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The Wednesday Sisters [Paperback]

Meg Waite Clayton
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 May 2009

Five women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship

When five young mothers—Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett—first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write a novel herself, and the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. The five women slowly, and often reluctantly, start filling journals, sliding pages into typewriters, and sharing their work. In the process, they explore the changing world around them: the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and a women’s movement that challenges everything they believe about themselves. At the same time, the friends carry one another through more personal changes—ones brought about by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success. With one another’s support and encouragement, the Wednesday Sisters begin to embrace who they are and what they hope to become, welcoming readers to experience, along with them, the power of dreaming big.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (5 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345502833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345502834
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 12.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 883,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sisterhood is Powerful! 14 Jan 2009
It is the Sixties in the Bay Area. Ah, this seems so familiar! As I read along about the five women who meet in the park every Wednesday, with their kiddies, the whole thing feels like it could have happened in my life.

That's what is wonderfully cozy about this book. The reader feels the connection between the women and gets a little peek into their lives. The first-person narrator is one of the women, so the whole thing feels even more intimate.

But then it changes into something more, as the women begin writing. Then the whole purpose of the meetings is writing and critiquing and finding their own voice as women, as people, in a way that's different for those times. Yes, they do go to the occasional peaceful protest,
but the crux of their time together is about the writing.

But the book veers off again, as each of the women faces some kind of crisis. First, the marriage that's torn asunder by the husband's cheating; then the cancer scare that turns into more than a scare. As they each bond together to support each other through the tough times,
you see the familiarity again...Women and Sisterhood.

The Wednesday Sisters felt so real that I couldn't put it down. I hoped to discover more about their lives, but alas, the final page came anyway. The writer makes us care about the characters, which is what good writing is all about.

Laurel-Rain Snow
Author of Another Sisterhood Book:
Miles to Go, etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Look at the Power of Friendship 6 Nov 2008
What do you get when you combine five women, a shared love of reading and a park picnic table? The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton, of course.

In the late 1960's five very different women meet as their children play in a Palo Alto park. United by their love of books and a shared passion for the Miss America Pageant, the five women - Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett and Ally - become friends. Eventually their love of books leads to the creation of a writing circle. The characters grow as women and as friends through their writing, and that growth is a fascinating process to watch.

We meet these remarkable women at a crucial point in American history. The Vietnam War is dividing the nation and the Summer of Love is at its peak. The first meeting of the Wednesday Sisters takes place the day after Robert F. Kennedy is shot, and the women find themselves drawn to the park; each one looking for comfort and normalcy on that dark day. As their friendships blossom, they watch in awe as Neil Armstrong walks on the moon and re-evaluate their roles as wives and mothers in light of the Women's Liberation Movement. All the while, they continue to write and encourage each other to pursue their dreams.

Meg Waite Clayton did an excellent job in creating vivid, interesting characters and showing how their lives changed as a result of their friendships and the turbulent times in which they lived. This is a fun, easy read, but there's also a lot of meat to the story. It's sure to be a popular choice for book clubs. I wouldn't be surprised to see The Wednesday Sisters on the silver screen at some point. This inspirational story of the power of friendship has a wide appeal.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  338 reviews
62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for Book Clubs 18 Jun 2008
By Lesa Holstine - Published on Amazon.com
In a book perfect for book clubs, Meg Waite Clayton tells the story of five young women, wives and mothers, who find each other, and a lifelong friendship, in a children's park in Palo Alto, California. Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally are The Wednesday Sisters, women who support each other in the turbullient, changing years of the late '60s and early '70s.

Mary Frances O'Mara, Frankie, tells the story of five women who share an unspoken dream. When Frankie meets Linda, and then the others, she learns they all love books. Their book discussions eventually turn to a discussion of writing, and a dream no one dares whisper, that of being published someday. So, The Wednesday Sisters are born, when they agree to meet at the picnic tables on Wednesday mornings to write and critique the writing. This honesty about the writing forces them to share other secrets. Over the years, they gradually reveal more to each other. Readers learn early about the death of Linda's mother. But, why does Brett wear white gloves? Each woman will eventually share her deepest fears.

