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The Shortest Distance Between Two Women

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Bestselling author Kris Radish takes the emotional measure of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends in her wise and wonderful new novel of a woman unsure if she’s on the verge of a breakdown—or a breakthrough.… After all these years is there any way you would see me again? When Emma Lauryn Gilford heard the voice on her answering machine, she thought, How dare he? Bestselling author Kris Radish takes the emotional measure of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends in her wise and wonderful new novel of a woman unsure if she’s on the verge of a breakdown—or a breakthrough.… After all these years is there any way you would see me again? When Emma Lauryn Gilford heard the voice on her answering machine, she thought, How dare he? She’s put a lot of distance between herself and Samuel, filling her life with work and family, lavishing her attention on her lovely nieces and a garden that’s the pride of Higgins, South Carolina. So why does his voice still have the power to make her heart skip? Why can’t she stop thinking about this man she’d forgotten so long ago? Emma has always been the dependable daughter, the mediator of the controlled chaos always surrounding her high-strung sisters and her widowed mother, Higgins’s own senior citizen seductress. But with the annual Gilford family reunion just around the corner, at least two of her sisters approaching meltdown, and her favorite teenage niece taking sanctuary in her home, Emma’s concrete wall of self-denial is showing cracks. And on the other side is a life she can’t put off living a moment longer.


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Bestselling author Kris Radish takes the emotional measure of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends in her wise and wonderful new novel of a woman unsure if she’s on the verge of a breakdown—or a breakthrough.… After all these years is there any way you would see me again? When Emma Lauryn Gilford heard the voice on her answering machine, she thought, How dare he? Bestselling author Kris Radish takes the emotional measure of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends in her wise and wonderful new novel of a woman unsure if she’s on the verge of a breakdown—or a breakthrough.… After all these years is there any way you would see me again? When Emma Lauryn Gilford heard the voice on her answering machine, she thought, How dare he? She’s put a lot of distance between herself and Samuel, filling her life with work and family, lavishing her attention on her lovely nieces and a garden that’s the pride of Higgins, South Carolina. So why does his voice still have the power to make her heart skip? Why can’t she stop thinking about this man she’d forgotten so long ago? Emma has always been the dependable daughter, the mediator of the controlled chaos always surrounding her high-strung sisters and her widowed mother, Higgins’s own senior citizen seductress. But with the annual Gilford family reunion just around the corner, at least two of her sisters approaching meltdown, and her favorite teenage niece taking sanctuary in her home, Emma’s concrete wall of self-denial is showing cracks. And on the other side is a life she can’t put off living a moment longer.

30 review for The Shortest Distance Between Two Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is a story of relationships among women: mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. As in Radish's other works, this story explores the nature of women's relationships, and the stumbling blocks and hurdles that women help each other overcome. In The Shortest Distance Between Two Women Emma, a forty-three-year old single woman and the youngest of four daughters, is struggling to find her place in a life she has neglected for far too long in favor of offering her unending help and support to e This is a story of relationships among women: mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. As in Radish's other works, this story explores the nature of women's relationships, and the stumbling blocks and hurdles that women help each other overcome. In The Shortest Distance Between Two Women Emma, a forty-three-year old single woman and the youngest of four daughters, is struggling to find her place in a life she has neglected for far too long in favor of offering her unending help and support to everyone around her. Suddenly, she receives a phone call from a long-lost love and realizes that she must make some changes to her life if she is ever to be truly happy. The real question is: how does she start? The narrative is framed by a series of thirty-one questions, each of which heads off a chapter. This is one of the most inventive elements of the book, and really helps to pull the plot forward. The story moves quite quickly as Emma searches for answers to each of the questions shakes her out of her comfort zone in a very realistic and tangible way. Most readers may be able to remember a time that they were similarly shaken from their comfort zone by an apparently insignificant question. The novel takes place in Higgins, South Carolina, and is a story of Southern women as much as anything else. Their lifestyles, their interest in the family reunion, their close proximity to all of their family members -- these elements give the story a distinctly Southern touch. This is not to say that people in the Northwest don't have family reunions, just