My sister, also a reader, recommended this book, so although I’d never heard of either the book or the author, I trusted my sister’s tastes and went with it. She introduced me to several authors and I’ve kept up with some.
Sad to say I wasn’t so fond of this particular book. The story concerns two elderly women who have been best friends for about 80 years. That got my interest anyway because I do tend to enjoy books about people my own age- or I used to anyway, they’re becoming rather common now. (And I could go on about Boomers pushing the markets, but …)
by Alice Elliott Dark
Read by Cassandra Campbell – 9h 32m
Rating: 8 / lit historical fiction
They have mostly lived in Philadelphia with their wealthy Quaker families who spend their summertimes in their nearby cottages.on the coast of Maine. Agnes Lee is the successful author of many novels including a very popular children’s series which she’s done pseudonymously and anonymously. She lives alone and likes it that way. She is the lead character but not by much,
Polly Wister, Agnes’s best friend, is married to the love of her life who, until his retirement, was a professor of philosophy and later retired. Polly is from an elite family in Philadelphia and tries to graciously enjoy the privileges money provides while caring for her husband, their 3 growing boys, and her old friend, Agnes. Polly’s 1st person soliloquies remind me of Ducks Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann where a very ill, middle-aged woman is dying and whose stream of consciousness takes up the whole book (!)
In a series of flashbacks, the novel goes into the past lives of the two women, friends from childhood and Maine, while moving along with the current times in 2001and later when they’re close to 80 and finishing up their lives and death in general are on their minds.
I didn’t like Maud’s name. She is 27 in 2001 and mentions Jimmy Hendrix as being the same age when he died. Why would that even spring to mind in someone who was born in 1974? Hendrix died before she was born. Why is his death a part her thought process at all? – I doubt my own children would think of Jimmy Hendrix and they were born in 1967 and 1970.
I think I understand why Dark used the name Maud – it’s old fashioned and in keeping with the ages of Agnes and Polly. The Maine house is very old antiques and collectables in it. Maud’s mother is Heidi and of the same age as Agnes and Polly. There are a lot of changes in the women and their world but also there are things which don’t change.
The women change even if they try not to out of respect for traditions and the old ways and also out of determination that their ways are correct and sometimes because the world catches up to their forward Quaker notions. And there are plenty of themes in this door-stopper of a book (are books used for that anymore?)