Monday, September 8, 2014

"The Girls of August": Why do people read books like this?

I caved and got a summer beach read, right as the last breath of summer descended in our area.  I blame the heat and humidity for choosing the schmaltzy book with the beach cover picturing two middle aged women lounging under a huge umbrella with their hands behind their heads in a totally relaxed position.

I needed something that I knew would be quick, and I wanted something more lighthearted than orphans or struggles or child molestation or any of the other tragic tales that I read this summer.  BUT while reading Anne Rivers Siddon's 19th novel "The Girls of August" I realized something.  Most books I read have a purpose.  They have some substance.  They give me something to learn or relate to.  This book, on the other hand, made me question how Anne Rivers Siddons ever became a best selling author.  Who reads this stuff and likes it?

The storyline in "The Girls of August" hurt to read.  It revolves around a group of wives (Maddy, Rachel, Barbara, and Melinda) who all have doctor husbands.  Each August the four wives go on a beach getaway together without their husbands (hence their very creative name "The Girls of August").  They stop going after Melinda dies in a tragic car accident (who the girls all blame on her negligent doctor husband, Teddy), but decide to reunite after being prodded to by Teddy's new wife, Baby, to join her at her family's idyllic beach house on a private island.  Baby grates on all the older women because they view her as childish and a sad replacement for their good friend, Melinda. Mostly it could be because she is only in her early 20s and all these women aren't.  They are petty and jealous and keep eyeing up Baby's hot body and commenting on how free she is with it.

I could go on, but there is really no point, because there was no point to this story.

Like no point.

The novel could have been renamed "The Mean Girls of August" since as tolerant as they viewed themselves, Rachel, Maddy and Barbara acted like gossipy high school girls out of some sort of 1980s John Hughs movie.  None of them seemed even a little bit gracious to be invited to this beautiful beach house or even try to act appropriately.  They openly rolled their eyes at Baby and treated her poorly at her own home.

Siddons tried to thicken the plot by giving each of the women a secret, but even the secrets were so very predictable and underdeveloped.  As a last ditch effort, Siddons even tried to throw in a climactic ending, but it all fell so very, very flat and dull.  The writing was so bad in spots that I actually stopped and read lines aloud to my husband like "Teddy and I were simply a bad fit, like hair spray and fire." For real? Yikes, Anne.  Maybe it's time to retire?

Maybe beach reads are meant to be fast and dull books.  Maybe this isn't a good example of Anne Rivers Siddons who by all accounts seems like a well loved and well received author of many books. Maybe I should stop being lured by pretty covers that have beach umbrellas and women with their bare feet in the sand and stick to the books that I know have something to offer me as the reader.

I know, next time I hit the "Hot Picks" section of the library, that I will choose more wisely.

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