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The Wednesday Sisters

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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 ...

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Wednesday Sisters

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In her light second novel, Clayton chronicles a group of mothers who convene in a Palo Alto park and share their changing lives as the late 1960s counterculture blossoms around them. Linda is a runner who tracks women's progress at the Olympics. Brett has one eye on the moon, where men are living out her astronaut dreams. Southern belle Kath isn't convinced she has dreams outside the confines of her marriage (but she's open to persuasion), while quiet Ally only hopes for what the other women already have: a child. Frankie, a Chicago transplant who has followed her computer genius husband to a nascent Silicon Valley, is the story's narrator and the ladies' ringleader, inspiring them all to follow her dream of becoming a writer. They write in moments snatched from their household chores and share their stories in the park. Though the narration and story lines are so syrupy they verge on hokey, Clayton ably conjures the era's details and captures the women's changing roles in a world that expects little of them. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Booklist
Set during the summer of 1968 in Palo Alto, California, Clayton's novel chronicles the lives of five women who conduct a weekly writing group at their neighborhood park . . . The women share their feelings about marriage and motherhood and together mourn the assassination of Robert Kennedy and watch as man walks on the moon and feminists protest the Miss America pageant. They support one another through illness, infertility, racism, and infidelity-and encourage each other through publishers' rejections. Readers will be swept up by this moving novel about female friendship and enthralled by the recounting of a pivotal year in American history as seen through these young women's eyes.
COPYRIGHT 2008 American Library Association
Kirkus Reviews
A story of female friendship in Palo Alto evokes the '60s, including the stirrings of second-wave feminism. Beauty-pageant protests, inequality for female athletes, daughters denied educational opportunities and many other not-so-subtle reminders of how far we've come pepper Clayton's predictable second novel (The Language of Light, 2003), which brings together Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett and Ally in a Californian park in 1967. Their friendship inspires a writing group, The Wednesday Sisters Writing Society, and also a support network as crises come and go: There are Ally's miscarriages; Linda's health scare; Kath's marriage problems. The women share confessions, rifts and revelations which edge them toward greater achievement, while behind them a stream of iconic '60s moments-the Olympic Black Power salute; the moon landing-and books (Love Story, The French Lieutenant's Woman) add period flavor. Characterized mainly by their problems, the friends inevitably undergo life changes by the end of the story: Ally finally gives birth; Linda runs a mini-marathon but suffers a medical setback; two-timed Kath starts a career; Brett writes an impressive novel; and narrator Frankie, who also publishes a novel, finally gets a college education. Formulaic. Agent: Marly Rusoff/Marly Rusoff & Associates
From the Publisher
"This generous and inventive book is a delight to read, an evocation of the power of friendship to sustain, encourage, and embolden us. Join the sisterhood!" —Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

"I read The Wednesday Sisters in one delicious gulp. With a smart, entrancing voice, Meg Waite Clayton sweeps us into the world of the tumultuous 1960’s and beyond, and gives us the gift of five young women coming into their own as friends, mothers, wives and writers. The Wednesday Sisters takes their writing group as its core, and up until the last page, I found myself fervently rooting for each of them as if they were my friends too.” — Lalita Tademy, author of Red River and Cane River

“Long before there were book clubs and play dates, there were the Wednesday Sisters–a group of women whose shared love of literature transports them above the pains and pitfalls of ordinary life. While these women may seem like typical suburban housewives, each character has an intriguing secret and a rich interior life that drew me into the story and held me there. This remarkable group of women demonstrates that no matter what period of history in which we live, no matter what race, creed or class we are, no matter what pains we endure, our one unifying salvation can be books. And this book reminded me of why I love to read."— Lolly Winston, author of Good Grief and Happiness Sold Separately

I simply could not put down The Wednesday Sisters.  I gave my heart to Meg Clayton's vivid characters, and I read their intertwined stories breathlessly.  Move over, Ya-ya sisters!—Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Forgive Me and How to be Lost

"Meg Waite Clayton gives us a group of spunky women–mostly young, married mothers–who make the unlikely decision in 1967 to form a writers’ group. Their diverse journeys over the next years in their writing and in their lives add up to a compelling and deeply moving testament to the power of women’s friendships. I simply couldn’t put The Wednesday Sisters down until I’d turned the last page." —Ellen Baker, author of Keeping the House

"Richly intelligent, deeply felt and incandescently original, Clayton's book is a rhapsodic story of female friendship, set against wildly changing times and mores. Not only is the book heartbreaking, funny, and undeniably smart, but truly, this is the kind of book you don't just want to pass on to all your friends. You have to."—Caroline Leavitt, author of Girls in Trouble and Coming Back to Me

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602852242
  • Publisher: Center Point
  • Publication date: 8/28/2008
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 375
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Waite Clayton is the author of The Language of Light, a finalist for the Bellwether Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, and literary magazines. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband and their two sons.

