The Girls of August
Hardcover, 240 pages
Grand Central Publishing, 8 July 2014
Four friends gather for an annual beach vacation, each year renting a house in a new location. This began as a way to get away while their husbands were all in medical school together, and has become a way to reconnect with one another, calling each other the Girls of August. When one of them dies tragically, their vacations are brought to a halt and their friendships gradually dwindle away. When the widower remarries, the three women agree to a vacation to meet the new wife, a much younger woman who doesn't quite fit into the group. Their vacation on the South Carolina coast will reveal the changes the women have undergone since their last time together.
I'm not entirely sure where to start with this review, because I almost didn't finish the book. At 240 pages it was a quick read, which was an incredibly good thing. Had it taken more than two or three hours to read this book, I would have put it down. I was looking forward to a sweet, touching book about women supporting each other through their friendships, and instead I got a ridiculous, scrambled book about women acting like mean middle school girls.
The characters were flat, cardboard people that Siddons apparently couldn't be bothered to develop. Until one of the characters began acting erratic and a major life event was revealed about halfway through the book, I honestly kept confusing two of the characters because there was so little depth to either of their characters. What Siddons did reveal about their personalities through their behaviors was so hateful and mean that I couldn't imagine she was writing about characters she liked. Grown women were catty, sarcastic, and downright cruel and bullying to one another. Apparently this was because some of them were "going through things." I didn't find this in the least bit believable.
The writing was painfully simple and uninspired. These women were vacationing on a beautiful semi-private island off the coast of South Carolina and Siddons spent more time describing the decor of the house and the details of their food than the supposedly beautiful locale. The story itself was jumbled and made no sense. The women spend most of their trip bitching, sniping, and being generally unfriendly to the new wife and eventually even to each other. Accusations of assault, sabotage, and affairs abound, and in the end...well, the ending came out of no where and made absolutely no sense. When the bomb was dropped regarding a major event in the life of one of the women...I hardly paused in my reading. There was so little build up to the announcement that I couldn't bring myself to care. That, to me, is the sign of an unsuccessful book.
(I received a copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)