that this story encapsulates a feeling of the Southeast that is very true to reality. For that, Radish should be commended. Aside from the dialogue, the story is really quite believable. The dialogue, though, and much of the narrative in general, simply do not flow well. Let me preface this comment by stating that, as an ARC, my copy of the book has a lot of errors in grammar, punctuation, etc. that I assume will be corrected by the time of final publication. However, the fact that it was an uncorrected proof cannot account for what I found to be overall poor writing and trite turns of phrase and plot. Much of the dialogue is so sugary-sweet as to be unbelievable, especially for Stephie's character -- sixteen-year-olds just don't talk so profoundly with such frequency. I also take issue with some of the female empowerment that goes on in the novel, seemingly at the expense of everyone else. What are listed in this novel as female struggles are really everyone struggles, and I was frustrated that the perspective seemed so one-sided. One passage that was particularly exclusive is as follows: Susie tells her that there are few women alive who do not feel as if they have been swallowed whole by their family obligations. And fewer women who do not wish they had made different choices and not married this man, or waited for this one thing, or had one more child or given up a career or not have a career or missed out on an opportunity because someone they are related to didn't think that was the right direction. [...:] And hardly any women at all who are not bound by the love of a family, entangled in the memory of some tragedy, by the frightening notion that maybe they are doing the same things to their children, the people they love, that someone did to them. "Well..." Emma stammers because she realizes Susie Dell has just told her the truth of female life. When I read this passage I almost wanted to throw the book. It's not the "truth of female life," it's life. One of my strongest criticisms of this book is that it takes everything that is just life and makes a huge deal of it. Nothing that happens in the story is particularly extraordinary, but everything seems to be written as a gut-wrenching big deal. Perhaps Radish had intended this to be a tear-jerker, but instead it just felt canned. The story didn't so much conclude as end, and there were a lot of loose ends that remained unresolved. Certainly, a reader could formulate a conclusion with little imagination, but the novel's end has an unpolished feel, as if Radish sort of got tired of writing it about halfway through, and didn't bother revising when she was done in order to tighten up the plot and the dialogue and otherwise make this as complete a novel as some of her others. I enjoyed The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, and was disappointed to find that this novel fell so far below that standard.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    I received this a Free ARC from Goodreads giveaway. I gave it 5 stars. Rare for me, let me say I really enjoyed it. This is one book I found entertaining. The Summary is a good indication of the story line. The truly winning aspect of this novel is the family dynamincs. If you come from a large or extended family you have experinced some of these trials and antics already. Not to this degree and level of hilarity. Even if you not familar with the luntics of a family like the Gilford's, you will w I received this a Free ARC from Goodreads giveaway. I gave it 5 stars. Rare for me, let me say I really enjoyed it. This is one book I found entertaining. The Summary is a good indication of the story line. The truly winning aspect of this novel is the family dynamincs. If you come from a large or extended family you have experinced some of these trials and antics already. Not to this degree and level of hilarity. Even if you not familar with the luntics of a family like the Gilford's, you will wish you were a part of this mob. The main character feels overloaded and yet uninvolved. Odd I know are those two contradicting states. Lots to do and still the last one to know. She is never the first concern for any other person in her family or personal relationships at the intial view. Emma is shown how important to this group she really is. For myself I can say I'm the unmarried maidenly second mother/auntie/godmother to my own slew of cousins and godchildren. To be needed is wonderful and consuming, as Emma finds. But sometimes you wonder are you truly part of the family or just the work horse to be abused. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, and open up your heart a little. Laugh out loud.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I really enjoyed this book, and thought it spoke directly to me in parts. At times, there were some confusing elements to the writing, but overall I enjoyed the character development, and particularly the growth of the main character as she learned things about herself from an adult perspective. If you know me, you know I like a tidy ending. This one was interesting for me as I didn't get to see the complete ending unfold, rather the parts I was curious about were just about to happen. I felt sa I really enjoyed this book, and thought it spoke directly to me in parts. At times, there were some confusing elements to the writing, but overall I enjoyed the character development, and particularly the growth of the main character as she learned things about herself from an adult perspective. If you know me, you know I like a tidy ending. This