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I have read every one of Anne River Sidds novels. Some, especially her later ones, are better than her very earliest but I have enjoyed them all. This latest offering is very readable but I did start to hate the smug older women enjoying a holiday in a house belonging to the person they so enjoy being nasty to. The setting is always superb, especially as we have visited some of the eastern islands described in her novels. Edisto is our favourite,
I remember the first time I was introduced to an ARS book. It was The Colony, and I thought it was a superb story. I was completely swept away when I came to the darker parts of the book, I just wasn't expecting any of it. I was totally taken by surprise. Her writing was like no other. She could take the most mundane scene, and evolve it into 3D visual effect. Her words were stunning. After that, I had to read all of ARS's books. Everyone of them. I was so excited when I received The Girls of August my kindle. I was hoping that ARS had found her way out of the miasma of Burnt Mountain. The words in The Girls of August are still stunning, but they just don't go anywhere. The story started above par, but I soon realized that I was more than 1/4 of the way through the book, and I was almost done! And as I got deeper into the story, I realized nothing happens . . . Nothing happens . . . Nothing happens . . . Ok, something happens, but I am not really sure what did happen . . . And then the book ends. Just like that! Where was the story? There was no character development. I felt absolutely nothing for any of these women. Plus, I thought the three older women, Barbara, Rachel and Madison were incredibly rude and condescending to Baby. If it was my house, I would have shown them the end of the pier and told them to have a nice swim back. Writing this clearly bothers me because I truly do not want to say anything bad about a woman who has written some great books in her life! I mean, that is my dream! I know the book was suppose to come out in 2013 and was delayed a year. It is not even 300 pages. I truly hope ARS is not in poor health, but I do know she is closer to 80 than 75. Maybe it's time to rest on her laurels.
I thought about giving this book no stars but figured that since one of my favorite authors spent time writing it I'd at least give her one star for the effort of producing a book, even if it was the worst book she's ever written. I can't reconcile that this is the same author who has written books I wanted to read over and over, like "Up Island". Her books typically have characters who literally spring from the page, who are so real I can see them and want to meet them. Her descriptive prose is generally so strong I feel I am at the place. I can't believe that she wrote such a piece of mindless dribble. She must have been under the gun to fulfill a contract with her publisher and decided to throw just any story line on a page. (I also can't believe I pre-ordered this and waited with such anticipation for it. Never again.) Save the 9.99 or whatever it is we pay for an ebook. Wait till the library gets it and take it out then to assuage your curiosity. This is not worth the virtual ink it was written with. If I thought I could get a refund for it after I'd read it already I would try.
This read like a book that was hastily written to meet a contract deadline, not at all like the fine novels we've all come to expect from this author. The characters are mean spirited and underdeveloped, and the story line is shallow and likewise remains undeveloped. If ARS had been at the top of her game this book would have been 400 pages instead of barely over 200 and we'd know a lot more in the end about how the stories turned out for the various characters.
Anne has been a consistently reliable author for many years. She hit a wall with this one, though. Hopefully she was just taking a breather, and will write more great novels in the future. If not, though, it's time for her to consider retirement. She is, after all, nearly 80. It's not like she hasn't written dozens of great novels to solidly establish her legacy as a top notch writer. She has. Her legacy is secure. Reading this book, though, was like watching Willie Mays trying to play baseball at the end of his career. His body wouldn't let him do it. This was a sad read for me.
Over the years I have been a huge fan of Anne Rivers Siddons and enjoyed her books immensely, sometimes reading them several times. I was so excited to see she had a new book out and bought it with expectations of it being on par with her previous works. What in incredible disappointment this book is! I kept waiting for a plot or story line to unfold and the suddenly I am at the end of the book wondering............where's the story? Even the characters lacked any real depth. It seemed so shallow, almost like someone who really had no real talent for writing hastily concocted a book that wasn't even interesting. The women in the story seem to do nothing more than drink alcohol and be bitchy, with the exception of Baby, who comes across as a mental case forever wanting to take her clothes off, spouting mindless drivel and shifting moods faster than quicksilver. Not my idea of a good book, not my idea of even a mediocre book - in essence a complete waste of money. In retrospect, I think that Burnt Mountain gave some indication that Ms. Siddons has lost her edge, and I allowed her one book that didn't meet expectations but The Girls of August is, plain and simple, a flop. I won't buy any of her future books because the past two have been huge disappointments. Don't bother with this one.................save yourself the time and expense. If you want to read Ms. Siddons at her best, try Peachtree Road, Colony, Up Island, Home Place, or The House Next Door, all of which deliver superb story lines, fascinating characters, superb prose, and keep the reader interested right up until the very end.
The most recent novel by Anne River Siddons is The Girls of August. Girlfriends get together that happens once a year for a great time had by all. What could go wrong? Let’s visit Tiger Island and find out. Synopsis: Maddy is making preparations to meet her friends. They have known one another for years. There is just one change to this year’s get together. A new woman comes to the group, a new wife. These women know each other’s from in the past. Their husbands did their residencies together in the same hospital. The couples had remained friends over the years. So each August the ladies would get away to various locations for one week. The change this year is one of the doctors has married again after his wife died in a car accident. The new wife Baby is the baby of the group. She is younger by twenty years than the other women. How could she possibly get along with the others? So they make their journey to Tiger Island where Baby owns a beach house. What other troubles could possibly follow these other ladies to the island? My Thoughts: I liked this novel. I am not a huge fan of Anne River Siddons. This novel appealed to me because of course the beach setting. It is entertaining! The characters are well developed with real conflict. The one part of the story that was a disappointment to me was the climax. A huge storm comes to the island and then the story ends. It leaves the reader wondering if they are rescued and what happens next? What how was their conflict resolved? I would have like a little more to the story.
The women had all met years before, in Nashville, and they had all married doctors: Teddy, Hugh, Mac, and Oliver. Their first August getaway had cemented their bonds, despite the fact that the first divorce among them took Teddy’s wife Cornelia shortly thereafter. They didn’t miss her, but they did love her summer house.
Teddy’s next wife, Melinda, was a favorite friend who was lost too soon in a terrible accident. After her death, and despite fifteen years of getaways, the August escapes ended. For a while.
Now, after three years, they are trying again. They escape to Tiger Island, Teddy’s summer house on the South Carolina coast, which he shares with his new “child bride,” LucyAnne, whom everyone calls Baby, and they try to form a new bond.
But Baby is hard to love, with her childish prattle and her propensity for stripping down and wandering in the ocean, stark naked. Could she be stupid, or is there more to her than her surface would suggest?
The Girls of August
was an enjoyable read, mostly because of the three older women, Rachel, Barbara, and our first person narrator, Madison (Maddy). Rachel’s biting wit, mostly directed toward Baby and her antics, and Barbara’s mysterious silences and excessive drinking…made me want to get to know them a bit more. I wanted to understand what was going on with them. And our narrator, Maddy, was someone who seemed compassionate, and like a friend anyone would want. And then there was Baby, who surprised me in the end, even though I still didn’t like her.
Some of their adventures made me long for a retreat like that one, but unexpected events bring the two-week getaway to a crashing end, jolting me a little. A four star read.