Girls' Almanac

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The Girls' Almanac chronicles the lives of Jenna and Lucy—two thirty-something women who desperately long for a true friend—as well as the lives of the women and men who have touched them: friends, lovers, parents, and neighbors. Set across the Northeast—through suburban neighborhoods, preppy camps, island resorts, and Ivy League colleges—as well as far flung locales like Ecuador and Iceland, The Girls' Almanac traces the friendships of women willing to risk both self-consciousness and intimacy, loss and ...

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The Girls' Almanac

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The Girls' Almanac chronicles the lives of Jenna and Lucy—two thirty-something women who desperately long for a true friend—as well as the lives of the women and men who have touched them: friends, lovers, parents, and neighbors. Set across the Northeast—through suburban neighborhoods, preppy camps, island resorts, and Ivy League colleges—as well as far flung locales like Ecuador and Iceland, The Girls' Almanac traces the friendships of women willing to risk both self-consciousness and intimacy, loss and betrayal, in pursuit of a proper best friend. Exploring the fascinating closeness and distance that female friendships encompass, The Girls' Almanac reveals the map of Jenna and Lucy's interconnected lives, and ultimately their pathways to each other.

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Editorial Reviews

Laura Zigman
“Lovely…snapshots of women which…allow us to see their lives unfold as if we’re leafing through a photoalbum.”
Lisa Tucker
“Reading The Girls’ Almanac is like going on an exotic trip with your dearest friends.”
Lewis Robinson
“Unnervingly perceptive and moving…Franklin has a remarkable talent for diving to the heart of things.”
Heidi Jon Schmidt
“Emily Franklin writes beautifully of the essential, pivotal moments in women’s lives.”
Judith Claire Mitchell
“After I finished these stories, I found myself missing the women who populated them. They’d come to feel like closegirlfriends.”
Lily King
“Emily Franklin’s stories…and her great attention to detail seems an intricate form of nostalgia.”
Publishers Weekly
A weblike illustration mapping the relationships of 30 characters kicks off Franklin's (Liner Notes) collection of interconnected short stories that run the gamut from half-baked to heartbreaking. The latter includes the first story, "Early Girls," about Lucy, who mourns her dead fianc as she helps prepare for her mother's second wedding. Lucy's friends Jenna, who finds solace in baking, and Gabrielle, a doctor struggling with the idea of motherhood, have rough goes of it in other stories. Franklin has a harder time with male characters, as in "Community Service," in which a teacher who works at a school for "troubled teens" breaks down while supervising his students on a community service outing. Franklin's smart prose sees her characters through rites of passage including first sexual encounters, marriage and motherhood, as well as difficulties such as terminal illness, infidelity and widowhood. Highlights include "Kindling," a story of two roommates and their communal living situation; "A Map of the Area," set in an upscale hippie retreat; and "The Math of the Fourth Child," about two women trying to predict the future of a yet-to-be-conceived child. A handful of shorter pieces feel unfinished, but there are enough thought-provoking stories to pull readers through. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Franklin's (The Principles of Love) collection of stories centers on a group of women who are connected tangentially, with two of the characters becoming fast friends in the final story. It highlights the struggle of moving toward and the joy of finding a true best friend. The stories begin in girlhood, travel through adolescence, and progress into adulthood. Some take place in faraway locales like Iceland and Ecuador. Interesting plot lines include one woman dealing with her cheating fianc 's drowning and another woman struggling to bear a child after multiple miscarriages. While each story is appealing and well written, the book as a whole is confusing. It opens with a chart delineating how each character is related to another an indispensable tool, as it is easy to get the characters confused. While the vignettelike, linked scenarios resemble Melissa Banks's The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing, this book is mired in too many tangential relationships. Enjoyable moments are plenty, but confusion took away from the collection as a whole. An optional purchase for chick-lit and short story collections. Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Debut collection follows from girlhood to adulthood the interconnected lives of a group of women. Lucy thinks about her dead fiance as she helps her mother pick out a wedding dress. Jenna kisses at a high-school party a boy who won't be her boyfriend. Over tea, Laura and Gabrielle list all the horrible things that can happen to children. Men-mostly in the form of lovers and fathers-make appearances, but the primary concern here is women and their overlapping lives. The characters who populate these narratives are bound to each other by friendship, family and happenstance, but their interpersonal intersections ultimately serve more as an ineffectual gimmick than a truly unifying force. Franklin (Liner Notes, 2003) never quite allows these tales to coalesce as a novel-in-stories, but the stories don't work on their own, either. They can be divided into those in which something happens, and those in which nothing much happens, and neither type is especially successful. In the former, the dramatic incident-Heather reveals that she was raped by her stepbrother, Andrea asks Gabrielle for money for an abortion-is tacked on toward the end, with the subtlety of a soap-opera cliffhanger. The latter are just plain boring. The author's dispassionate, slightly disengaged tone echoes-rather than complements-her mundane subject matter. The result is too flaccid to be engaging, and the occasional stab at poetry or philosophy tends to fall flat. Fits neatly into, but never transcends, the subset of popular fiction consumed by women who love to read about, above all, themselves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060873400
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/26/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Emily Franklin
Emily Franklin is the author of the novel Liner Notes and a fiction series, The Principles of Love. She is co-editor and contributor to a two-part fiction anthology: Before: Short Stories About Pregnancy from Our Top Writers and After: Short Stories About Parenting from Our Top Writers and editor of It's a Wonderful Lie: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including the Mississippi Review and Boston Globe. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their three children.
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Read an Excerpt

