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The Wilder Sisters Hardcover – May 5, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (May 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060191163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060191160
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,587,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Wilder sisters are as different as two sisters can be. Rose, the elder, passed up college to marry her first love, Philip, and has spent the years raising her kids in the small town of Floralee, New Mexico. Lily, on the other hand, shot right out of college and into the high-powered world of medical sales and the heady thrill of having multiple lovers. But now, as Rose is 40 and Lily is 35, the two share the experience of watching their carefully arranged lives fall apart. Struck by the heartlessness of her job and of her boyfriend, Lily returns home to the family horse ranch for a bit of soul-searching--and finds her sister tackling her own inner demons.

Rose, who's struggling to reestablish herself after the death of her husband, Philip, suddenly finds hope and comfort in a growing friendship with her boss, Austin. Although she falls in love with his inner qualities, Austin remains a depressed, alcoholic mess who pines after his ex-wife. As their relationship evolves, Rose fights to maintain her dignity and preserve her independent identity as Austin shuffles through attempts at sobriety and fidelity. Lily, meanwhile, reunites with her former high school flame Tres but fears this will become yet another meaningless affair.

Understanding that "if you gave up on love, all that was left was money and horses," (and fully appreciating the value of good horseflesh), these two throw themselves after love with equal parts inspiring courage and realistic fear. While the simplicity of Mapson's writing style most often complements the purity of this unadorned plot, the substance of the novel remains the interactions of the two sisters. Readers who enjoy the pleasantly puzzling issues of siblinghood will find the dynamics between these two fascinating. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien

From Booklist

Mapson introduces us to Lily and Rose Wilder, the daughters of a rancher and his beautiful activist spouse. The sisters return to the home ranch as they face their own midlife crises. Lily is tired of her high-powered, travel-intense California sales job and her own taste in men. Rose, recently widowed, nurses a tentative affection for the veterinarian she works for and wonders why her adolescent children turned out so badly. Set in Floralee, New Mexico, the novel is drenched in local color and scent: the landmarks and the scenery nestle naturally into the tale. The sisters wrestle with desire in ways that reflect both their ancient Latina, Navajo, and Anglo heritage and their place in a world that we recognize as now. They wrestle with each other, too, the still-smarting pressures of being the children of strong-minded parents; the pressures of money, or lack of it; and a pervasive cherishing of the dogs and horses that are as close to their lives as their own breath. Above all, though, this is a tasty romance, as Lily rediscovers the man she left behind and Rose lends just enough strength to the veterinarian so he can recover both from his ex-wife and from the bottle. There's great stuff here: luscious sex scenes; hilarious encounters with wayward children; family talk and family sorrow; and a respectful delineation of several kinds of religious faith as a natural part of living. GraceAnne A. DeCandido

More About the Author

Jo-Ann Mapson (1952-) was born in So. California, now lives just outside Santa Fe, NM. Author of 12 novels, winner of the ALA RUSA award for Solomon's Oak, contemporary women's fiction, several Indie Bound selections, and anthologies. She teaches fiction in the MFA in Writing Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her former students include Heather Lende, Judith Ryan Hendricks, and Earlene Fowler. Her papers are being collected in Boston University's Twentieth Century Jo-Ann Mapson's collection. She is married and has a grown son, several rescue Italian greyhounds, and is at work on a new novel. Her website is joannmapson.com.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Mapson's sure hand reveals a story as wild and beautiful as the New Mexico range. She introduces us to the Wilder family, sprung from that land with toungues as sharp as cactus spines and hearts as tough and enduring as the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I loved this novel, and eagerly followed the trials of Rose and Lily, the down to earth daughters of patriarchs Mami and Pop Wilder. This is a marvelous story about love, sibling rivalry and the price one pays for happiness. Ultimately it is about the wanderer finding her way back to the homeland and finally discovering what was once thought to be lost. I highly recommend it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a male reader, I always come away from reading one of Jo-Ann Mapson's books better understanding how women think and feel about love, relationships and....men. In The Wilder Sisters, I particularly enjoyed the family dynamics of Rose and Lily's parents, who operate a horse ranch in Floralee, New Mexico. While there is no actual town of Floralee on the map, I found clues that made me believe we were in Taos--Michael's Restaurant, Sage Bakery, etc. Mapson's strength in painting locales and developing characters is strong and convincing. She doesn't shy away from examining human imperfections, but she doesn't male-bash, either. Austin, the alcoholic vet Rose has a crush on, comes across as a complex, sympathetic character. So does Rose's father, Chance, but I have to say my favorite character was Shep Hallford, the ranch wrangler. In this respect, Mapson's writing belongs right up there with Larry McMurtry--if he wore a skirt.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Mapson's talent continues to expand. How nice that it doesn't have to rush from crisis to crisis to grab the reader's attention. The charatcters are well developed and multi-dimensional. The comment one reader made about it being the "thinking woman's Danielle Steel" is really too trite. This book is much fuller, and I didn't feel my emotions were being manipulated by the story.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Jo-Ann Mapson's books and this is one of the best. She is a wonderful writer who never disappoints me with her stories that truly show the hearts of women. Her women are real and their situations familiar to any woman who has loved a man, a parent, a sibling, a horse or a dog. She gets better and better with each book and I can't wait for each one to come out. I always buy her in hardback because I cannot wait for the paperbacks to come out. I would like to go on a trail ride with her just to hear where some of her marvelous plots come from. I hope she continues to give us more literate, articulate, inspiring and heartful novels. Thanks, Ms. Mapson, for continuing to gift us with your work.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kay on August 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't understand the people who have said they thought this book was slow. I savored every word and didn't want the book to end. Mapson's prose sparkles, and her observations about life, love, and family are witty and funny and oh so true. I also loved the world of the Wilder sisters. The New Mexico setting was wonderfully drawn, and even though I know nothing about horses, I felt a part of that world and understood the feelings of the people in it. This is a wonderful book, the kind I would heartily recommend to my own sisters and daughters. I can't wait to read Ms. Mapson's other books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It has been about five years since the Wilder sisters even spoke to one another. Though he was a philander, Rose is still recovering from the loss of her spouse to a drunken driver two years ago. Though wary of being alone, she is happy that her two adult children are on their own. Rose decides to visit her parent's ranch in nearby Floralee, New Mexico for some tender loving care. Nearly two decades ago, Lily moved to Southern California where she runs a very successful medical equipment business. Lily has had a succession of shallow lovers, which has left her lonely and questioning: is that all there is? She returns to her parents' ranch for some tender loving care.
Though neither sibling is particularly happy to see the other, they begin to rub off on each other. Rose gains the courage to seek out the love of the man she cherishes with all her heart. Lily gains the passion to seek out the man she loves, but left behind. Both males have their own demons so the Wilder sisters know they have their work cut out if they are to attain true happiness.
THE WILDER SISTERS is a superbly drawn character study that allows individuals to grieve, sorrow, and despair their lot in life. The story line centers around four walking wounded souls, whose baggage weighs them down so that relationships never remain healthy. Each of the four protagonists is fully developed as readers can easily trace their motives to their past so that risks to the heart prove difficult. JoAnn Mapson writes a wonderful, warm revealing tale that takes the reader inside the wacky world of emotional turmoil that is must reading for fans of relationship drama.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I love the Wilder Sisters for the great, warm writing, the characters one really cares about, the luminous setting in the last toehold of old New Mexico, and--especially--the sexy sex between adults of a certain age. Bravo Jo Ann Mapson. What a great storyteller.
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