Title: The Good Daughters
Author: Joyce Maynard
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Hardcover: 288 pages
The Good Daughters
They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.
Ruth Plank is an artist and a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life. The last of five girls born to a gentle, caring farmer and his stolid wife, she yearns to soar beyond the confines of the land that has been her family’s birthright for generations.
Dana Dickerson is a scientist and realist whose faith is firmly planted in the natural world. Raised by a pair of capricious drifters who waste their lives on failed dreams, she longs for stability and rootedness.
Different in nearly every way, Ruth and Dana share a need to make sense of who they are and to find their places in a world in which neither has ever truly felt she belonged. They also share a love for Dana’s wild and beautiful older brother, Ray, who will leave an indelible mark on both their hearts.
Told in the alternating voices of Ruth and Dana, The Good Daughters follows these “birthday sisters” as they make their way from the 1950s to the present. Master storyteller Joyce Maynard chronicles the unlikely ways the two women’s lives parallel and intersect—from childhood and adolescence to first loves, first sex, marriage, and parenthood; from the deaths of parents to divorce, the loss of home, and the loss of a beloved partner—until past secrets and forgotten memories unexpectedly come to light, forcing them to reevaluate themselves and each other.
Moving from rural New Hampshire to a remote island in British Columbia to the ’70s Boston art-school scene, The Good Daughters is an unforgettable story about the ties of home and family, the devastating force of love, the healing power of forgiveness, and the desire to know who we are.
Heart breaking, beautiful, and life affirming, The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard tells the story of Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson, known as the birthday sisters. On July 4, 1950 at the peak of strawberry season in Bellersville Hospital, Edwin and Connie Plank welcomed their 5th daughter into the world and two hours later, the Dickersons were greeting their second child and their first daughter. Maynard writes a beautiful, moving novel, and from the beginning it is fairly obvious what will eventually be confirmed, however knowing does not detract from the story. The heart of The Good Daughters consists of the stories told through Ruth and Dana, two women who have lived dramatically different lives, yet each learned so very much from Edwin Plank, the lessons they have each accumulated over their respective fifty plus years of life, love, loss, and family. I found myself deeply engrossed in each woman’s story and noticed I particularly looked forward to the sections where Dana’s voice came through as I formed quite a fondness for Dana and her life with Clarice. The Good Daughters is rich in detailed prose and an absolute delight to read even through the sadness and hardships told by Ruth and Dana. I would recommend The Good Daughters to anyone who is interested in reading a beautiful novel. A word of caution, the reader may want to keep some tissues close at hand.
I received a complimentary copy of The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard from Harper Collins to review. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.