Light, good, and fun. This is one of those books you want to pick up each night because it’s so relaxing to read, and if you’re an aspiring writer (or a writing teacher), it’s fun to watch a writing group evolve from casual conversations with a lot of superficial accolades to more serious dialogue about character believability and plot development.
Perhaps most interesting for me was the time period: much of the story takes place from the late 60’s through the mid 70’s, a time when my mom was raising me just as these women were raising their kids (though i’m the last of 6 children and most of these women are first time moms during this time, so they’d be about 10 years younger than my mom’s generation).
The story takes place in Palo Alto, CA when all the women are in their early 20s and most have babies–they meet for the first time in a park. They are housewives, and they mostly define themselves through their husbands’ careers, degrees, and accomplishments. But as they begin to write and talk, they discover their own interests which are often then developed in their writing. Two elements I really liked were the references to history and literature. As history unfolds–VIetnam protests, the women’s movement, astronauts on the moon, the first episode of Sesame Street–we see it through their eyes and the eyes of their young children. And their conversations about writing often refer to classic novels and the styles in which they were written. So we get some Fitzgerald, Plath, and Austen along with the mundane mommy issues like teaching kids to share and sending them off on their first day of school.
One of my favorite scenes takes place in the park when the first of the 5 sisters is ready to send a manuscript out to publishers. They bring 5 typewriters and each sister produces a typed copy of the complete manuscript so it can be sent to 5 publishers at once. Luckily, by the time the second woman is ready to send out a manuscript, their town has just purchased its first copy machine. They can hardly imagine such convenience. And in writing this short review, I have already deleted or or changed nearly every sentence.
For a light novel about friendship, motherhood, setbacks, and family life in the 60’s and 70’s, there’s enough history, literature, and writing methodology to give it some depth. (fiction)