I don't think I would have read this book if it wasn't for a friend and her Facebook book club. Somehow the title seemed more like chick lit even though the cover photo is quite tempting, a book on a bench with a pencil ... and it does show what the book is about. Women on a bench in a park, talking and writing about literature. But there is so much more in this novel. The story starts in the 60s when the right place for a woman would be at home, taking care of husband and children.
A good book about friendship. And reading. And friendship about books. Any book club can be like these women, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally who meet by chance in a park while their kids play in the playground. While they get to know each other better, they start not just discussing the books they love and read but also to write their own stories. And while the friends grow with their reading and writing, women on the whole grow, after all, it is the sixties. We can compare the role women played back then to today. Certainly a subject not many of today's generation understand because they didn't experience it this way. Telling a student from today how hard it was for women to even get into higher eduction just half a century ago is more difficult than telling them about the war. Even though they have experienced neither, it is easier for them to understand the fighting with weapons than the fighting for equal opportunities.
I still think this could be classified as chick lit because it certainly is an easy read and despite some problems in the story, it is still easy going. So, one of those "easy reads" you could attempt if you don't want a long and depressing story.
Meg Waite Clayton mentions herself that "Not every book is for every reader." However, I think, this book could be for many different kind of readers. It has a story for everyone. Not my favourite but I'm glad I read it.
From the back cover: "Friendship, loyalty, and love lie at the heart of Meg Waite Clayton’s beautifully written, poignant, and sweeping novel of five women who, over the course of four decades, come to redefine what it means to be family.
For thirty-five years, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally have met every Wednesday at the park near their Friendship, loyalty, and love lie at the heart of this novel of five women who, over the course of four decades, come to redefine what it means to be a family.
In the late 1960s, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally find themselves meeting every Wednesday at a park in Palo Alto, California. Defined at first mainly by what their husbands do, the young homemakers and mothers are far removed from the Summer of Love. These "Wednesday Sisters" otherwise seem to have little in common: Frankie is a timid transplant from Chicago, brutally blunt Linda is a remarkable athlete, Kath is a Kentucky debutante, quiet Ally has a secret, and quirky, ultra-intelligent Brett wears little white gloves with her miniskirts. But the women are bonded by a shared love of literature, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Austen, du Maurier, Plath, and Dickens, and the Miss America Pageant, which they watch together every year.
As the years roll on and their children grow, the quintet forms a writers' circle to express their hopes and dreams through poems, stories, and, eventually, books. Along the way, they experience history in the making, Vietnam, the race to put a man on the moon, and a women's movement that challenges everything they have ever thought about themselves, while at the same time supporting one another through changes in their personal lives brought on by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success.
The novel is a literary feast for book lovers and a celebration of the mysterious, unbreakable bonds among friends."
Books that were mentioned in the novel:
Austen, Jane "Pride & Prejudice"
Capote, Truman "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
Du Maurier, Daphne "Rebecca"
Eliot, George "Middlemarch"
Flaubert, Gustave "Madame Bovary"
Fowles, John "The French Lieutenant's Woman"
Forster, E. M. "Aspects of the Novel"
Greer, Germaine "The Female Eunuch"
Millett, Kate "Sexual Politics"
Plath, Sylvia "The Bell Jar"
Proust, Marcel "Remembrance of Things Past"
Segal, Erich "Love Story"
Shakespeare, William "Romeo and Juliet"
Tolstoy, Leo "Anna Karenina"
White, E.B. "Charlotte's Web"