one was interesting for me as I didn't get to see the complete ending unfold, rather the parts I was curious about were just about to happen. I felt satisfied knowing what direction she was headed in at the end. The themes I most enjoyed centered around family and particularly the relationship between sisters. I loved that this book took the real life approach of showing the sisters incredibly ticked off at one another, yet still banding together to help each other out in their time of need. I think sister relationships are like that. No matter how much you fight, you know the next day you can call them up and while it might not be fine, it's good enough to complain about someone else :) With that said, I want to post an excerpt from the novel that spoke directly to me: "...there are few women alive who do not feel as if they have been swallowed whole by their family obligations. And fewer women who do not wish that they had made different choices and not married his man, or waited for this one thing, or had one more child or given up a career or not had a career or missed out on an opportunity because someone they are related to didn't think that was the right direction. Fewer women than that who can stand up and pound their own chests and roar from the center of their souls and just say "Hey listen, you can say what you want and what you feel but when the curtain drops I am going to do what I want and feel". And hardly any women at all who are not bound by the love of family, entangled in the memory of some tragedy, by the frightening notion that maybe they are doing the same things to their children, the people they love, that someone did to them." (p. 182) I really do recommend this book, and feel like it was a thoughtful piece with a perspective on relationships that I needed to hear. I woke back up at 1:30am to finish it up.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessika

    Reading this book made me wish that I had a sister (or two), and it made me reflect on my own crazy family. To be honest, this was probably more of a 3.5 star read for me. There were things I liked & things I didn't, but for the most part, I really enjoyed this book. From the start, I will say that it definitely took me several chapters to get used to Radish's writing style. I'm not sure what exactly you call it, but it was a mixture of third person present & stream-of-consciousness. Once I got Reading this book made me wish that I had a sister (or two), and it made me reflect on my own crazy family. To be honest, this was probably more of a 3.5 star read for me. There were things I liked & things I didn't, but for the most part, I really enjoyed this book. From the start, I will say that it definitely took me several chapters to get used to Radish's writing style. I'm not sure what exactly you call it, but it was a mixture of third person present & stream-of-consciousness. Once I got used to it, I didn't mind it as much. I felt more engrossed in the story because it made me feel more focused. While this cast of characters certainly isn't my favorite of all time, I still thought they were a distinctly unique crew. I think Marty & Stephie were my favorites. Emma was a good main character, but she is very flawed, and I think that's why people have a hard time with her. I wouldn't go so far as to say she's unlikeable, she's just human--with good traits & bad ones. I wasn't necessarily able to relate to her, but I really did enjoy her journey. As for Marty & Stephie, they were just so vibrant and full of life & sass. This was a great look at relationships, family, women in particular, and just life in general. This book was made for summertime & front porch sittin'. I only wish there was more of a feeling of the South. Oh, and that cover is just awful. Overall, I really liked this. I've heard this one isn't one of the Radish's best, but I liked it, so I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Terri Tinkel

    I read an advance reading copy of this book. It has been published by now so I am sure any of the few errors I saw have been corrected. This is one of my favorite themes in a story. It's about four sisters and their extended family. The book takes place during the time when the annual Gilford reunion is being planned. The planning book is the size of a New York phone book. Each chapter starts out with a question. "After all these years is there any chance in sweet hell you would see me again?" o I read an advance reading copy of this book. It has been published by now so I am sure any of the few errors I saw have been corrected. This is one of my favorite themes in a story. It's about four sisters and their extended family. The book takes place during the time when the annual Gilford reunion is being planned. The planning book is the size of a New York phone book. Each chapter starts out with a question. "After all these years is there any chance in sweet hell you would see me again?" or "Did you hear that Uncle Rick ran off with a chick with red hair?" or "Who in the hell was supposed to order the meat?" There are a lot of characters and a lot of misunderstandings, rumors, theories, questions and answere before the book finally ends. This paperback has 339 pages and it would be perfect to tuck into your purse or your suitcase for a weekend trip. Try it, I think you will like it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Quirky, fun book about a mother and her four daughters and the dynamics and intricacies of their relationships....most of the book surrounds a huge family reunion and