The Wednesday Sisters…

I feel like there is so much to talk about when it comes to The Wednesday Sisters! I’ve been getting lots of feedback from readers. Some have really loved elements of the story line, or characters while others have found too much of the book to be outlandish and unrealistic. 
In a super quick nutshell, in true Wednesday Sisters fashion, I will start out by saying what I really appreciated about the book… 
– I absolutely adored these five women. I loved how they guardedly became more translucent with one another as their friendships deepened. I loved growing to know them through their completely human strengths and weaknesses. Though I’ve not read anything else by Meg Waite Clayton, I really loved her character development in this story. 
– The imagery painted of the era, (as well as the area) made the five year time frame as much of a character and a part of the Wednesday Sisters as the girls themselves… Not an easy task, I imagine. It seems like there is a fine line between coming across as an encyclopedia excerpt and a description full of cliche’ pop-culture hype. Instead of either one of those extremes I felt the time alive, as though I’d been there with my own recollections of the moments… (which I wasn’t, being born in 1976) 
– Even though I knew that the story line with Danny was headed somewhere huge and relevant to today, I deeply loved unwrapping it through the story. Being someone who is bored to tears at the mere mentioned of Silicon Valley, where we are visiting next month (plans set in motion long before I’d even heard of this book), I’m not really interested. Chw will be thrilled as he gets wrapped up in the history of all that technological stuff… 
– I saw myself in each of them. I related to each main character in one way or another. 
– I was completely immersed in the way the era, for women, paralleled their lives, self discoveries and the evolution of their friendship. 
– One of my favorite scenes, if you will, was the one leading up to the moment when Frankie crowned Danny Mr. America. LOVED it. i loved the moment when, beyond her own lonliness, hurts and rejection she allowed herself to see her husband for the man he truly was- and embrace him. So often we do that- we place our spouses (and others) in these one dimensional little boxes. I equally loved how his eventual (and natural) reaction to this was stepping up in support of her passions and taking pride in her. SO true to marriage..
– I was moved, beyond words at times, by gestures made between them. By the raw reality of their situations. The section of the book where Jeff reacted to Linda’s lump- heart wrenching. There wasn’t anything plastic or “story book perfect” about it. He reacted as any human could, be they a husband or a doctor. Later, with her secrecy. The reasons why she kept things to herself. How she dealt with the loss of her mother, even so many years later. Gripping. The same with Kath’s marriage. What a horrible position to be put in NOW, but then? With the societal standards the way they were- not to mention the familial pressures. Impossible positions. Jim and Ally… Being one who has carried that infertility burden, as I know many of you also have, my heart just throbbed for her. The loss of pregnancy along with that stripped feeling of failure and the loss of femininity and purpose is beyond hell. When you throw in the issues with Jim’s race, mixing it with an era barely progressed from the Civil Right’s movement and everything just seems so much heavier. I truly could go on and on about these things, these beautifully woven and written things with honestly did make me deeply love The Wednesday Sisters– both the characters and the book… 
To be brutally honest though, {And because they were with one another, I kind of feel like I have to be…} i struggled with a few of the elements of the story which felt plastic. Specifically four of them… 
One would be the ending. Or at least the beginning of the ending. Namely the Johnny Carson moment, on. While larger than life things do happen, and dreams really do come true like that, once in a blue moon (is that enough cliche’ references for ya’ll?) I felt like the pages of this book seemed to be awfully full of them. (to clarify, I do not mean full of Cliches, i mean full of unrealistic things.) Meg paints such a vivid and evolving canvas for us, complete with intricately crafted historical tie ins. She does this so BRILLIANTLY that the majority of the novel felt, to me, so real and homey… But then you have these great big “fix alls” that make it all seem, well, familiar and synthetic. The ending, for me, was like that. 
Second would be Hope. I’m sure there were readers thrilled with the Hope storyline, but I wasn’t. I am sure, at my confession of this, a few people would say it’s because my own miscarriage and fertility story never resulted in the birth of a baby. That’s not my problem with the storyline though. My problem with it is that, almost always, the story ends this way. The broken and desperate girl loses baby after baby, dying a little more inside each time and then her happily ever ending comes neatly wrapped in a bundle of baby goodness. Statistically when you take women who have multiple miscarriages, like this, less than 2% of them can carry a baby long enough to sustain it’s life without loads of money and the assistance of some major medical technology. Developping the character in such a tragically honest way and then plucking a baby (or two, actually) in her arms is like cutting a blooming rose off at the stems tip, just beneath the blossom. Depth is gone. Root- gone. Plastic. And, the 98% of the statistic, who read this book and never get that happy ending- where is their character to relate to? Where is their little kernel of life to embrace here? 
Third is Kath’s job. Not that it couldn’t happen. Again, I just felt like there were too many “amazing developments” taking away from the “reality and relatable” aspects of an otherwise great book. 
Fourth was the running. I never understood why, out of the blue, Linda had become a runner. Then, after she’s sick she mentions her mom being so weak before she died. She talks about how she is so much stronger than her mother. It made sense then, that she’d been a runner. I saw that, then, in her character. The drive. The passion for it… The belief that by running she could control something bigger than she dare speak of. So it just annoyed me a little bit that she hadn’t always been a runner. 
So, enough of my tangents and praises… I want to hear from you! Thoughts??? What did you love about it??? What didn’t you love about it??? 
A few other questions: 
– did you find yourself wishing you could have a Wednesday Sister type group? 
– which character did you find you related more with? 
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11 thoughts on “The Wednesday Sisters…

