She, Myself & I

by Whitney Gaskell

SHE, MYSELF & I is a light, fluffy trifle of a novel --- a
charming tale of three compassionate, flawed and perfectly human
sisters. The saga of the Cassel sisters is thoughtfully rendered
and at times quite poignant.

Whitney Gaskell, who also is the author of TRUE LOVE (AND OTHER
LIES) and PUSHING 30, breaks up the novel into three sections, each
narrated by a different sibling. The first is told in the voice of
oldest sister Paige, a driven divorce attorney who is still
stinging from the breakup of her marriage and trying to find her
footing in the daunting world of dating and men. The second is told
in the voice of middle sister Sophie, who, following the birth of
her son, suddenly begins to feel stifled and overwhelmed by her
once idyllic life. The last section is narrated by Mickey, the
newly-graduated youngest sister whose role as "the good and
reliable one" weighs heavily on her as she harbors more than a few
secrets of her own. Adding to the drama of the sisters' lives ---
in an amusing and well-drawn but never distracting subplot --- is
the unexpected rejuvenation of their parents' marriage after a long
and messy divorce many years ago.

After reading Gaskell's bio, it's easy to see why Paige's portion
of the novel is the most honest and feels the most real. Gaskell
herself was once a "reluctant lawyer" as is Paige, and, of all the
sisters, Gaskell's affinities seem to lie primarily with her. Thus
Paige's section is the strongest, and when it draws to a close and
readers realize they have entered into Sophie's mind, they may be a
tad resentful to have lost a character who is so skillfully drawn
--- I know I was.

When I first read Paige's account of her conversations with Sophie,
I groaned inwardly at her childish antics --- I was not looking
forward to wading through what I thought would be self-pitying
reflection and childish whims. Yet, when I actually found myself in
Sophie's head, I was impressed by Gaskell's ability to round her
out and fill in the spaces that Paige, when interacting with or
musing on her sister, had left out. By humanizing Sophie, Gaskell
reveals Paige's quickness to judge and Sophie herself becomes real
--- a fully fleshed-out character instead of a cliché.

While Gaskell and her readers may have even less in common with
Mickey, the serious but impulsive, sweet but fiery youngest sister
is a disarming array of contradictions that make for a strong and
compelling narrative voice. Mickey is more than likeable; her mix
of youthful bravado, emotional insecurity and deep compassion for
her sisters is irresistible. And Gaskell has fun with her, taking
the time to note small details like her love of peanut butter on
just about anything and naiveté regarding appropriate lingerie
on a first date. Her wry yet sympathetic voice is also ideal for
describing the outcome of the climactic events of her sister's
previous sections and detailing her parent's messy trips and falls
back into matrimony.

Readers will appreciate that Gaskell does not try to tie everything
together in a neat little bow by the end of the novel; we know the
sisters and their parents will continue to trip and fall and pick
themselves up again, slightly bruised but a little wiser, as we all
do. SHE, MYSELF & I may be a gift, but it is not of a neatly
wrapped, perfectly tied variety. Instead, the story of the Cassel
sisters is a gift of the "wrong holiday wrapping paper, bows
slightly askew and names misspelled in the cards" type. It is not
perfect but it is from the heart. That is what Gaskell has done
here --- created something that is sweet, but slightly messy,
honest, relatable and real.

Reviewed by Jennifer Krieger on January 23, 2011

She, Myself & I
by Whitney Gaskell

  • Publication Date: September 27, 2005
  • Genres: Chick Lit, Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553383132
  • ISBN-13: 9780553383133