After a couple of power outages (insert snicker here) I finally managed to finish Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble. Barbara, who is dying of cancer decides to write letters to each of her daughters. These letters are shared with them after her death along with one of her journals. As you can imagine, these letters tell of her love for them, what she hopes they achieve in life and also a secret that she had been carrying with her for quite some time.
First off, there are many daughters to speak of. I was a bit distracted by the number of daughters. There are four of them. Jennifer is married to Stephen and it not happy with her marriage. She is uptight and prissy. Lisa is a bit more fluid. She is dating Andy, a really nice guy and she’s not sure where the relationship is going or if she even wants one with him. Amanda is the “wild child”. Always moving, always off to another country. I really liked Amanda. She meets Ed and we get to see a softer side to her. Hannah is the baby of the family at sixteen years of age and she is the product of Barbara’s second marriage to Mark. I don’t feel that Hannah’s character really came through for me. She seemed very one dimensional and flat. However, I adored Mark, Barbara’s second husband. He seemed almost too good to be true but a great guy to have in the family.
My main problem with this book is that I really did not like Barbara. I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t like her. Her letters were a bit on the shallow side and her decision to share her secret in that way… I did not approve of it. I “get” that parents can be flawed. I’m a parent and I am in no way perfect. Not even close, but the letters were not affectionate to me. Not really. They sort of made me feel as if Barbara was a bit of a coward. Writing letters about stuff that probably should have been shared in person.
At the end, I was left wondering whose story this was. I felt that Noble tried to give the characters equal time but in doing so, I never got to hear any one character’s voice to its fullest. I also felt the end was a bit rushed. As if tying up all the loose ends was an issue. I really would have liked to have heard this story through Mark’s voice. He was truly the anchor in all of this.
As for a book club pick, I could see this being discussed by a book club. There are lots of issues to debate and question and the development of some of the sisters was quite good and I wanted to know more about them.
I received this book from Jennifer over at Book Club Girl as part of her online radio show with the author which can be heard here. The copy of the book that I received has a reading guide in the back of it which has some really good questions and includes insight from the author. If you’ve read the book, let me know what you thought of it.