Frankie's voice is the right one to tell the story of five women who grow and change with a changing country. Her story looks back at the early years of lifelong friendship, friendship that grows and reflects changes in the early '70s. The Miss America pageant that links their lives is a perfect vehicle to show the changes in these five women, as well as the country.

I read the first two paragraphs of The Wednesday Sisters, and I knew it would be a wonderful book. Who can resist the second paragraph? "That's us, there in the photograph. Yes, that's me-in one of my chubbier phases, though I suppose one of these days I'll have to face up to the fact that it's the thinner me that's the "phase," not the chubbier one. And going left to right, that's Linda (her hair loose and combed, but then she brought the camera, she was the only one who knew we'd be taking a photograph). Next to her is Ally, pale as ever, and then Kath. And the one in the white gloves in front-the one in the coffin-that's Brett."

Frankie, Linda, Ally, Kath and Brett. It's worthwhile meeting them in The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good beach read--not perfect, but enjoyable 12 Aug 2009
By Lee A. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
The concept is wonderful: a modern, contemporary woman telling the story of how she and a group of friends became writers back in the late 1960s. It is not a perfect book, but I enjoyed reading it. I think the characters and dialogue are a bit thin. The story of the women's friendship, their personal lives, and their development as writers is told against the backdrop of an incredible time in American history (1968 to 1970). The characters are traditional stay-at-home moms with conservative values, but over the course of those two years, their minds become open to new ideas about the war in Viet Nam, civil rights and feminism. The novel wants us to relate to the characters, and tries to present the five women as complex, well-rounded personalities. Ironically, the characters and dialogue lean toward stereotypes (especially Kath). Additionally, a few premises are unrealistic. I don't want to spoil the story, but if you've already read it, ask yourself how the other women could have believed Carrie to be Ally's daughter, after seeing/meeting Jim. Also, ultimately I found "the gloves" to be unbelievable (think about it... preparing food, changing diapers, holding a pen, doing the dishes... always in white gloves?) Despite these criticisms, I would recommend the book to women, especially women who lived during the time in which the book is set, and those who are writers.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For anyone who believes in the power of a good book 30 Jun 2008
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
"The Wednesday Sisters look like the kind of women who might meet at those fancy coffee shops on University --- we do look that way --- but we're not one bit fancy, and we're not sisters, either. We don't even meet on Wednesdays anymore, although we did at the beginning."

So begins Meg Waite Clayton's lyrical novel of the friendships forged among five different women who come together by chance. In the tumultuous years of the late 1960s, many females were involved in protest marches opposing the war or fighting for the women's movement. But in suburban Palo Alto, five ladies came together primarily because of their children. Being a mother is the first thing they had in common when they met at Pardee Park in those early days. Soon after, Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett and Ally discovered that they all shared a love of books and a secret wish to write themselves. For Frankie --- a recent transplant from Chicago, with her husband and two kids --- to utter a desire out loud, even among friends, was terrifying: "It doesn't seem like much now, I know, to admit ambition to your closest friends. I guess you'll have to take my word for it: it was. It makes me a little sad when I look back on it, to think how very many women didn't have Wednesday Sisters, to wonder who they might have become if they had."

In admitting their passion for writing, the "Wednesday Sisters" begin to nourish lifelong bonds among themselves that transcend their literary goals. Linda, the frank, sometimes tactless one, lives with the fear that the disease that took her mother when she was young might do the same to her: "I grew up the child of a sick mother, and then the child of a dead mother. I couldn't imagine going back to that. I couldn't imagine putting my kids through that." Kath is a spitfire Southern belle dealing with issues in her complicated marriage. Brett is the ladylike brain, always attired in white gloves that conceal a hidden tragedy from her past. Ally is demure and soft-spoken, crumbling under the weight of fertility issues, who desperately wants to write a children's book to rival CHARLOTTE'S WEB.