The Girls' Almanac

By Emily Franklin

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Emily Franklin

All right reserved.

ISBN: 006087340X

Chapter One

Early Girls

At the gym, Lucy uses a yoga ball to stretch. Large and blue, the rubber globe has teats to hang on to, and Lucy does, all the while envisioning the bright--hued cow who might have the ball as an udder. In the locker room, she doesn't bother to shower but notices the skin all around her in various stages of sagging and figures herself somewhere in the middle. All of the imperfections--moles and hip--flanking stretch marks, the puckered folds of back skin--all seem wonderful to Lucy. After Matt had proposed, they'd lain still in their swimsuits on the lakeshore with his hand like a map's x on her belly.

"I love this part of you," he'd said, touching the pigmented splotch below her ribs. Like something melted, the spot spread each time she breathed out. "I wonder if it will get bigger when you get pregnant."

They'd speculated, tried to guess which state outline the birthmark might resemble as her body changed. Propped up on her elbows then, Lucy had looked at the smooth plane of water, watching for fish ripples and feeling her newly ringed finger. Matt had kept his hand on her as they stayed there, paperweighting her as if she might become airborne at any moment.

When she thought about that day, she could make any of the objects huge in her mind--the birthmark splotch could seem to take over her belly, or thestriped beach towel they were on could enlarge to blanket size, but usually the water took over, breaking out of its lake--hold and seeping onto them. The ring never grew, though. Once, in a dream, the diamond band had actually become minute, baby--earring size and then the size of a small--fonted o. When Lucy woke up, she went to the box on her dresser where she kept the engagement ring and checked to see if it still fit.

On the back deck are the flats of pansies and new strawberry plants Lucy will earth later in the day. She walks past the small bobbed flower heads and tangled stems to the back door, going inside to change into nonathletic clothing, something her mother would call "an outfit."

"It's hard to say," she says into the phone to Kyla. "I feel like it should feel weird, but it doesn't."

"Maybe you're just blocking it out," Kyla says, the slur of highway noise and radio coming through.

"I hope you're using your earpiece." Lucy picks at dirt under her thumbnail and then, unable to flick it out, uses her teeth, feeling the sand grit on her tongue.

"It's called an earbud, Luce," Kyla says.

