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Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Novel Hardcover – April 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1ST edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006112219X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061122194
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,165,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Noble (The Reading Group) hits her stride in her tearjerker fourth novel. Before Barbara Forbes, a mother of four, succumbs to terminal cancer, she leaves words of wisdom for her four daughters in the form of letters to each of them. In the year following Barbara's death, her daughters draw strength from her words and from each other as they move forward with their lives. Lisa, the eldest, is advised to "let someone look after [her]" for a change. Jennifer, "fragile and hard to reach," struggles with an unraveling marriage. Free-spirited Amanda is thrown for a loop by a family secret, and teenaged Hannah, experiencing her first taste of rebellion, is reminded that she still has a lot of growing up to do. Though Barbara's life-is-short aphorisms are nothing new, her sharp wit and distinctive voice is a nice complement to the four nuanced stories of coping with death. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The terrible impact of bodies falling from the sky, the shrill thwack of a golf ball hit out-of-bounds, the elusively tender caress upon a faithful dog’s head. Such tactile, sensory imagery infuses Amend’s lustrous collection of short fiction that celebrates the forlorn and isolated, the disgruntled and misunderstood, the least guarded and most apprehensive among us. With sly humor and subtle insight, Amend traces the uncertain trajectory of love from devotion to deception, blossom to breakup, through relationships both casual and deep. An inner-city schoolteacher tries desperately to break down the barriers between insensitivity and empathy in “Dominion over Every Erring Thing,” while a writer of cybererotica is surprised by a callous lack of loyalty in “The People You Know Best.” In a world where husbands begrudgingly support wives and sisters inexplicably betray brothers, where lovers appear and disappear at whim, Amend’s dialogue is crisp and pure, her observations nuanced and keen, her understanding of the human condition buoyant and clear. --Carol Haggas

Customer Reviews

I did not love this, but neither did I hate it, I was just disappointed.
LindyLouMac
She'd rather focus on her happier hospital stays in the maternity ward (she describes her daughters' births as "the four very best days of my life").
Bookreporter
I guess what got me was that the way that some of the characters were depicted was just not very sympathetic.
Obsidian Blue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kathy K VINE VOICE on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although I liked "Things I Want My Daughters to Know," I didn't love it. As a daughter who lost my own mother at an early age, some of the story felt too artificial to me and the pat, happy endings for all the main characters were just a tad too unrealistic for me. Where I feel the author went wrong was by commencing this book in medias res (in the middle of things), after the mother has already died. As a result, the reader never gets the opportunity to genuinely experience the bond between mother and daughters. Therefore, an emotional disconnect exists.

What Noble does extremely well, though, is develop believable characters. In each of the daughters I could see shades of myself and how I dealt with the grief of losing my own mom. Lisa, the oldest, is "too strong for her own good" and afraid to let anyone love her. Jennifer, "proud and intent on emotional independence," strangles herself in love relationships that have long run their course. Amanda, the free spirit, uses travel as a means of escaping the real world. And Hannah, the teen who loses her mother far too soon, struggles to become a woman without her maternal role model to guide her.

In summation, "Things I Want My Daughters to Know" is a good book to pass a lazy afternoon, but it's not one I'd put on my list of all-time favorites.
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Format: Hardcover
As the once full-of-life Barbara Forbes is being treated for terminal cancer, she begins a journal of things that she wishes to share with her four daughters. She also writes each of her daughters an individual letter to be opened only after her death. There is Lisa, the oldest and most like her, full of life yet stubborn, too; Jennifer, married but obviously unhappy although refusing to talk to anyone about it; Amanda, the daughter who Barbara always considered her "own," as no father was around to raise her; and Hannah, Barbara's late-in-life baby, now left alone with her father, Barbara's grieving and lost second husband, Mark.

The book opens on the day of Barbara's funeral, and so the reader gets to know Barbara only through her writings. The story is told from varying perspectives in turn, including that of Mark in addition to each daughter. Initially, everyone seems to be coping as well as can be expected with Barbara's death (which was anticipated, after all) but it doesn't take long for the delicate surface to begin to give way. Each daugther must wrestle with her own demons, negotiating her own way without her beloved mother for advice and support. Eventually--and with the help of Mark, who plays a crucial role--the family is able to survive their various conflicts and emerge on the dawn side of grief. In the end, the message of this book is a simple one, if a somewhat cliched one: that love conquers all, whether it is a mother's love for her daughters, the love between sisters, or the romantic love that binds two people together forever. Overall, a worthwhile read.
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Format: Hardcover
There should be a sophisticated, respectful term for novels that are for and about women but that don't belong to the cynical-singles, brand-name-plastered shop-and-shag genre often dubbed chick lit. Although both types tend to have pastel covers, the books I'm talking about (call them sisterhood lit) are like THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA's older sibs: more mature, less brittle --- though not necessarily less fun.

Fun is an odd word to apply to Elizabeth Noble's new work of fiction, THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO KNOW, given the lugubrious-sounding setup. Quirky, beautiful, high-spirited Barbara contracts a terminal disease and dies, leaving Mark, her devoted second husband, and her four girls to fend for themselves. But wait. Like everything Noble writes, this novel is comfort food in book form, reassuring even when it is desperately sad. By the time you've spent a year in the company of Barbara's family, you've laughed as well as wept, and when the characters achieve a sort of closure about their loss, so do you.

Female bonding has been Noble's territory from her first book, THE READING CLUB, and on through THE FRIENDSHIP TEST and ALPHABET WEEKENDS (okay, in that case the main friendship is with a guy, but many of the same principles apply). Here she focuses on four sisters (shades of LITTLE WOMEN!) who exemplify the intimate joys and rivalries of an (almost) all-female household. Each struggles differently with the conundrum of how to carry on after Barbara's death, yearning for love but also apt to run away from it.

Lisa, the eldest, has a terrific boyfriend but is suspicious of commitment. Jennifer, married but unhappy (and rather a wet blanket when we first meet her), isn't sure that she wants to have kids --- or even that she still loves her husband.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By NK on May 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. I could not put it down. As a mother, I was moved by Barbara's need to leave something for her girls. The characters are very complicated and the author gives great insight to each of them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jodi L. Stewart on May 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is definetly one of those books that you don't want to put down. Enjoyed reading it very much. This story has inspired me to keep a journal for my children to give them years to come.
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More About the Author

Elizabeth Noble is the internationally bestselling author of The Reading Group, The Friendship Test, Alphabet Weekends, and Things I Want My Daughters to Know. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two daughters.

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