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The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel Paperback – Unabridged, May 5, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her light second novel, Clayton chronicles a group of mothers who convene in a Palo Alto park and share their changing lives as the late 1960s counterculture blossoms around them. Linda is a runner who tracks women's progress at the Olympics. Brett has one eye on the moon, where men are living out her astronaut dreams. Southern belle Kath isn't convinced she has dreams outside the confines of her marriage (but she's open to persuasion), while quiet Ally only hopes for what the other women already have: a child. Frankie, a Chicago transplant who has followed her computer genius husband to a nascent Silicon Valley, is the story's narrator and the ladies' ringleader, inspiring them all to follow her dream of becoming a writer. They write in moments snatched from their household chores and share their stories in the park. Though the narration and story lines are so syrupy they verge on hokey, Clayton ably conjures the era's details and captures the women's changing roles in a world that expects little of them. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Set during the summer of 1968 in Palo Alto, California, Clayton’s novel chronicles the lives of five women who conduct a weekly writing group at their neighborhood park. Frankie is an unassuming midwesterner whose inventor husband brings them to the burgeoning Silicon Valley. She meets Linda, the all-American athlete; Kath, the southern belle; Brett, the enigmatic scientist; and Ally, the shy bohemian. The women share their feelings about marriage and motherhood and together mourn the assassination of Robert Kennedy and watch as man walks on the moon and feminists protest the Miss America pageant. They support one another through illness, infertility, racism, and infidelity—and encourage each other through publishers’ rejections. Readers will be swept up by this moving novel about female friendship and enthralled by the recounting of a pivotal year in American history as seen through these young women’s eyes. --Aleksandra Walker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Fifth or Later Edition edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345502833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345502834
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (361 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Meg Waite Clayton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels, including THE RACE FOR PARIS--a story of two journalists hoping to make history by being the first to report the liberation of Paris in the summer of 1944 -- and THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS, one of Entertainment Weekly's 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. Her books have been translated into languages from German to Lithuanian to Chinese. She's written for The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, Writer's Digest, Runner's World, and public radio. A graduate of the University Michigan and its law school, she lives in California.;; @megwclayton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Lesa Holstine on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In a book perfect for book clubs, Meg Waite Clayton tells the story of five young women, wives and mothers, who find each other, and a lifelong friendship, in a children's park in Palo Alto, California. Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally are The Wednesday Sisters, women who support each other in the turbullient, changing years of the late '60s and early '70s.

Mary Frances O'Mara, Frankie, tells the story of five women who share an unspoken dream. When Frankie meets Linda, and then the others, she learns they all love books. Their book discussions eventually turn to a discussion of writing, and a dream no one dares whisper, that of being published someday. So, The Wednesday Sisters are born, when they agree to meet at the picnic tables on Wednesday mornings to write and critique the writing. This honesty about the writing forces them to share other secrets. Over the years, they gradually reveal more to each other. Readers learn early about the death of Linda's mother. But, why does Brett wear white gloves? Each woman will eventually share her deepest fears.

Frankie's voice is the right one to tell the story of five women who grow and change with a changing country. Her story looks back at the early years of lifelong friendship, friendship that grows and reflects changes in the early '70s. The Miss America pageant that links their lives is a perfect vehicle to show the changes in these five women, as well as the country.

I read the first two paragraphs of The Wednesday Sisters, and I knew it would be a wonderful book. Who can resist the second paragraph? "That's us, there in the photograph.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lee A. Smith on August 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
The concept is wonderful: a modern, contemporary woman telling the story of how she and a group of friends became writers back in the late 1960s. It is not a perfect book, but I enjoyed reading it. I think the characters and dialogue are a bit thin. The story of the women's friendship, their personal lives, and their development as writers is told against the backdrop of an incredible time in American history (1968 to 1970). The characters are traditional stay-at-home moms with conservative values, but over the course of those two years, their minds become open to new ideas about the war in Viet Nam, civil rights and feminism. The novel wants us to relate to the characters, and tries to present the five women as complex, well-rounded personalities. Ironically, the characters and dialogue lean toward stereotypes (especially Kath). Additionally, a few premises are unrealistic. I don't want to spoil the story, but if you've already read it, ask yourself how the other women could have believed Carrie to be Ally's daughter, after seeing/meeting Jim. Also, ultimately I found "the gloves" to be unbelievable (think about it... preparing food, changing diapers, holding a pen, doing the dishes... always in white gloves?) Despite these criticisms, I would recommend the book to women, especially women who lived during the time in which the book is set, and those who are writers.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"The Wednesday Sisters look like the kind of women who might meet at those fancy coffee shops on University --- we do look that way --- but we're not one bit fancy, and we're not sisters, either. We don't even meet on Wednesdays anymore, although we did at the beginning."

So begins Meg Waite Clayton's lyrical novel of the friendships forged among five different women who come together by chance. In the tumultuous years of the late 1960s, many females were involved in protest marches opposing the war or fighting for the women's movement. But in suburban Palo Alto, five ladies came together primarily because of their children. Being a mother is the first thing they had in common when they met at Pardee Park in those early days. Soon after, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett and Ally discovered that they all shared a love of books and a secret wish to write themselves. For Frankie --- a recent transplant from Chicago, with her husband and two kids --- to utter a desire out loud, even among friends, was terrifying: "It doesn't seem like much now, I know, to admit ambition to your closest friends. I guess you'll have to take my word for it: it was. It makes me a little sad when I look back on it, to think how very many women didn't have Wednesday Sisters, to wonder who they might have become if they had."

In admitting their passion for writing, the "Wednesday Sisters" begin to nourish lifelong bonds among themselves that transcend their literary goals. Linda, the frank, sometimes tactless one, lives with the fear that the disease that took her mother when she was young might do the same to her: "I grew up the child of a sick mother, and then the child of a dead mother. I couldn't imagine going back to that. I couldn't imagine putting my kids through that.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In the late 1960s the five young mothers meet in Palo Alto at a park. They have plenty in common as they dream of being much more than just a wife and mother while hearing tales of the counter culture and the Summer of Love. The quintet love books especially those they can escape into so they can forget their somewhat tedious lives especially the household chores, but each sees a different role for the lead female characters based on what they dream they wanted.

Linda loves to run with the Olympics her fantasy goal. Brett literally wants to walk on the moon. Kath insists marriage is all she ever desired, but her four new pals with their aspirations make her wonder if there might be something in addition to being wife and mother. Ally, the only one without a child, wants a kid or three. The leader Midwesterner Frankie, who came to California as her husband came here to work at the fledgling computer business, hopes to be come a writer. THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS inspire each other to go after their aspirations and much more even when they seem impossible in a man's only world by writing and sharing their tales.

This historical sisterhood tale is an engaging look at the beginning of the "You've come a long way baby" feminist movement that brought women into many fields previously taboo epitomized by Hilary's run (the next one will go all the way). Each of the five women seems real due to their dreams to be more than identified through their husband and kids. Although their individual writings are too sweet even if they read valid for their place in late 1960s society, fans will enjoy this fine tale as before Sally Ride there was a real Brett out there trying to break out of the box.

Harriet Klausner
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