  1. Well, you already know how I feel about most of it. I agree with you. I loved watching their friendship grow. I loved the real and authentic feel of most of the book. I didn't love the larger than life solutions like J C and Hope. Hope's survival was the one story that didn't fit in to the era. Did they really have the technology back then to keep babies like Hope alive? But all of these problems with the plot left me wondering what would have been better? How do you write about a 35 year long friendship that isn't over yet? How do you end the book only 5 years into the relationship? You almost have to have something big where you draw the line and say the story stops here.

  2. I agree with you on a lot of this. There were some very unrealistic things I thought and those made it hard for me to want to continue on and then I WOULD continue on and really enjoy the next bits I was reading until the next hiccup and I would roll my eyes. I almost didn't finish reading it but there were some things in it that urged me to continue to see what happened with different parts of it. So overall I had a "so-so" opinion of it. WOuld I highly recommend someone read this book? no. If they told me they were reading it then I would say "ok, hey lets talk after you are finished with it"… so thats all I have on the book!

  3. I'm kind of in line with everyone else who's posted. I did love how the friendships went from talking at a playground to eventually going into each other's homes, and always a little awkwardly. It was a neat little commentary on social boundaries and how we start to move those to form deeper relationships.But on the more negative points, I also agreed. I hated the ending. I hated that it ended five years after it started, and then was just like, "oh, yeah… and Kath is still married… and blah blah whatever." (I can't even remember what happened with the other characters! I would have liked to see more on how the friendships endured, maybe not focusing so much on details of the 5 years. But then, she may have lost some of the parts that I liked… I don't know.I did kind of envy the writing group that they had. I've always been a writer, but just kind of out there on my own. Never really had anyone who could critique my writing or encouraged me to keep it up when I felt like giving up (which I've basically done at this point). So, yeah… reading the book definitely made me want to start writing regularly again, but I won't because I'd be doing it on my own, and I just don't have the drive to keep it up.

  4. So over all it seems like we are agreed… though, Nikke, I would absolutely recommend it- but with a HUGE disclaimer… :) Sarah, you may be on to something. Perhaps it was the romantic notions of what it did for the group, creatively… Jenni, that is so true. i had thought that, at the time, with Hope.

  5. I kinda liked how it kept going back to Mrs. America. It was like an anchor, a constant. I also loved the times when Frankie and her hubby went exploring in the old house. Every couple needs a secret adventure, a little inside joke. I wish she would have done more with the house. Am I crazy or did it seem like Ally was the girl they kept seeing in the house?

  6. Yeah… I think it was Ally they saw at the house. There was some allusion to that after Hope was born. It seems like Ally and Frankie shared a glance or something when Frankie said that maybe the "ghost" didn't need to haunt anymore, maybe it found what it was looking for.I agree that the house thing was a little… unfinished, maybe. I couldn't decide if I liked that or not. I kind of wanted them to buy the house and fix it up, but then that would have been another fairy tale portion of the book. So, maybe having it as this random side thing in life that ends up just getting demolished was a more realistic way to go about addressing it.

  7. I really enjoyed watching the Wednesday Sister's friend ship evolve throughout the story. It made me wish that I had friends that I could slowly reveal myself to.Two things:-I didn't like how Meg captured the imagery of the era. I think the reason that she even included current events of the time was so that she could emphasis friendships that span years. I just felt like it was too forced.-The women's struggles were too easily solved. Kath's Job, Linda's recovery, Hope's story line. A tragedy would have made for a more interesting and realistic story.

  8. Jen, Agreed! Early on I was talking to my girlfriend Jenni, who also read the book, and I said that… I got used to it and grew to like the reminders of the era but honestly just didn't feel that she was not only a strong enough writer to pull it off, but didn't believe herself capable- hence the CONSTANT pop culture references… And extra agree in re: to the problems solved. Very unrealistic… thanks for joining in!

  9. It was definitely Ally in the house. i too wish they would have touched more on that. It's like it was this huge focus and then nothing. And the house, itself, had the potential to be a character as much as the Wednesday Sisters themselves did.

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