The Girls of August
With majestic reverie, Anne Rivers Siddons has created a contemporary novel of friendship and hope, in which females are left to explore both the complexities of the “ties that bind” and the so-called bonds that can easily tear these friendships apart. By exposing her readers to a narrative raw with seamless and prolific emotions, Siddons has been able to produce a story that explores issues familiar to women. She has a way with words, and the natural flow of her narrative makes it easy to get lost in the lives of four women, as they persevere through two decades of joy, sadness and hope.
"[Siddons] has a way with words, and the natural flow of her narrative makes it easy to get lost in the lives of four women, as they persevere through two decades of joy, sadness and hope."
Maddy, Rachel, Barbara and Melinda meet when their husbands are all in medical school. Since they share this common bond, they soon become fast friends, thus beginning the ritual of spending one week together every year at a beach house, so they can rekindle their friendship, no matter how far apart they might become. The oceanfront and isolation that they require are exciting and fun at first. But as time goes on, and one of their own dies in an automobile accident, mixed emotions creep in, and the thought of spending time together becomes less appealing. So the girls grow apart, relinquishing any thoughts of continuing their annual vacations or rekindling old friendships.
Not all friendships die so easily, though. When a new friend enters the picture, hoping to join the original Girls of August, old traditions take on new meanings, and the original three --- Maddy, Rachel and Barbara --- are forced to entertain the idea that maybe this new piece to their puzzle just might fit. After all, Teddy was Melinda’s husband, and they owe it to him to at least give his new wife a chance to become a member of their club. So Baby, a much younger newcomer, ingratiates herself into the lives of these three women as they once again share a vacation on an isolated island off the coast of South Carolina. As each one learns to accept the past and focus on the future, all four make startling revelations about themselves.
Accordingly, Siddons has “skewered the mores of socially pretentious Southerners” as she takes her readers on a journey into friendships that defy traditions and “weather the greatest of storms.” Unwittingly, we are led on an adventure bordering on the mystical, hoping to be let in for the long ride home. The lure of this tropic island and two natives --- Earl and MaMa --- make true believers in divine intervention. As the author intended, you can’t just read this story; you are left to dwell on it “like suntan lotion in a tropical rainstorm.”
THE GIRLS OF AUGUST is slightly reminiscent of Steel Magnolias, and even though it lacks the grittiness of that story, the essence of friendship remains the same. I am reminded of the following verse that I learned as a child and never want to forget: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”
Reviewed by Donna Smallwood on August 1, 2014
The Girls of August
- Publication Date: July 8, 2014
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
- ISBN-10: 0446527955
- ISBN-13: 9780446527958