Judith D Collins
The Girls of August
By Anne Rivers Siddons
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 7/8/2014
My Rating: 3 Stars
Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter.
Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships.
They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast.
There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.
A special thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
THE GIRLS OF AUGUST by Anne Rivers Siddons, is a tale of four women who were friends back in their twenties, who get together for a special week in August at a beach house, every year until a tragedy occurred and they grow apart. Of all the fifteen summer houses, the first one was the best. In the early days the girls chose a spot along the northern Gulf Coast because it was within shouting distance of Nashville and Vanderbilt’s med school, where they were stationed, as if life in med school were akin to military service. Given the long hours with life or death decisions, the military allusion bore some merit. The first trip was Beautiful Point Clear, Alabama, the house had belonged to Teddy’s first wife, Cornelia, who would ultimately leave Teddy a few months after he went into private practice for a for a college boyfriend whose family boasted as much money as her own, taking her wonderful beach house with her. The sad part. They did not mourn Cornelia, nor did Teddy, but they missed her beach house! Afterwards they all took turns finding the next August’s beach house, but none was as perfect as the Colleton’s (similar to a first love) which we always remember fondly. Of course, this was before they grew wiser, more cautious, cynical, and before their problems. After a decade and a half of never missing an August together, they are approaching middle age, fretting over crow’s feet, and reaching for skin cream. Life is different now, as these same women are in their forties, unlike when they were back in their twenties before husbands (and when they were residents in med school), children, and the accident. When one of the wives dies, the Girls of August stop gathering as it is too painful and difficult for them to overcome. For the past three years, ever since Melinda’s tragic accidental death, Teddy drunk at the wheel—the girls have stayed home, but then this summer, Baby, Teddy’s 20-something third wife, entices them to familiar Siddons territory— the South Carolina barrier islands. Baby’s opulent home is located on the deserted and fictional Tiger Island, virtually unpopulated except for a resident enclave of Gullah people. As the girls gather in a new beach house after their hiatus, they must learn to accept the new wife into their circle as well as accepting their own changing lives. Three old friends and one new one, try and revive a vacation tradition. With all sorts of crazy adventures, and storms, these friends come to terms with their differences and find some crazy sort of unity in the middle of their marriage conflicts, affairs, divorce, infertility, and health issues. They stick together in the face of a broken family, broken vows, broken hearts, and looming death. I have not read Siddons for a number of years (since leaving Atlanta), so thought I would give THE GIRLS OF AUGUST, a whirl. Fans of Nancy Thayer, Elin Hilderbrand, or Holly Chamberlain may enjoy; however, not up to par, or in the same class as Dorothea Benton Frank and Mary Alice Monroe. Ok, if you are looking for a light read without, a lot of depth.