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Read an Excerpt

The Wednesday Sisters
By Meg Waite Clayton
Random House
Copyright © 2008 Meg Waite Clayton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780345507846



Chapter One

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, although we did at the beginning. We met at the swings at Pardee Park on Wednesday mornings when our children were young. It’s been thirty-five years, though—more than thirty-five!—since we switched from Wednesdays at ten to Sundays at dawn. Sunrise, whatever time the light first crests the horizon that time of year. It suits us, to leave our meeting time up to the tilt of the earth, the track of the world around the sun.

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.

•••

Brett’s gloves—that’s what brought us together all those years ago. I had Maggie and Davy with me in the parkthat first morning, a park full to bursting with children running around together as if any new kid could join them just by saying hello, with clusters of mothers who might—just might—be joined with a simple hello as well. It wasn’t my park yet, just a park in a neighborhood where Danny and I might live if we moved to the Bay Area, a neighborhood with tree-lined streets and neat little yards and sidewalks and leaves turning colors just like at home in Chicago, crumples of red and gold and pale brown skittering around at the curbs. I was sitting on a bench, Davy in my lap and a book in my hand, keeping one eye on Maggie on the slide while surreptitiously watching the other mothers when this woman—Brett, though I didn’t know that then—sat down on a bench across the playground from me, wearing white gloves. No, we are not of the white-glove generation, not really. Yes, I did wear them to Mass when I was a girl, along with a silly doily on my head, but this was 1967—we’re talking miniskirts and tie-dyed shirts and platform shoes. Or maybe not tie-dye and platforms yet—maybe those came later, just before Izod shirts with the collars up—but miniskirts. At any rate, it was definitely not a white-glove time, much less in the park on a Wednesday morning.

What in the world? I thought. Does this girl think she’s Jackie Kennedy? (Thinking “girl,” yes, but back then it had no attitude in it, no “gi-rl.”) And I was wondering if she might go with the ramshackle house beyond the playground—a sagging white clapboard mansion that had been something in its day, you could see that, with its grandly columned entrance, its still magnificent palm tree, its long, flat spread of lawn—when a mother just settling at the far end of my bench said, “She wears them all the time.”

Those were Linda’s very first words to me: “She wears them all the time.”

I don’t as a rule gossip about people I’ve never met with other people I’ve never met, even women like Linda, who, just from the look of her, seemed she’d be nice to know. She was blond and fit and . . . well, just Linda, even then wearing a red Stanford baseball cap, big white letters across the front and the longest, thickest blond braid sticking out the back—when girls didn’t wear baseball caps either, or concern themselves with being fit rather than just plain thin.

“You were staring,” Linda said. That’s Linda for you. She’s nothing if not frank.

“Oh,” I said, still stuck on that baseball cap of hers, thinking even Gidget never wore a baseball cap, not the Sandra Dee movie version or the Sally Field TV one.

“I don’t mean to criticize,” she said. “Everyone does.”

“Criticize?”

“Stare at her.” Linda shifted slightly, and I saw then that she was pregnant, though just barely. “You’re new to the neighborhood?” she asked.

“No, we . . .” I adjusted my cat’s-eye glasses, a nervous habit my mom had forever tried to break me of. “My husband and I might be moving here after he finishes school. He has a job offer, and we . . . They showed us that little house there.” I indicated the house just across Center Drive from the old mansion. “The split-level with the pink shutters?”

“Oh!” Linda said. “I thought it just sold, like, yesterday. I didn’t know you’d moved in!”

“It’s not sold yet. And we haven’t. We won’t move here until the spring.”

“Oh.” She looked a bit confused. “Well, you are going to paint the shutters, aren’t you?”

As I said, Linda is nothing if not frank.

That was the first Wednesday. September 6, 1967.