how the youngest of the clan is being held responsible for all the arrangements...how she finds herself and helps others find themselves..that choices must be made in order for life to move on and all the lessons learned...how no matter what...even when you think the distance between two women is insurmountable...the distance is mu Quirky, fun book about a mother and her four daughters and the dynamics and intricacies of their relationships....most of the book surrounds a huge family reunion and how the youngest of the clan is being held responsible for all the arrangements...how she finds herself and helps others find themselves..that choices must be made in order for life to move on and all the lessons learned...how no matter what...even when you think the distance between two women is insurmountable...the distance is much shorter than you now and much easier to breach than expected...I won this on Goodreads several years ago and am glad I finally read it...I'd be happy to pass it along to anyone who is interested...just let me know...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kriss

    This was a very quick read and nothing to rave about but I liked it. It was a little cheesy but cute and exactly what I needed. I only wish being a member of my own family were this interesting. It made me remember that with everything good comes a little baggage. When the main character wanted to divorce her family I really felt it too I really disliked them, then when she loved them again I did too. By the end of the book I almost had forgotten about the bad stuff and was left thinking, man th This was a very quick read and nothing to rave about but I liked it. It was a little cheesy but cute and exactly what I needed. I only wish being a member of my own family were this interesting. It made me remember that with everything good comes a little baggage. When the main character wanted to divorce her family I really felt it too I really disliked them, then when she loved them again I did too. By the end of the book I almost had forgotten about the bad stuff and was left thinking, man that is how family is supposed to be! Remember the good things, forget the bad things and move on!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I'm sorry to say that this book did not live up to my expectations. I have read two other books by Kris Radish and they were much better. I only made it halfway through this story; the characters were just not believable and their dialogue was unrealistic. I'm sorry to say that this book did not live up to my expectations. I have read two other books by Kris Radish and they were much better. I only made it halfway through this story; the characters were just not believable and their dialogue was unrealistic.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

    This is a story about 4 grown daughters and their mother. Each year they plan and host a HUGE Gilford family reunion, but this year holds many changes. This book examines the relationships between the 4 sisters and their mother, and follows them through some big challenges and changes. Favorite Excerpt: Marty--mother Emma--youngest daughter "But, Emma, you have grown tired and unhappy. And your impatience with the world, with me, with everyone, needs to be addressed. You're not living, you're just This is a story about 4 grown daughters and their mother. Each year they plan and host a HUGE Gilford family reunion, but this year holds many changes. This book examines the relationships between the 4 sisters and their mother, and follows them through some big challenges and changes. Favorite Excerpt: Marty--mother Emma--youngest daughter "But, Emma, you have grown tired and unhappy. And your impatience with the world, with me, with everyone, needs to be addressed. You're not living, you're just existing. And that's a sin, my darling daughter. Emma stops her mother. She feels a mixture of sweet anger and sadness mingle within her chest. "These stories, Mom...they're stories I would like to have known so much sooner," she admits. "It makes me feel as if there has always been a huge hole between us and I never knew it. I am so confused right now..." "There are many other things I could tell you, many things that perhaps I should have told you, but until this moment I never felt the need to reveal those things," Marty answers quietly. "But remember I never knew about Samuel. We are all entitled to keep what we need to keep and then give it away when it is time." "This hold I feel between us, Mother, maybe it's because our lives seem so different suddenly. Maybe it's because of Robert, or my growing unhappiness at work, or the way my sisters and I have been fighting..." This is not the stuff they write about in books about mothers and daughters, Marty knows with all certainty. ...This is the stuff that can either make the distance longer or shorten it up in such a way that there will never be a gap again. "I know you see me as strong, and now maybe even a bit wild, but the truth, Emma, is that all fo these years with you alone and even years before that, when your father was alive, I was terrified that I might be letting you down in some way. I have the advantage in seeing how alike we are because I knew what I was like at your age, and all the years before that, and you do not have that knowledge." "The most important thing in the world is to be happy. That is why we are here and that is all that mattes. There has to be a moment when you choose happiness, when you stand up, raise your face towards the sun, and just grab joy and put it in a place where no one can ever take it away from you. Emma, you so need to do that. You so need to know also that I am here for you, as I have always been here for you, nad that not one thing I have ever done in my life was done to hurt you." And Marty adds softly, Emma, you need to stop blaming others. You need to see that everyone, even your sisters, wants what is best for you. Emma slides just an inch closer to her mother then and falls into her arms and Marty catches her because she knows that is exactly what Emma will do. And what Emma at first thought of as an unsurmountable distance between a mother and a daughter begins to disintegrate as marty rocks her grown daughter like a baby...and Emma feels the hard edges of her heart begin to open like a summer flower.