Nantucket Sisters

Author: Nancy Thayer

Novell by Nancy Thayer Nantucket SistersEvery so often I go on the hunt for a new author. I’m looking for an author who can provide me a good light read but also offer some depth of character.

Unfortunately, I can never remember the dozens of authors or titles recommended to me when crunch time hits. (I know, I really should write them down.)

Recently, I picked up “Nantucket Sisters” by Nancy Thayer. It was a random pick off the book shelf at my library. (which I love doing by the way) I’m always hopeful when I see a catalog of titles by an author because it means if I really enjoy this one, I will have more to choose from. So, how did I do?

Well I can’t say this one ticked all the boxes for me. Maybe I don’t fully understand the  category “light beach read.”  For whatever reason I struggled with this book. I just couldn’t get invested in the characters or the story. I wanted to, I really wanted to. Youth, hopes, dreams, friendship, love, and growing up all set on a beautiful island.

Nancy Thayer’s descriptions are beautiful. She has a way with similes and metaphors. Although at times, I found she really stretches her comparisons.

There are extensive descriptions of rooms, place settings, furniture and parties, and especially of nature. If you like plenty of sensory detail you’ll enjoy this book.

The story is about two young girls one is rich, Emily, one is poor, Maggie, and their friendship.  We all know this set-up. The rich parents disapprove of the friendship but are unable to prevent it. In the story, they don’t really try to hard to stop it. They just tell their eleven year old daughter that they don’t approve of it, but don’t ground her or hire a nanny or something to keep an eye on her while they socialize all the time.

So we have two girls from different social classes who are best friends. We see them at eleven, eighteen, twenty-two and then we see intervals of them every four years. They were both portrayed as level-headed girls who loved reading, were creative and stayed out of trouble. My biggest issue with the story was the how superficial everyone was.

There is no parental guidance or interference in the story. Emily is in love with Maggie’s brother Ben. In their teens, when they date, there is no objection by Emily’s parents. I mean it’s not even mentioned in passing. Classism is touched on but not examined. Part of me was like why are you bringing it up at all if it is not significant to the girl’s story?  It only becomes an issue when Emily wants to marry Ben and he is too proud and stubborn to commit to her because of her money.

Things that didn’t ring true. (Spoiler’s Below)

The girls never fought, not even once. Not even when Ben and Emily fought and broke up. This should have caused some tension,

Emily’s desire to want to become a conservationist on Nantucket Island to be with Ben, because this is Ben’s goal. Oh Emily, do we have any drive of our own?

Maggie is supposed to be the sensible career focused one, yet she uses her sex appeal, not her brains, or her wit, or even her charm, on two occasions to spite the rich Clementine.

She sleeps with Shane who she cares for but doesn’t really desire, because it’s time, you know, to punch the v-card. She attends college and studies English literature because she wants to be a novelist. After college she comes home and takes odd jobs, cares for her grandmother-in-law, and writes the occasional article for the local magazine. Where’s the drive, the ambition?

She is hired as a server for a wealthy family’s New Year’s Eve party and she lets herself be seduced by Cameron, a rich guest at the party who she just met, with the hope that they have a real connection. Not very practical is Maggie.

Maggie’s one night stand and resulting pregnancy. Hmm…yeah, her mother just supports her. No questions ask. No anger, no disappointment, no discussion about getting a job to support her baby. Just a calm acceptance. Healthcare anyone?

(I found the laissez-faire attitude surrounding the events in the book a bit off-putting.)

Emily dating Cameron (yep, Maggie’s one night stand Cameron) while she is broken up with Ben. Ok, so she dates Cameron. She never calls her best friend to talk about it. It’s very convenient that the characters act one way such as- I don’t want to call Maggie and talk about my new boyfriend because it might upset her because she’s Ben sister – then another – I miss Maggie so much, I can’t wait to talk to my Nantucket sister.

The parts of their lives that they share are very superficial. Best friends share the good and the bad.

I found both girl’s dishonesty strange. Maggie should have told Cameron about the pregnancy, and Emily should never have married Cameron in the first place. She has more than enough money to take care of herself and her baby.  He didn’t love her and she lied to him before the marriage.

When Maggie and Emily meet unexpectedly on the island while they are both pregnant Maggie doesn’t answer Emily about the identity of the babies father.  Emily immediately backs off.  It just didn’t ring true.

With all the conflicts that were presented I thought the story was going to test the bonds of the girl’s friendship. Instead the author chose to exclude, avoid, avert any real conflict and focus on only  small fleeting moments of connection between the girls.

In the end Emily ends up with Ben, and Maggie falls in love with an old friend and never divulges her baby’s father’s identity. I guess light beach reads aren’t for me. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief when I read, but this plot was a little far fetched for me.

Nancy Thayer is a talented writer. Her descriptions are wonderful, her pacing great. Even though this genre wasn’t for me, you may like it.

I give this book 2 1/2 stars.




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