When I tell people that—that I first came to the Bay Area at the end of that summer, that that’s when the Wednesday Sisters first met—they inevitably get this look in their eyes that says bell-bottoms and flower power, war protests and race riots, LSD. Even to me, it seems a little improbable in retrospect that I never saw a joint back then, never flashed anyone a peace sign. But I had a three-year-old daughter and a baby son already. I had a husband who’d passed the draft age, who would have a Ph.D. and a full-time job within months. I’d already settled into the life I’d been raised to settle into: dependable daughter, good wife, attentive mother. All the Wednesday Sisters had. We spent the Summer of Love changing diapers, going to the grocery store, baking tuna casseroles and knitting sweater vests (yes, sweater vests), and watching Walter Cronkite from the safety of our family rooms. I watched the local news, too, though that was more about following the Cubs; they’d just lost to the Dodgers, ending a three-game winning streak—not much, three games, but then they are the Cubs and were even that year, despite Fergie Jenkins throwing 236 strikeouts and Ron Santo hitting 31 out of the park.

Anyway, I was sitting there watching Maggie on the slide, about to call to her to clear away from the bottom when she did it on her own, and I was just a bit intimidated by this blonde I didn’t know yet was Linda, and that occurred to me, that I didn’t know her name. “I’m Frankie O’Mara,” I said, forgetting that I’d decided to be Mary, or at least Mary Frances or Frances or Fran, in this new life. I tried to back up and say “Mary Frances O’Mara”—it was the way I liked to imagine my name on the cover of a novel someday, not that I would have admitted to dreams beyond marriage and motherhood back then. But Linda was already all over Frankie.

“Frankie? A man’s name—and you all curvy and feminine. I wish I had curves like you do. I’m pretty much just straight up and down.”

I’d have traded my “curves” of unlost baby gain for what was under her double-knit slacks and striped turtleneck in a second, or I thought I would then. She looked like that girl in the Clairol ads—“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”—except she was more “If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em” somehow. She didn’t wear a speck of makeup, either, not even lipstick.

“What are you reading, Frankie?” she asked.

(In fairness, I should explain here that Linda remembers that first morning differently. She swears her first words were “What’s that you’re reading?” and it was only when I didn’t answer—too busy staring at Brett to hear her, she says—that she said, “She wears them all the time.” She swears what brought us together was the book in my hand. That’s how she and Kath met, too; they got to talking about In Cold Blood at a party while everyone was still slogging through the usual blather about the lovely Palo Alto weather and how lucky they were that their husbands were doing their residencies here.)

I held up the cover of my book—Agatha Christie’s latest Poirot novel, The Third Girl—for Linda to see. She blinked blond lashes over eyes that had a little of every color in them, like the blue and green and yellow of broken glass all mixed together in the recycling bin.

“A mystery?” she said. “Oh.”

She preferred “more serious fiction,” she said—not unkindly, but still I was left with the impression that she ranked my mysteries right down there with comic books. I was left shifting uncomfortably in my pleated skirt and sweater set, wondering how I’d ever manage in a place where even the books I read were all wrong. I couldn’t imagine, then, leaving my friends back home, the girls who’d shared sleepless slumber-party nights and double dates with me, who still wore my clothes and lipstick and blush. Though it had never been quite the same after we’d all married. My Danny had seemed so . . . not awkward, exactly, but uncomfortable with my friends. And they weren’t any easier with him. “He’s such a brain,” Theresa had said just a few weeks before, and I’d said, “He is, isn’t he?” with a spanking big grin on my face, I’m sure, and it was only the doubt in Theresa’s eyes that told me she hadn’t meant it as praise. The conversation had left me feeling fat and desolate and drowning in filthy diapers, and when Danny came home from class that same evening talking about a job in California, I said, “California? I’ve always wanted to see California,” at once imagining dinner parties with Danny’s co-workers and their wives and weekend picnics at the beach and a whole new set of friends who would never imagine that Danny was one thing and I was another, even if we were.

Another gal pushed a baby buggy up to our bench just then, a big-haired, big-chinned brunette who had already pulled a book from her bag and was handing it to Linda, saying she’d finished it at two that morning. “No love story, but I liked it anyway. Thank,” she said, her y’s clipped, her i’s lingering on into forever. Mississippi, I thought, though that was probably because of the book: To Kill a Mockingbird.

Linda, polite as anything, was introducing us, saying, “Kath, this is Frankie . . .” Frowning then, clearly drawing a blank on my last name.