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sidna

    This book did not live up to the hype for me. I've read two or three of Radish's other books and thought they were o.k. Recently our Book Club has read several books that featured people being tortured and murdered. I decided I needed to take a break and read something lighter so I picked up this book. Part of the problem with this book is that I didn't like Emma, the main character. I also felt that everything in the book was over dramatized. Emma is a middle-aged woman has never been married, b This book did not live up to the hype for me. I've read two or three of Radish's other books and thought they were o.k. Recently our Book Club has read several books that featured people being tortured and murdered. I decided I needed to take a break and read something lighter so I picked up this book. Part of the problem with this book is that I didn't like Emma, the main character. I also felt that everything in the book was over dramatized. Emma is a middle-aged woman has never been married, but she was very much in love with a man named Samuel several years ago. The reason they didn't marry wasn't that he ran off with another woman. He was a botanist who was sent to a foreign country to work. Why Emma did not go with him was never explained. On the first page of the book, Samuel has left Emma a voice mail asking her to call him. Emma is rendered comatose by the voice mail, but she does not call Samuel back. Through the more than 300 pages of the book, Samuel calls several times asking Emma to give him another chance. She doesn't listen to most of the voice mails, even though she is dying to talk to Samuel and find out what he wants. After several pages of this, I was ready to slap Emma and tell her to pick up the damn phone the next time he called! Although the book is supposed to be about mother/daughter/sister relationships, through most of the book the mother/daughter and her sisters aren't speaking to each other and seem to have no clue as to what is going on in each other's lives, even though they live in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone else. A good example of the drama being overdone concerns Emma's father. Emma is the youngest of four daughters. Her father died while she was still living at home. Although we are not told how old she was when her father died, I got the impression she might have been in her early teen-age years. She certainly was not a baby since all of her sisters had already left home. However, she has absolutely not memory of her father. We are told that she and her mother see each other every day and are extremely close, but she ahs never asked her mother anything about her father, despite the fact that he has been dead for several years. Emma enjoys gardening, which her mother and sisters seem to find odd. One day Emma's mother makes a big deal of telling Emma that her father also liked to garden. In fact, he wanted to be a professional gardener, but his family's prestigious position in the community precluded his being involved in such a lowly profession. Again, Emma is rendered comatose by learning that her father also enjoyed gardening. This same silly vein continues throughout the book. I would suggest "Much Ado About Nothing" as the title if Shakespeare had not already used it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I won an advanced copy of this book through goodreads. Since I received it right before leaving on vacation I, after first giving an excited once over (I have never won a free book before), added it to my already hefty reading pile. And I admit that even the prize of having in my posession a pre-release book could not derail me from first reading a newly relased book from one of my favorite authors. But as soon as I finished with that one I delved right into my prize. Even coming off reading one I won an advanced copy of this book through goodreads. Since I received it right before leaving on vacation I, after first giving an excited once over (I have never won a free book before), added it to my already hefty reading pile. And I admit that even the prize of having in my posession a pre-release book could not derail me from first reading a newly relased book from one of my favorite authors. But as soon as I finished with that one I delved right into my prize. Even coming off reading one of my very favorite authors, I really enjoyed The Shortest Distance Between Two Women. The story centers around the main chracter, a woman named Emma Gilford who- like every one of us- is dealing with family members, job stress, losses, gains, and questions about life. Nothing existential but nothing formulaic or tired either. I think the themes Emma dealt with- handling life and stepping back and dealing