The Girls of August
Anne Rivers Siddons
I’m working on my library’s summer reading Bingo card and picked The Girls of August to fill one of the squares, to read an eBook from the library’s staff picks.
The Girls of August is a beach read about four southern women, Madison, Rachel, Barbara and Melinda, who become best friends when their husbands are in medical school. Every August since, they’ve rented a beach house for an all-girls week of sun, wine, food and gossip. The story, narrated by Madison, opens when the women are in their forties. After a three-year lapse, plans are underway to meet again, but this time it will be without their beloved Melinda, who died in a tragic accident.
After much discussion, the women agree to meet at a new place, but there’s a catch. Melinda’s husband has remarried and his new wife has volunteered to host. Problem is, the new wife, appropriately named Baby, is a free spirit and twenty years younger. She’ll never be able to fill Melinda’s shoes.
Baby’s house is located on the remote fictional Tiger Island where Baby grew up, among the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The women will be all alone, for two weeks this time, except for the Gullah people who live on the other side of the island. The house is gorgeous and fully equipped and Baby shows it off with pride. Madison, Rachel and Barbara settle in, but they can’t let go of Melinda’s memory. To ease their pain, they target Baby with snide remarks and eye rolls. To be fair, Baby is a puzzle. On the surface, she’s immature, acts erratically and prances around the rooms and on the beach half-naked and sometimes naked! Is she reacting to the women or are the women reacting to Baby? In addition Madison senses trouble with her dear friends. Barbara hasn’t stopped drinking since they arrived and Rachel’s dark mood frightens her.
Small calamities, storms and plenty of drama frame this story about friendship and acceptance. To be honest, these weren’t my kind of women. The older friends are selfish and petty, the kind who wield power from inside their clique. Readers will learn more about Baby’s life and why she acts mysteriously. That makes her the most relatable, but none of the characters are fully developed. Siddons also brings the culture of the Gullah people into the story to tie together some of the plot lines. I thought this was the most interesting part of the book.
Anne Rivers Siddons was an American writer of nineteen novels, including The House Next Door (1978), Peachtree Road (1988) and Outer Banks (1991). I realized later that I read Peachtree Road years ago! The Girls of August (2014) was her last novel. Reader reviews suggest it wasn’t her best and I’m thinking about going back to her earlier books to get a better taste of her stories, including Peachtree Road because I don’t remember much! Have you read any of Siddons’ books? Which would you recommend? Leave a comment!
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