For week 23 of 52 books in 52 weeks I read The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton, a bestseller that was originally released in 2009, and made it back onto the list as part of a successful e-book price drop (more about that below).
The Wednesday Sisters tells the story of five women who meet in the sixties and form a writing club and, eventually, deep ties of friendship. Set in Palo Alto, California, the women of The Wednesday Sisters confront many of the choices and realities that women faced at that time: whether their own education had any value, whether they were entitled to careers of their own, whether even taking up something as simple as running was a radical act. They also confront universal issues: whether to stay in a broken down marriage, how to deal with infertility, how to survive illness, how to celebrate life.
Setting the book when she does gives Clayton some interesting choices. Because the book takes place over many years, she can, and often does, zero in on her characters during tumultuous events. As such, time and history become almost another character in the book, which is fine by me, since there's so much rich history to choose from at that time.
Clayton also does a very good job of fully realizing five distinct women, even though the book is narrated from only one of the women's point of view. The women could have easily been reduced to a simple variable -- the one who wears gloves, the one who can't have babies, the "real" writer -- but they're more multifaceted than that; more alive.
As an author, it's interesting to note the success of this particular price drop, part of a growing phenomenon generally involving one day price drops. The most popular of these are The Kindle Daily Deal and The Nook Daily Find: in both, the e-book price drops from its regular price to between $0.99-$2.99 and a mass email goes out to advise consumers. The result is often a huge jump in sales for that day with the brass ring being enough visibility to keep the book up high on the lists for a while after it goes back to its regular price. What's interesting about The Wednesday Sisters price drop is that it was in place for several weeks and had the same effect despite there being less urgency to the purchase (you didn't have to buy "today"). Whether this is a testament to the original popularity of the book or an emerging trend remains to be seen.
And now for something completely different, week 24's read will be Kahled Hosseini's new book And the Mountains Echoed. Hope you'll re reading along.