When they first begin to meet on that playground, as their children play around them, each is taking a decisive step to move past her fears and express herself through writing. And in the words of Robin Morgan's seminal anthology from that time, they prove that "Sisterhood is Powerful." As they gain confidence in their writing and critiquing ability, they notice they are beginning to turn their keen eyes on the world that is changing all around them.

From the outset, they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant each year. At first, they enjoy it as frothy entertainment, but later they witness how the women's movement has affected this annual event, even their own opinions of femininity and what it means to be female. Through their weekly meetings and unwavering support, each faces moments when she flourishes and, yes, sometimes flounders. And each is buoyed by the others' strength and fortitude, through some of life's most difficult obstacles. Their little writing group has blossomed into something more --- it has become the foundation of lifelong friendships.

Meg Waite Clayton's stirring novel will appeal not just to those who secretly wish to be writers, but to anyone with a love of great books; anyone who has felt truly moved by a book or an author; and anyone who has had their dreams bolstered by good and faithful friends. It will speak volumes to fans of THE FRIDAY NIGHT KNITTING CLUB and THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB. You'll want to share THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS with anyone who believes in the power of a good book --- to inspire those close to us, and for those who inspire.

--- Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "You've come a long way baby" 21 Jun 2008
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
In the late 1960s the five young mothers meet in Palo Alto at a park. They have plenty in common as they dream of being much more than just a wife and mother while hearing tales of the counter culture and the Summer of Love. The quintet love books especially those they can escape into so they can forget their somewhat tedious lives especially the household chores, but each sees a different role for the lead female characters based on what they dream they wanted.

Linda loves to run with the Olympics her fantasy goal. Brett literally wants to walk on the moon. Kath insists marriage is all she ever desired, but her four new pals with their aspirations make her wonder if there might be something in addition to being wife and mother. Ally, the only one without a child, wants a kid or three. The leader Midwesterner Frankie, who came to California as her husband came here to work at the fledgling computer business, hopes to be come a writer. THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS inspire each other to go after their aspirations and much more even when they seem impossible in a man's only world by writing and sharing their tales.

This historical sisterhood tale is an engaging look at the beginning of the "You've come a long way baby" feminist movement that brought women into many fields previously taboo epitomized by Hilary's run (the next one will go all the way). Each of the five women seems real due to their dreams to be more than identified through their husband and kids. Although their individual writings are too sweet even if they read valid for their place in late 1960s society, fans will enjoy this fine tale as before Sally Ride there was a real Brett out there trying to break out of the box.

Harriet Klausner
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What friendship is all about. 18 Jun 2008
By David Edmonds - Published on Amazon.com
I received The Wednesday Sisters through the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing. It's an excellently written story about friendship and family (and especially how friends can grow into being more than just friends, they can become family too). From the moment I started reading, I knew that this was going to be a great book.

The story revolves around no-nonsense, athletic Linda, super smart Brett, quiet Frankie, Southern Belle Kath & shy Ally, friends who first meet every Wednesday in the park for play time with their kids, but where they eventually start to discuss what books they've been reading and the general small talk of forming friendships. Later, they discover that each has had a small desire in one way or another to become writers, so the Wednesday meetings change to writing critiques, as they each try to help the other into becoming better writers. The book is so much more than just about their writing, though. It's also about the hopes, dreams and challenges of young families and budding friendships. We get a glimpse into 5 years of their friendship and watch through their eyes as the world is changing around them (the story starts in the summer of 1967) and how they themselves grow as individuals with the rest of the world.

This was a delight to read; smartly written and nicely paced, with believable characters living real lives. I think Meg Waite Clayton describes her own book best, when the Wednesday Sisters are critiquing Brett's book and Frankie asks, "How did you make it so funny and so touching at the same time(?)... It's a little bit of magic, that." When I read that line, I thought the exact same thing about The Wednesday Sisters.
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