The B&N Podcast: Jennifer Weiner on Family Ties

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

In her many bestselling novels, from Good in Bed to Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, Jennifer Weiner’s characters are wildly various in background and temperament, but there’s one feature  — besides the author’s wry humor — they share:  they tell the truth, willingly or otherwise, to the people they love.  In Weiner’s sparkling new novel Mrs. Everything, she traces the lives of Detroit sisters Jo and Bethie from their 1950s childhood to the present day, and their divergent paths are connected by the undeniable truth of their bond with one another.  The author joined B&N’s Miwa Messer in the studio to talk about her own family, what it means when your mother might see herself in your fiction, and her determination to tell stories that reflect the truth of women’s experience.

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

This B&N Exclusive Edition includes a personal essay from Jennifer Weiner, as well as a discussion guide.

Explore more books by Jennifer Weiner.

Like this podcast? Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to discover intriguing new conversations every week.

Author photo of Jennifer Weiner (c) Andrea Cipriani Mecchi.