“Mary Frances O’Mara,” I said, remembering this time: Mary Frances or Frances or Fran.

“Frankie is moving into that cute little house with the awful pink shutters,” Linda said.

“Linda,” Kath said.

“In the spring, right?” Linda said.

“Maybe not that house,” I said.

“Oh, right. She hasn’t bought it yet. But when she does, she’s going to paint the shutters.”

“Lin-da!” Kath blinked heavily darkened lashes straight at her friend’s lack of manners. Then to me, “You can see why she doesn’t have a friend in this whole wide world except me, bless her cold, black heart.”

Kath said how pleased she was meet to me, her head bobbing and her shoulders bobbing along with it, some sort of Southern-girl upper-body dance that said more loudly than she could have imagined that she was an agreeable person, that she just wanted to be liked. I said, “Me, too,” nodding as well, but careful to keep my shoulders straight and square and still; probably I’d done a Midwestern version of that head bob all my life.

Kath began to unpack her baby from the stroller, placing a clean white diaper over the shoulder of her spotless blouse first, the careful pink of her perfect nails—the same pink as her lipstick—lingering on baby hair as neatly combed as her own, which was poufy at the top and flipping up at the ends the way it does only if you set it, with a big fat braid wrapped above her bangs like a headband. Not a real braid like Linda’s, but a fake one exactly the color of her hair. Still, it was easy to imagine that she slept propped up on pillows so her hair in big rollers would dry through, and that when it rained her hair might revert to disaster like mine did, even when it didn’t get wet. She wasn’t like my girlfriends back home, exactly, but she was more like them than Linda was. Not Twiggy thin. Not Doris Day blond.

Although Linda had lent Kath To Kill a Mockingbird. There was that.

“How old?” I asked Kath, glancing down at my own three-month-old Davy.

“This punkin?” Kath said, admiring her little Lacy. “She’s three months. My Lee-Lee—Madison Leland Montgomery the Fifth, he is really—he’s three and a half. And Anna Page—”

A young girl with Kath’s same chin, her same chestnut hair left alone to fall in its own random waves under a straw hat with a black grosgrain band, tore off across the park, the hat flying back off her head, tumbling into the sand behind her. She tripped and slid in the sand herself, and her dress (this smocked thing with white lace at the cuffs and neck) . . . well, you could see she was not a girl who kept her dresses clean. But she picked herself up without so much as a pout and continued on to the jungle gym, where she climbed to the top cross bar and hung upside down, her sandy dress falling over her face.

“I swear, she’ll be drinking bourbon straight out of the bottle before she’s eighteen,” Kath said.

Linda asked Kath who was coming to her Miss America party that Saturday night, then, and they started talking together about the other doctors’ wives they’d met—or the residents’ wives, to be precise. Kath had grown up in Louisville, Kentucky, and Linda in Connecticut. They’d both just moved to Palo Alto. They didn’t know any more people than I did, really. But they’d spent every Miss America Saturday they could remember gathering with their girlfriends to watch the pageant, like I had, all of us imagining taking that victory walk ourselves even if we were the homeliest things in town. Or Kath had always watched with her girlfriends, anyway, and Linda left the impression she had, too. She didn’t say anything that first afternoon about how lonely her childhood had been.<<br>
Continues...


Excerpted from The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton Copyright © 2008 by Meg Waite Clayton.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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Foreword

1. What do you think draws the women together in the opening scenes of The Wednesday Sisters? Is it, as Linda suggests, a shared love of books, or is it a shared fascination with Brett’s white gloves, or is it both or something else?

2. Twice in the novel, Linda attempts to ask about Brett’s gloves, but she is cut off by one of the other Sisters. Why are they reluctant to cross that line? What do you think the gloves symbolize? Do you think young women meeting Brett today would be as gentle about her gloves? Are there generational differences in the ways women relate? 

3. Ally enters the group in part based on an unspoken assumption that Carrie is her daughter, when the child is in fact her niece. Why do you think Frankie keeps this secret rather than sharing it with the others? Do you think Ally’s life would be different today, given the existence of fertility treatments and support groups? 

4. Why does Kath go so far in trying to win Lee back? Did this surprise you? Do you think she would have acted differently if the success of her marriage weren’t so important to her parents? If divorce had been as prevalent then as it is now? If she had been able to provide for herself financially? Would you, like Kath’s friends, be reluctant to counsel her to leave her husband? Or can you imagine giving her different advice? 

