island. She knows that Dan's family had a home on the island before she met him, one that was lost in a hurricane and never replaced. Dan doesn't talk about the island much. The women have had different life experiences, despite their friendship. Maddy quit teaching a few years back after she and Dan weren't able to have children. She couldn't face seeing other people's every day. She became a sought-after caterer, and grew close to her niece, now readying for college in the fall. Melinda and Teddy didn't have children either, but both Barbara and Rachel did.
As the vacation begins, Maddy tries to run interference between her friends and Baby, as their resentment of the younger woman grows. There is a fair chunk of bad behaviour going on here, with the older woman treating Baby like an empty-headed arm-candy trophy-wife, married for her sex appeal. Baby holds onto politeness for a lot longer than I think I would, but sulks and loses her temper a few times too.
It was interesting to watch as the women deal with their issues, learn more about each other, and about Baby's relationship with the island's locals, and deal with the unfortunate events that the time on the island bring them.
This is a novel of getting past first impressions and pre-conceived notions. A novel of friendship and love.

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