with it- similar to things I have gone through, spoke to me. It made the read not only entertaining but personal. Which is why every time Emma discovered something or worked through something I felt like a small portion of my soul triumphed as well. One of my favorite things about this book was how well developed and intersting Emma's family members are throughout all the pages. There wasn't one character I had trouble keeping track of in the whole Gilford clan, they were each so distinct and themselves. And, at least in relation to what I know of family, I thought that Kris Radish did a great job of capturing all the nuances that go on in every family life. How sometimes you can be overwhelmed by love for and from your family... and how sometimes you can just plain be overwhelemed and think you're having a mental breakdown. How they are the people in your life who can either make you feel cut to your very core or make you feel on an amazing high. The fact of the matter is that women interact in a certain way that supports families, discoveries, bridging generations, and every other gap and misunderstandings and everything in between. And at some point in our lives- if we are to grow up- we all need to decide to follow our own path, our own happiness, and to hold on to that feeling you get when you have on that dress you truly look amazing in... while accepting and fitting our families in as well. They will forever be our past and our future. For anyone who has a family or sisters, or has ever wanted sisters, this book, written in in Radish's wonderful voice, gives an entertaining and heartbreaking look into exactly what family is all about.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    Very moving, yet always a laugh.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    Kris Radish always has a resounding theme of women and their strength, alone and together, through all of her books. I first became a fan of hers because of that theme. I loved her characters, their idiosyncracies, their craziness, their uniqueness, and their ability to stand up (finally) and take what they want. I understood their pain, happiness, and especially their fear in believing enough in themselves to make it happen. Having said that, I have to say that Emma is the whinest, weakest, mos Kris Radish always has a resounding theme of women and their strength, alone and together, through all of her books. I first became a fan of hers because of that theme. I loved her characters, their idiosyncracies, their craziness, their uniqueness, and their ability to stand up (finally) and take what they want. I understood their pain, happiness, and especially their fear in believing enough in themselves to make it happen. Having said that, I have to say that Emma is the whinest, weakest, most irritating character of Radish's that I've ever read. Her family's crazy. Who's family isn't? She has a long lost guy wanting her to forgive him and give him another chance. She tries to ignore his messages, which just leads to a bigger fiasco. She won't stand up to anyone, speak her mind, or do anything that's for herself. Are you an ostrich? Where's your spine? I totally understand that, as Radish has her characters delve into, as women we all tend to lose a bit of ourselves in our families, our lives, our responsibilities, our careers, etc. It gets difficult to figure out who you are, seperate from your identity that is tied up in them. I think we all struggle with that question at some point in our lives. What I don't understand is how Emma lets everyone push her around so much. Why she's let her life become run so thoroughly by everyone else. Almost the entire book is spent, not in action or in dialogue, but in thoughts. Something along the lines of she thinks she should say...she also thinks she should say...she further thinks she should say...she wants to say, but doesn't....what she finally ends up saying is... There are even conversations that take place in such the same format. At first you think someone is thinking, then you realize that it's not reading right. So you go back, read again, and realize a character actually started talking somewhere in there. Overall, I just didn't care for this book. Which was a huge disappointment for me, such I am such a fan of Kris Radish. Though I did love other books of hers prior to this one, so I am not going to forget her as an author. I will still look forward to finding another title of hers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I won an advance copy of this in one the the book giveaways here at Goodreads. I was pretty tickled to find out I had won. Review to follow upon completion. UPDATE: I had a really hard time getting into this book. I didn't empathize much at all with the main character, Emma, who came across as whiny and neurotic. While she was busy freaking out about her widowed septuagenarian mother unashamedly having an active sex life and being forthright about many things I was thinking, "Rock on, Mama! I hop I won an advance copy of this in one the the book giveaways here at Goodreads. I was pretty tickled to find out I had won. Review to follow upon completion. UPDATE: I had a really hard time getting into this book. I didn't empathize much at all with the main character, Emma, who came across as whiny and neurotic. While she was busy freaking out about her widowed septuagenarian mother unashamedly having an active sex life and being forthright about many things I was thinking, "Rock on, Mama! I hope to be as vital at that age." The tension between Emma and her