5. Linda’s breast cancer and Ally’s fertility issues cause each to doubt her own femininity, and leave their friends at a loss as to how to help them. Have you or a friend ever beenthrough a similar crisis? What has helped you hold on to your sense of self through tough times? How have your friendships affected this experience? 

6. Why do you think Frankie finds it so difficult to tell Danny she’s writing a book, when she has no trouble at all confiding this fact to her husband’s boss? Why are we sometimes reluctant to admit we have dreams? 

7. The old abandoned mansion–“a Miss Havisham house,” as Frankie’s husband, Danny, calls it, after the moldering mansion in Dickens’s Great Expectations–is a haunting presence through most of the novel. What does this house seem to symbolize? Does it mean something different to each of the Sisters? What does its destruction mean? 

8. Published books are mentioned throughout the novel–from The Great Gatsby to The Bell Jar to To Kill a Mockingbird. What role do these titles play in The Wednesday Sisters? Why do you think each of the Sisters chooses the “model book” she does? What model book might you choose yourself? 

9. The writing group the Sisters form in The Wednesday Sisters helps its members grow in self-awareness and self-confidence. Have you been a part of a group–perhaps even a reading or writing group–that has had a similar effect on you? What do you think of the author’s message that writing doesn’t have to culminate in a book deal; that it can feed the soul of anyone who works hard at it; that with hard work, it is possible to get better; and that writing can help one make sense of one’s life? 

10. In one memorable scene, the Wednesday Sisters gather in a funeral parlor and imagine what they can accomplish in their lives that will not perish with their deaths. Did this make you think about writing in a new light? What about motherhood? 

11. The women’s movement provides an evolving backdrop to the lives of the women in The Wednesday Sisters. How did you relate the experiences of the Wednesday Sisters to events in your own life or in the lives of women you know who lived at that time?

12. The Wednesday Sisters make a tradition of watching the Miss America Pageant every year. How do their reactions to the pageant change over time, and why? How does the pageant itself change? 

13. If the Miss America Pageant is one recurring motif in the novel, the space program is another. What similarities and differences do you see in the way the author uses these two iconic slices of Americana? 

14. Brett’s novel, The Mrs. Americas, posits a future in which a spaceship crewed by women and carrying a cargo of frozen sperm takes off on a mission to propagate the human race beyond the confines of our solar system. Why do you think Clayton chose to have Brett write this particular novel? 

15. In addition to exploring the empowerment of women and the prevalence of sexism, The Wednesday Sisters addresses other social issues. In what ways are race and class raised in the novel? What did you think of the Sisters’ reactions to the fact that Ally’s husband, Jim, was from India? 

16. Why do you think the author chose to set the climax of her novel on the set of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson? How does this scene compare to the Miss America Pageants described in the novel? 

17. Throughout the novel, the Wednesday Sisters’ friendships are complex, constantly evolving, and occasionally downright messy. Yet even as their bonds are tested, the group endures and grows stronger. What do you think keeps their friendships growing stronger rather than breaking apart? 

18. In an interview, author Meg Waite Clayton once said, “If an author makes me weep, I am theirs–though why so many of us like books that make us cry puzzles me to no end.” Do you share this sentiment? Why do you think readers respond to novels that make them cry? 

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Reading Group Guide

1. What do you think draws the women together in the opening scenes of The Wednesday Sisters? Is it, as Linda suggests, a shared love of books, or is it a shared fascination with Brett’s white gloves, or is it both or something else?

2. Twice in the novel, Linda attempts to ask about Brett’s gloves, but she is cut off by one of the other Sisters. Why are they reluctant to cross that line? What do you think the gloves symbolize? Do you think young women meeting Brett today would be as gentle about her gloves? Are there generational differences in the ways women relate? 

3. Ally enters the group in part based on an unspoken assumption that Carrie is her daughter, when the child is in fact her niece. Why do you think Frankie keeps this secret rather than sharing it with the others? Do you think Ally’s life would be different today, given the existence of fertility treatments and support groups? 

4. Why does Kath go so far in trying to win Lee back? Did this surprise you? Do you think she would have acted differently if the success of her marriage weren’t so important to her parents? If divorce had been as prevalent then as it is now? If she had been able to provide for herself financially? Would you, like Kath’s friends, be reluctant to counsel her to leave her husband? Or can you imagine giving her different advice? 

