Symbolically presiding over this emotionally powerful novel is the recently deceased Barbara Forbes. Before she succumbed to cancer, Barbara thoughtfully composed letters to each of her four daughters. This novel, Elizabeth Noble's fourth, follows the sisters as they cope with their shared loss and attempt to navigate their futures, guided partly by their mother's posthumous notes. Another engaging ensemble novel by the author of The Reading Group.
Noble (The Reading Group) hits her stride in her tearjerker fourth novel. Before Barbara Forbes, a mother of four, succumbs to terminal cancer, she leaves words of wisdom for her four daughters in the form of letters to each of them. In the year following Barbara's death, her daughters draw strength from her words and from each other as they move forward with their lives. Lisa, the eldest, is advised to "let someone look after [her]" for a change. Jennifer, "fragile and hard to reach," struggles with an unraveling marriage. Free-spirited Amanda is thrown for a loop by a family secret, and teenaged Hannah, experiencing her first taste of rebellion, is reminded that she still has a lot of growing up to do. Though Barbara's life-is-short aphorisms are nothing new, her sharp wit and distinctive voice is a nice complement to the four nuanced stories of coping with death. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Four sisters come to terms with the death of their mother over the course of one year, buoyed and buffeted by the letters and journal she left behind to guide them. Eldest daughter Lisa reaches a moment of truth with her boyfriend-to marry or not. Stoic Jennifer is at a crossroads in her marriage, complicated by the decision whether to have a baby. Amanda, consumed with wanderlust, wonders why she's always running away and considers what it would take for her to stay. And the youngest, 16-year-old Hannah, struggles to navigate her turbulent teenage years, mourning her mother while trying to comfort her father. Noble's fourth novel (after Alphabet Weekends) is a bittersweet yet ultimately uplifting story of love, family, and the bonds between mothers and daughters and among sisters. Letters and journal entries are sprinkled throughout the narrative, expanding the novel's focus to include the family's history from the very beginning and making for a sweeping, engaging, and comfortable women's fiction choice. Highly recommended for all public libraries.
A beyond-the-grave, mother/daughter heartstring-tugger, from the shrewd British novelist (Alphabet Weekends, 2007, etc.). No crying and no black at the funeral, insists Barbara, a 60-year-old mother of four girls, in the first of her to-be-read-after-I'm-gone letters to her children. Noble's story of how Barbara's daughters (and second husband) survive her premature death from cancer, aided by farewell letters and a journal, is an unashamed tear-jerker, with its lovable-but-flawed parent sending caring advice into the future to her four grieving but eventually happy girls. Noble assigns each of the main characters a more or less trumped-up problem or secret to be resolved, after which contentment reliably follows. Commitment-phobic eldest child Lisa mucks up her relationship with nice Andy by having an affair and not really wanting to accept Andy's marriage proposal, but she ends up walking down the aisle. For possibly infertile Jennifer, with her cooling marriage, all is resolved by a sex-fueled holiday and a proper chat, after which she quickly becomes pregnant. Amanda, the wanderer, needs to stop running away, digest the fact that her father was neither of Barbara's husbands and open up to flawless new boyfriend Ed. And young Hannah simply requires some space in which to grow up. A comfortable if formulaic and sentimental scenario, delivered in a light tone with professionalism and a straight face. Agent: Jonathan Lloyd/Curtis Brown
Read an Excerpt
Things I Want My Daughters to Know
Dear All of You,
Despite my controlling streak, there aren't too many rules, so far as the funeral goes. Do it as soon as you can, won't you? Good to get it over with. Lisa knows about the music, if you can bear to go with what I've chosen. We've talked about the committal—you know I only want you lot there, and you know which coffin, and which fabulous outfit. I'd like this poem—which, by the way, I love. Thank God for insomnia and the Internet—I'd never have found it otherwise, and you'd be stuck reading something yucky. It should be read by whoever thinks they can do it without crying, because that is my biggest rule. No crying, please. If you can manage it. Oh, and no black. Wear the brightest thing you can find in your wardrobes. Both are clichés, I know, but better the colorful one than the somber. And try and make the sun shine (although I recognize that this last one might be outside of your control). I'm not saying anything mushy in this letter—strictly business—but I daresay there will be other letters. I have other things to say—she says ominously—if I last long enough to write them . . . (don't you just love terminal illness humor?).
I'm sorry you all have to do this. I really am.
So, never-everending love, as always . . .
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond light on snow
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain
I am the gentlyfalling autumn rain
When you wake in the morning hush
I am the swift uplighting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight
I am the soft starlight at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I do not die.
(Isn't that perfect for a funeral in a field?!) Things I Want My Daughters to Know
A Novel. Copyright © by Elizabeth Noble. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.