mothers and sisters seemed artificially inflated to justify the neurosis. Then there was the mysterious series of messages left on Emma's answering machine left by a man from her past. Again, Emma's angst over this seemed inexplicably disproportionate even when the reason was revealed. The omniscient point of view was somewhat annoying as was the author's tendency to rely on long lists of parallel sentences to ratchet up the tension. If that had been used with greater restraint it might have had a better effect. I do give Ms. Radish points for evocative turns of phrase which nicely conjured characters' sentiments or actions and help set a scene. I was easily halfway through the book before I really began to care much about what Emma's decisions about the phone messages or planning her family reunion would be. I was, however, touched by the relationship she had with her niece and how that developed over the course of the book. Similarly, the love her mother found was heartwarming. Unfortunately, there was an awful lot of neurosis to wade through before the book came to a conclusion. I don't mean to sound ungrateful for what was a free book. It's still pretty nice to have won a pre-release. I just wasn't all that impressed by this particular novel.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    In reality, I would give this one 3.5 stars. It was a perfect airplane/poolside book which is where I devoured it on a very relaxing weekend trip. Thought the characters were interesting and real. Some parts I loved: "Emma believes that she can hear her plants and flowers moving, shifting in place, preparing for nightfall, whispering the day's secrets through leaves and roots and the flowering branches that will blanket her entire yard by midsummer." "Sisters should be more than just passing acquai In reality, I would give this one 3.5 stars. It was a perfect airplane/poolside book which is where I devoured it on a very relaxing weekend trip. Thought the characters were interesting and real. Some parts I loved: "Emma believes that she can hear her plants and flowers moving, shifting in place, preparing for nightfall, whispering the day's secrets through leaves and roots and the flowering branches that will blanket her entire yard by midsummer." "Sisters should be more than just passing acquaintances at family gatherings, even if there is a thirteen-year age difference between them. Sisters should be open, no demanding, and stop and listen to each other, and be kind and caring. They shouldn't drink so much and yell at each other. There should be give-and-take and not what seems to be a distance the size of fifty Grand Canyons between them." "The most important thing in the world is to be happy. Tat is why we are here and that is all that matters. There has to be a moment when you choose happiness, when you stand up, raise your face towards the sun, and just grab joy and put it in a place where no one can ever take it away from you." "And then she covers her face with her arm and she thinks that if her flowers or anyone could see her just now that they would know that she has been a coward and judgmental and unforgiving and unforgivably afraid. So damn afraid." "Touching lives is fine, but overtaking them, erasing the lines, messing up direction--that's a no-no."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    I've loved every book of Kris Radish's that I read, and this one didn't fail at keeping my attention, a delightful story of family and their problems, sibling rivalry, alcohol abuse, gardening, reunions, and love. You name it, and its almost like every family, myself included, out there. Full of sisterly love and hate, hilarious and tender moments too. A fun read for me! From Amazon: Bestselling author Kris Radish takes the emotional measure of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends in her wis I've loved every book of Kris Radish's that I read, and this one didn't fail at keeping my attention, a delightful story of family and their problems, sibling rivalry, alcohol abuse, gardening, reunions, and love. You name it, and its almost like every family, myself included, out there. Full of sisterly love and hate, hilarious and tender moments too. A fun read for me! From Amazon: Bestselling author Kris Radish takes the emotional measure of mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends in her wise and wonderful new novel of a woman unsure if she’s on the verge of a breakdown—or a breakthrough.… After all these years is there any way you would see me again? When Emma Lauryn Gilford heard the voice on her answering machine, she thought, How dare he? She’s put a lot of distance between herself and Samuel, filling her life with work and family, lavishing her attention on her lovely nieces and a garden that’s the pride of Higgins, South Carolina. So why does his voice still have the power to make her heart skip? Why can’t she stop thinking about this man she’d forgotten so long ago? Emma has always been the dependable daughter, the mediator of the controlled chaos always surrounding her high-strung sisters and her widowed mother, Higgins’s own senior citizen seductress. But with the annual Gilford family reunion just around the corner, at least two of her sisters approaching meltdown, and her favorite teenage niece taking sanctuary in her home, Emma’s concrete wall of self-denial is showing cracks. And on the other side is a life she can’t put off living a moment longer.