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The Good Daughters: Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard's seventh work of fiction won't convince many doubters.

The Good Daughters: A Novel Joyce Maynard Harper Collins Dh77

Joyce Maynard is best known for having had a relationship with JD Salinger when she was still in her teens, an experience recounted in the discreetly titled memoir At Home in The World. Over the subsequent decades she has strived to carve out her own identity as a novelist. Alas, her seventh work of fiction won't convince many doubters. Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson are born on the same day in 1950, in the same town in New Hampshire. Ruth is a fanciful beanpole born to a stocky, pragmatic mother; Dana a thick-torsoed aspirant farmer born to a waifish artist who only wants to be surrounded by beautiful things.

The girls go their separate ways, and in alternating chapters narrate their adventures with sex, love, and grief, as well as their lingering sense of not fitting into their respective families. Don't second-guess yourself, you can see where this is going. Indeed, the twist is so heavily signposted there's little to do but enjoy the scenery on the way: a panoramic view of the hippy generation, seen from such a hurtling distance that the human figures all seem strangely small and still.

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