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The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel
by Meg Waite Clayton

Published: 2009-05-05
Paperback : 306 pages
243 members reading this now
105 clubs reading this now
89 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 40 of 47 members
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Five women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship

When five young mothers—Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett—first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of ...
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Introduction

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Five women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship

When five young mothers—Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett—first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write a novel herself, and the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. The five women slowly, and often reluctantly, start filling journals, sliding pages into typewriters, and sharing their work. In the process, they explore the changing world around them: the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and a women’s movement that challenges everything they believe about themselves. At the same time, the friends carry one another through more personal changes—ones brought about by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success. With one another’s support and encouragement, the Wednesday Sisters begin to embrace who they are and what they hope to become, welcoming readers to experience, along with them, the power of dreaming big.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

Five women, one passion, and the unbreakable bond of friendship

When five young mothers-Frankie, Linda, Kath, Ally, and Brett-first meet in a neighborhood park in the late 1960s, their conversations center on marriage, raising children, and a shared love of books. Then one evening, as they gather to watch the Miss America Pageant, Linda admits that she aspires to write a novel herself, and the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society is born. The five women slowly, and often reluctantly, start filling journals, sliding pages into typewriters, and sharing their work. In the process, they explore the changing world around them: the Vietnam War, the race to the moon, and a women's movement that challenges everything they believe about themselves. At the same time, the friends carry one another through more personal changes-ones brought about by infidelity, longing, illness, failure, and success. With one another's support and encouragement, the Wednesday Sisters begin to embrace who they are and what they hope to become, welcoming readers to experience, along with them, the power of dreaming big.... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think draws the women together in the opening
scenes of The Wednesday Sisters? Is it, as Linda suggests, a shared
love of books, or is it a shared fascination with Brett’s white
gloves, or is it both or something else?

2. Twice in the novel, Linda attempts to ask about Brett’s gloves, but
she is cut off by one of the other Sisters. Why are they reluctant to
cross that line? What do you think the gloves symbolize? Do you
think young women meeting Brett today would be as gentle about
her gloves? Are there generational differences in the ways women
relate?

3. Ally enters the group in part based on an unspoken assumption
that Carrie is her daughter, when the child is in fact her niece.
Why do you think Frankie keeps this secret rather than sharing it
with the others? Do you think Ally’s life would be different today,
given the existence of fertility treatments and support groups?

4. Why does Kath go so far in trying to win Lee back? Did this surprise
you? Do you think she would have acted differently if the
success of her marriage weren’t so important to her parents? If divorce
had been as prevalent then as it is now? If she had been able
to provide for herself financially? Would you, like Kath’s friends,
be reluctant to counsel her to leave her husband? Or can you
imagine giving her different advice?

5. Linda’s breast cancer and Ally’s fertility issues cause each to
doubt her own femininity, and leave their friends at a loss as to
how to help them. Have you or a friend ever been through a similar
crisis? What has helped you hold on to your sense of self
through tough times? How have your friendships affected this experience?

6. Why do you think Frankie finds it so difficult to tell Danny she’s
writing a book, when she has no trouble at all confiding this fact
to her husband’s boss? Why are we sometimes reluctant to admit
we have dreams?

7. The old abandoned mansion—“a Miss Havisham house,” as
Frankie’s husband, Danny, calls it, after the moldering mansion in
Dickens’s Great Expectations—is a haunting presence through most
of the novel. What does this house seem to symbolize? Does it
mean something different to each of the Sisters? What does its destruction
mean?

8. Published books are mentioned throughout the novel—from The
Great Gatsby to The Bell Jar to To Kill a Mockingbird. What role
do these titles play in The Wednesday Sisters? Why do you think
each of the Sisters chooses the “model book” she does? What
model book might you choose yourself?

9. The writing group the Sisters form in The Wednesday Sisters
helps its members grow in self-awareness and self-confidence.
Have you been a part of a group—perhaps even a reading or writing
group—that has had a similar effect on you? What do you
think of the author’s message that writing doesn’t have to culminate
in a book deal; that it can feed the soul of anyone who works
hard at it; that with hard work, it is possible to get better; and
that writing can help one make sense of one’s life?

10. In one memorable scene, the Wednesday Sisters gather in a funeral
parlor and imagine what they can accomplish in their lives
that will not perish with their deaths. Did this make you think
about writing in a new light? What about motherhood?