5. Linda’s breast cancer and Ally’s fertility issues cause each to doubt her own femininity, and leave their friends at a loss as to how to help them. Have you or a friend ever been through a similar crisis? What has helped you hold on to your sense of self through tough times? How have your friendships affected this experience? 

6. Why do you think Frankie finds it so difficult to tell Danny she’s writing a book, when she has no trouble at all confiding this fact to her husband’s boss? Why are we sometimes reluctant to admit we have dreams? 

7. The old abandoned mansion–“a Miss Havisham house,” as Frankie’s husband, Danny, calls it, after the moldering mansion in Dickens’s Great Expectations–is a haunting presence through most of the novel. What does this house seem to symbolize? Does it mean something different to each of the Sisters? What does its destruction mean? 

8. Published books are mentioned throughout the novel–from The Great Gatsby to The Bell Jar to To Kill a Mockingbird. What role do these titles play in The Wednesday Sisters? Why do you think each of the Sisters chooses the “model book” she does? What model book might you choose yourself? 

9. The writing group the Sisters form in The Wednesday Sisters helps its members grow in self-awareness and self-confidence. Have you been a part of a group–perhaps even a reading or writing group–that has had a similar effect on you? What do you think of the author’s message that writing doesn’t have to culminate in a book deal; that it can feed the soul of anyone who works hard at it; that with hard work, it is possible to get better; and that writing can help one make sense of one’s life? 

10. In one memorable scene, the Wednesday Sisters gather in a funeral parlor and imagine what they can accomplish in their lives that will not perish with their deaths. Did this make you think about writing in a new light? What about motherhood? 

11. The women’s movement provides an evolving backdrop to the lives of the women in The Wednesday Sisters. How did you relate the experiences of the Wednesday Sisters to events in your own life or in the lives of women you know who lived at that time?

12. The Wednesday Sisters make a tradition of watching the Miss America Pageant every year. How do their reactions to the pageant change over time, and why? How does the pageant itself change? 

13. If the Miss America Pageant is one recurring motif in the novel, the space program is another. What similarities and differences do you see in the way the author uses these two iconic slices of Americana? 

14. Brett’s novel, The Mrs. Americas, posits a future in which a spaceship crewed by women and carrying a cargo of frozen sperm takes off on a mission to propagate the human race beyond the confines of our solar system. Why do you think Clayton chose to have Brett write this particular novel? 

15. In addition to exploring the empowerment of women and the prevalence of sexism, The Wednesday Sisters addresses other social issues. In what ways are race and class raised in the novel? What did you think of the Sisters’ reactions to the fact that Ally’s husband, Jim, was from India? 

16. Why do you think the author chose to set the climax of her novel on the set of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson? How does this scene compare to the Miss America Pageants described in the novel? 

17. Throughout the novel, the Wednesday Sisters’ friendships are complex, constantly evolving, and occasionally downright messy. Yet even as their bonds are tested, the group endures and grows stronger. What do you think keeps their friendships growing stronger rather than breaking apart? 

18. In an interview, author Meg Waite Clayton once said, “If an author makes me weep, I am theirs–though why so many of us like books that make us cry puzzles me to no end.” Do you share this sentiment? Why do you think readers respond to novels that make them cry? 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 172 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(64)

4 Star

(54)

3 Star

(32)

2 Star

(12)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 172 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    An author to watch!

    Kath, Frankie, Ally, Brett and Linda are The Wednesday Sisters. They met in a park in CA in the late 1960s and developed a close friendship which spans over 30 years. These 5 women couldn't be more different but soon realize that they share an affinity for literature and share a secret desire to write. I really identified with Frankie. I am from Chicago and grew up in the 70s so I really appreciated all of the references to the Cubs and Northwestern University but more importantly I felt that the author really captured the Midwestern 'mentality' of the era. While reading I couldn't help but be reminded of all of the hardships my mom went through as a young woman in the 60s and 70s. She divorced when I was young and was an outcast at my Catholic Elementary School. I can see why Kath stuck it out! She was not able to go to college for the same reasons as Frankie. There were times when I laughed out loud and had to hold back the tears while reading. Meg Waite Clayton really captured the bond that women have when they develop meaningful relationships and friendships. I can't wait to pass this book on to one of my Wednesday Sisters!

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2009

    My past comes back to me!