"I know. It just sounds gross--like an earwig or something that's going to bite you or something. Anyway, I think I'm just going with the black pants, white top."

"Good," Kyla says. "You'll look like a very stylish waiter."

At Unveiled, the bridal boutique in downtown Boston, Lucy steps in the door, only to have the sensors go off.

"I'm not even holding anything," she says, trying to make light of the loud buzzers and the tomato--shaped and colored lights flaring atop the electronic gate. One of the saleswomen comes with a key to unlock and restart the device.

When Ginny, Lucy's mother, arrives with her black binder full of bridal ideas, Lucy tells her about the sensor incident, saying, "It's like even they know I'm not supposed to be in here."

"Don't be ridiculous," Ginny says and splays her bridal book onto the counter. "Now, let's figure out some options."

Two saleswomen, "bridal assistants" they call themselves, peck and hem at Ginny's book, fondle the fabric samples she's pinned inside, and remark about the work that went into the collection of torn magazine pages, clipped tapestry samples, articles about shoe dyeing.

One of the assistants turns to Lucy and says, "Can I just do one quick thing?" Without a response, the assistant sticks her hands into Lucy's hair and fluffs out the matted locks. Lucy is so grateful for the touch that she doesn't react.

Ginny nods as if there's been some conversation that Lucy's missed. "I know, her hair has always been baby fine. No body--wouldn't even hold a perm. Granted, this saved her from those giant mistakes some of the girls made." Ginny holds her hands several inches from her own head as if she's trying on an invisible helmet. Then she turns back to Lucy. "She looks so nice when it's just been cut, though. A blunt cut to frame the face."

Lucy rolls her eyes; she's heard the hair speech many times before. She suspects the pale--skin talk will follow, but before Ginny can tell of the way a tan suits her daughter's coloring, the assistant says to Lucy, "Now, tell me--will you wear your hair up or down for the ceremony?"

"Actually, my mom's the one getting married," Lucy says, which prompts instant fussing from the assistants, who cover up their assumptions by fawning over the bridal binder again.

They self--correct and distract by saying to Ginny, "Well, this makes much more sense. The designs you've picked out are far more suitable for a more mature bride, the closed sleeve for --example."

Lucy wanders to the garment racks by the bay windows. Unveiled prided itself on being less a store than an elegant town house that just happened to house hundreds of bridal gowns, tiaras, and corsets. Sifting through the hangered dresses, Lucy wonders if her mother will wear white or settle on something more common for the déjà vu bride.

"How about celadon?" Ginny shouts across the room, holding up a wrap the color of treacle.

Lucy nods and then, to make sure she seemed enthusiastic enough, nods again, emphatic as a seizure. The gowns are set on the puffy silk hangers that make Lucy think of ballet slippers, trickling ribbons, the old poster she had in her room of a ballerina with torn tights . . .


Excerpted from The Girls' Almanac
by Emily Franklin
Copyright © 2006 by Emily Franklin.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 2 of 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

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    a reviewer

    Though she still mourns the sudden death of her fiancé, Lucy tries to get on with her life though her mom remarrying makes it more difficult. Jenna, a baker, loves her vocation more than people so when she is not baking she feels lonely and lost. Her mother raised her after her parents divorced, but Gabrielle the doctor only recently has been able to reconcile with her father as both regret how much they lost.------------ As these three thirty something lonely women become friends, they also begin to meet other people, have boyfriends, and grow closer to their parents. Each realizes how debilitating being alone truly is, but with one another that should not happen again no matter what curve ball life pitches at them.--------------- Overall this astute character study collection is more a series of relational vignettes. Readers will enjoy the growth of the three dimensional females when something goes awry or is perceived as going wrong on the other hand the two dimensional males start out pathetic and remain pathetic. The three amigas learn that everyone needs someone when life turns rough. Unwanted poetry aside, Emily Franklin provides a profound look at living not just surviving life.------------ Harriet Klausner

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    Posted December 25, 2009

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