“The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel” by author Meg Waite Clayton begins by settling the reader on a bench in the middle of Palo Alto’s Pardee Park, next to Frankie (or Mary Frances, rather) O’Mara, the narrator of the story. It is late 1967, and Frankie and her her husband, Danny, are contemplating a move to California from the Midwest.
While watching her children play, Frankie meets another young mother, Linda Mason, an aspiring runner. The women introduce themselves and gossip about another park mom whom they haven’t yet met, Brett Tyler, who wears white gloves to the playground.
By mid-1968, the O’Maras have moved into the Pardee Park neighborhood. A friendship is formed between Frankie, Linda, the brilliant Brett, Southern belle Kath Montgomery and eventually, BoHo Ally Tantry. The friends discuss their favorite writers and books as they watch their children play.
Fall approaches and the Wednesday Sisters, as they have chosen to call themselves, gather to watch the Miss America Pageant. The pageant’s talent competition inspires the sisters to challenge each other to pursue their personal goals and produce their own writing projects. Some of the women are more reluctant to expose themselves through the written word, but eventually, they all tackle the task of writing and critiquing one another’s work.
The turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s in the Bay Area provide the backdrop for the story as the friends experience and participate in the social upheaval taking place around them. These women are bright, and mostly well-educated, but were raised to be housewives and mothers. The world around them is changing, as are the expectations of their roles in society.
Infertility, illness, in-laws and infidelity, as well as partners, prejudice, and progress all leave a lasting impression on the Wednesday Sisters who pursue their writing and friendship with passion.
“The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel”, rates four eyes (no pun intended) with yourstruly. It is particularly interesting to observe the changes that took place in the US from the point of view of young mothers as opposed to having experienced this era as a child.
I look forward to reading more work by Meg Waite Clayton, such as her novel about law students known as “The Four Ms. Bradwells”.
“The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel” by Meg Waite Clayton is available in paperback from Ballantine Books (2009). http://www.amazon.com/The-Wednesday-Sisters-A-Novel/dp/0345502833/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339410192&sr=1-1