    If you are over 60, graduated high school in 50's, graduated college in the 60's-the story of these friends is the story of your past. From picket fences, broken marriages, miscarriages, the horrors of early treatment of breast cancer, the rallies against Vietnam, the Miss American contest--it is all in this delighful read. I saw myself and friends in this. Just buy it and pass it on to your friends as I will do.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    The Sisters Have Their Moments - But Not Many

    The novel The Wednesday Sisters, while falling quite short of being original, does have its redeeming qualities. I'm sorry, but I'm tired of reading material from writers who only seem to be able to write about becoming writers. Am I alone in this? I know we're all told to "write what we know" but this is getting ridiculous.

    The characters in this character-driven novel fall flat at times. The stereotypes overwhelm. With the exception of one heart-wrenching scene, they fail to elicit much empathy. Even the ending was telegraphed.

    The writing style was sometimes simplistic but not without merit. The chronological cultural references were too numerous and too contritely stuffed into the novel to feel at all "real".

    The upside? The many truly great novels to which the the characters refer inspired me to go back and re-read several of them myself. I only wish the author had been able to capture more than a touch of their greatness.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    No more breast cancer stories

    WHY do authors feel it is necessary to insert breast cancer themes into almost every fricking book?? Enough!! I read to esvape, not suffer.

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2009

    A must read!!!

    This book is the best I've read since Blue July Sky. I'm so into the characters. All five are great in their own way. I think every woman can find a part of herself in each one of the Wednesday Sisters. This is a great book. Every one should read this.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Enjoyable!

    I had happened upon The Wednesday Sisters quite by accident, through a quick mention from an Internet site. I am I glad that I did. The characters and story were well written with a backdrop of the America of the 60s, 70s and beyond. The development of the characters, their relationship with each other and the times, was written with an eye to the many and varied changes America has experienced. Each character was clearly defined both as an individual and as to her place in the "group". Someone once said "Who you are is where you were when". That is true with this novel.
    Thanks to Meg Waite Clayton for a book that lends itself to book clubs, too. I can't wait to discuss it next year in our Third Thursday Book Club.

    The two books which I also recommend explore individual women and their unique place in their "group" and times. Enjoy!

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2010

    It'll have you laughing and crying

    What happens when mothers go to a park with their children? They find other women like themselves who enjoy discussing books that they've read. These 5 women also discovered that they would all like to write and be published. So, that's what they did. They set up a time on Wednesdays when they would meet at the park and critique each other's work. Some did get published & others went to work at a publishing company.
    It is also historical fiction in the fact that the story started in the 1960's and a time span of 30 afterwards. These women did not work outside the home but felt the need to write, to do something with their lives other than being a mother.
    The 'sisters' also became best friends supporting each through pregnancy issues, becoming single mothers, cancer,and husband & wives going their seperate ways yet coming back together again. Very much like reality at its best.
    I read an advanced copy of the books so it had some typos and it missed some words in it, but it was a very good plotline.
    A very interesting discussion read for book clubs.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    ¿You¿ve come a long way baby¿

    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

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A very touching book that I would highly recommend.

    I really liked this book because the characters really spoke to me. They were strong individuals but also flawed. They were supportive but not pushy. They would be the kind of women that I would like to be friends with.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Kritters Ramblings

    A wonderful book filled completely of the relationships between women - the ups and downs. I absolutely fell in love with the group of women and was sort of jealous of their relationships. The men in their lives made an appearance, but the women held the centerpiece

    Most of the time these books are told from each of their perspectives, but I was absolutely thrilled that it stayed from the perspective of the one character. I think that a sequel could be made and Clayton could take the group through their next phase from another person's voice.

    Although, I don't tend to enjoy some of the more historical parts of books, I loved how it worked into their lives. They attended rallies and were affected by the history of the times.

    I really enjoyed this book, it was so easy to get into and I was sad to say goodbye to these women. The women folk would definitely enjoy this book for the relationships and the events that affect their lives.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Could not get throught it!