11. The women’s movement provides an evolving backdrop to the
lives of the women in The Wednesday Sisters. How did you relate
the experiences of the Wednesday Sisters to events in your own
life or in the lives of women you know who lived at that time?

12. The Wednesday Sisters make a tradition of watching the Miss
America Pageant every year. How do their reactions to the pageant
change over time, and why? How does the pageant itself change?

13. If the Miss America Pageant is one recurring motif in the novel,
the space program is another. What similarities and differences do
you see in the way the author uses these two iconic slices of Americana?

14. Brett’s novel, The Mrs. Americas, posits a future in which a spaceship
crewed by women and carrying a cargo of frozen sperm takes
off on a mission to propagate the human race beyond the confines
of our solar system. Why do you think Clayton chose to have
Brett write this particular novel?

15. In addition to exploring the empowerment of women and the
prevalence of sexism, The Wednesday Sisters addresses other social
issues. In what ways are race and class raised in the novel?
What did you think of the Sisters’ reactions to the fact that Ally’s
husband, Jim, was from India?

16. Why do you think the author chose to set the climax of her novel
on the set of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson? How does
this scene compare to the Miss America Pageants described in the
novel?

17. Throughout the novel, the Wednesday Sisters’ friendships are
complex, constantly evolving, and occasionally downright messy.
Yet even as their bonds are tested, the group endures and grows
stronger. What do you think keeps their friendships growing
stronger rather than breaking apart?

18. In an interview, author Meg Waite Clayton once said, “If an author
makes me weep, I am theirs—though why so many of us like
books that make us cry puzzles me to no end.” Do you share this
sentiment? Why do you think readers respond to novels that
make them cry?

Suggested by Members

Your club members - would you want to pursue knowing them better or is it all about the club?
by birmanmom (see profile) 12/15/10

Like the characters in the book, at our meeting we tried 10 minutes of spontaneous writing based on a few items we placed in front of us. Wonderful moments of connection and wisdom emerged.
by julice (see profile) 12/11/10

What is the significance of the mansion and the white gloves?
by johna124 (see profile) 11/02/10

Check out Meg Clayton Waite's website. It's great!
by schultzmom (see profile) 03/26/10

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Twenty years into a wonderful marriage, I accepted my first blind date: to discuss The Wednesday Sisters with a group I call my LiteraryMatch.com gang. Like on internet dating sites, these strangers arranged online to meet at a bar-with the goal of forging a literary relationship rather than a romantic one.

I'll confess to being leery of joining them: Was this any way to forge a long-term relationship? But these readers who had no other connection than what my dad calls “geography suitability”-okay, and a taste for wine-was delightful.

When I stopped to think about it, this group wasn't much different from my own neighborhood book group. Or from the Wednesday Sisters, for that matter-who begin a five-woman friendship over a novel read in a park.

Friendships built over books are as common as … well, as internet dating now is. I've chatted with new groups inspired to gather after reading my novel, and ones who've met for years. Readers sometimes introduce themselves with: “I'm Linda, although my name is Mary or Beth.” Or, “I felt like Frankie when I first moved here.” And they share their own stories, allowing me to connect with them.

Ursula Le Guin says readers make the world with authors. “You give them the material, but it's the readers who build the world in their own minds.” I agree. My book group chats never fail to remind me how many amazing and thoughtful minds are out there, building remarkable worlds.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by chaggers (see profile) 10/03/18

 
by nbaker (see profile) 01/02/18

 
by Ktc24 (see profile) 10/09/17

 
by Mrboyd (see profile) 10/25/16

 
  "Wednesday Sisters"by ocreader (see profile) 03/10/12

 
  "very interesting read"by ShanaM (see profile) 09/24/11

 
  "Loved the characters and how real they really were!"by jtdefranco (see profile) 09/02/11

Everything aboutbthis book was believable and felt real! Loved sharing their journey and feeling their sorrows, happiness and pains.

 
  "The Wednesday Sisters"by LMCamp (see profile) 08/12/11

I just loved the characters in the book like they were my friends. The bits of history intertwined throughout the book kept me interested. I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen... (read more)

 
  "Enjoyable read"by kristinbluedog (see profile) 08/01/11

It was a nice book to read. No problem getting through it. It is very similiar to "Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons".

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