    By the reviews I thought this would be a great book. It was very boring to me and couldnt even get through it. It was a book club book and everyone else got through it but painfully. They said it didnt pick up until around page 150 but at that point it was good. So I would not recommend it.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful Story

    This is a wonderful novel for book groups. The well-written story is about true friendship. I loved how the events of the times are interwoven with the growth of the characters. I fell in love with the characters and the story really made me reflect on how much I am giving to my own friendships. Highly Recommended.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2008

    Applause for this celebration of sisterhood

    I came late to sisterhood. A half-generation younger than the women in The Wednesday Sisters, many in my generation scoffed at unliberated women like them. Many in my generation sought to make their way in a man¿s world, using men¿s strategies¿strategies that felt uncomfortable and often did not serve us well. Yet, at the same time, many of us also became wives and mothers, where we were born again into the realization that the women¿s way¿generosity of spirit and the compassionate, nurturing sisterhood role model¿was the right way all along, the right way for us and for our ailing world. The Wednesday Sisters is the book I wish I had written about sisterhood. It transported me back in time to an earlier world that, at once and the same time, felt like home. I long for Meg Wait Clayton¿s next novel, for the next journey of the soul.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2008

    For girlfriends everywhere!

    This book reminds me of the Billy Joel song 'We Didn't Start the Fire' as it progresses through the lives of these wonderful women from Bobby Kennedy being shot until now. I haven't been so engrossed in a book, as I was with this one, in a long time. This book is a clear example of the power of friendship and how it can endure over the years. I laughed with them and I cried with them and I didn't want the book to end. And when I finished, I emailed all of my best girlfriends just to tell them I love them. This book is a must read for any woman with girlfriends!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    To us a nice word, "Familiar"

    I am part of a group of friends that meet every Wednesday, so one in the group thought it would be fun if we all read this. Well, she was wrong.

    It's ironic to me that she is writing about a group of women that are trying to be writers and the critiques that they give each other are exactly the critiques that I would give the author. The characters were broring and unlikable, their situations were trite and predictable and I felt like she was wtiting about herself the whole time.

    Now, granted, I am a man and I am not the intended audience, but never the less, it was just a load of garbage, but if that's what you're looking for, then you'll love it!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    BORING!

    The reviews on the back of the book sounded so wonderful and the idea of the story sounded good but I was soooooo bored! I gave the book about 100 pages and just couldn't bear to read anymore when I have other books sitting on my shelf! Oh, well!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Terrific book

    Great book about female friendships. I loved it. If you have ever wanted to write your own novel, then read this one. Great story.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

    Made me miss by writing group

    After finishing this book I got on Facebook to track down members of my writing group. Really enjoyed pieces of women's history in this book. A great one for younger women to read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2009

    A wonderful, funny story!!

    Meg Waite Clayton has beautifully written a heartwarming story about dreams, love and the power of friendship. The year is 1967, when five dissimilar homemakers meet in a Palo Alto, California neighborhood park and develop a close friendship. Wednesday weekly gatherings soon evolve into a writing group, where each could share something they'd written. Their friendship grows through their writing, as they learn about themselves and each other. They loyally support each other through personal problems, as well as learn to deal with the important issues of the times. Every year, they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant. Ms. Clayton has skillfully created intriguing, endearing characters and has brilliantly woven real-life issues and events into their lives. She successfully captured the prevailing mood of the late 1960's/early 1970's.exactly as I remember it. It was fascinating to view the advancing world through the eyes of her characters. Each year, the way they relate to the beauty pageant reflects their changing attitudes. I absolutely loved this captivating story! It reminds me of two truths.the therapeutic ability of sharing one's story and the importance of women's friendships. I highly recommend this uplifting novel!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Looking for your next book club pick? The Wednesday Sisters is perfect.

    I loved The Wednesday Sisters. I identified with Frankie from page one where she "shows" a group photo of the women describing her self as in a chubbier phase back then and admitting that the skinnier self is actually more of a phase the chubby self. I quickly came to love all of the women, seeing a little of myself or a close friends or family member in each of them. I love that although each of the women keep secrets from one another from at one time or another, the when the time comes to be honest the narrator reveals the full story to the reader at once. It ensures us that the friendship continues despite their differences. I love the support group the women give each other through their honest critiques of their writing pieces.

    The book has a thread of femininity and feminism unique to the 60s on first glance but many of their struggles with equality are still relevant today. The plot addresses how they are each affected by their choices to stand up for themselves or to be submissive without being overtly political. I was surprised to learn women were originally barred from the Boston Marathon and many Olympic events. As a child in the 80s I took it for granted I could participate in any sport I wanted, ironically I despised sports as a teen and choose not to participate but thankfully I had the choice.

    I just finished reading the book and am still thinking it over. I can't help comparing it to Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan in which 4 women build a lifelong friendship a generation after the Wednesday Sisters.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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