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This book is a carefree examination of life, relationships and perceptions from the viewpoint of Emma Gilford. She feels that she has given up her life for the sake of her family, only to find out that it was all her choice. She learns that life hasn't always been as she thought it was, that others saw her differently than she believed, and the things that she wanted to accomplish were still within her grasp. She learns to relate to the other women in her life on a different level once her eyes h This book is a carefree examination of life, relationships and perceptions from the viewpoint of Emma Gilford. She feels that she has given up her life for the sake of her family, only to find out that it was all her choice. She learns that life hasn't always been as she thought it was, that others saw her differently than she believed, and the things that she wanted to accomplish were still within her grasp. She learns to relate to the other women in her life on a different level once her eyes have been opened. I tend to like books that have a defined beginning, middle and end with a plot to follow, so this wasn't my "norm" in reading. I did find it a refreshing change. A few of the points that I had a hard time with was the amount of drinking--they find out one of her sisters has a drinking problem, but they continue to serve her alcohol. I also had a problem with the language, and I do understand that this is the norm in society today. The copy editor, who should have found the grammar and typographical errors, must have been not feeling well the day he/she checked this book, or just let "spell checker" do his/her job because I found several errors while reading it. In fact there were some sentences that I had to read a few times to get the meaning of what it was saying. All in all a good read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book is about Emma, a middle-aged, single woman reevaluating her relationship with her mother, three sisters, a niece, and a long-lost lover. At the same time a few family crises come up and Emma finds herself struggling to remain sane in the middle of an angry family. On the whole, I was disappointed with the book. The writing style did not grab me at all. Very little of the conflict was actually given in scenes, mostly it’s laid out as flashbacks. In fact, the reader is often told about t This book is about Emma, a middle-aged, single woman reevaluating her relationship with her mother, three sisters, a niece, and a long-lost lover. At the same time a few family crises come up and Emma finds herself struggling to remain sane in the middle of an angry family. On the whole, I was disappointed with the book. The writing style did not grab me at all. Very little of the conflict was actually given in scenes, mostly it’s laid out as flashbacks. In fact, the reader is often told about the results of an argument before we were even told about the subject of it. It’s difficult to feel involved with the story because it has a plodding feel, and a lot of the sense of conflict was undermined. Also, the characters don’t feel fully developed, and lots of the dialogue is pretty unbelievable. The characters' over-the-top reactions to even the simplest of statements seemed really forced - characters were often shocked beyond belief, even when nothing surprising or shocking was said.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    This was a pleasant and enjoyable read with a good message, although it was a bit too long -- the author tends to belabor her points with overuse of multiple parallel sentences. It's a story about four sisters and their widowed mother, living in a small town in South Carolina and dealing with various problems while also planning a giant yearly family reunion. The protagonist, Emma, is the youngest and quietest of the sisters, and the only one who's single. The book opens with her finding a messa This was a pleasant and enjoyable read with a good message, although it was a bit too long -- the author tends to belabor her points with overuse of multiple parallel sentences. It's a story about four sisters and their widowed mother, living in a small town in South Carolina and dealing with various problems while also planning a giant yearly family reunion. The protagonist, Emma, is the youngest and quietest of the sisters, and the only one who's single. The book opens with her finding a message on her answering machine from an old boyfriend. The typical novel of this kind would bring the guy to her in about the middle of the book, and they'd be together at the end. Ms. Radish doesn't write it that way, and her book is the better for it. The book has good messages about family and about being yourself.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    I was a little disappointed with this book. I thought that I would like it more than I did, after hearing wonderful things about this author from coworkers and friends. They raved on and on about how funny she is. I found this book just to be okay - nothing spectacular. I was expecting to be cracking up - there were some funny parts, but no laugh out loud funnys........... Unless this was a departure from her usual style - I don't know, it was the first thing I read by her. I guess I also thought I was a little disappointed with this book. I thought that I would like it more than I did, after hearing wonderful things about this author from coworkers and friends. They raved on and on about how funny she is. I found this book just to be okay - nothing spectacular. I was expecting to be cracking up - there were some funny parts, but no laugh out loud funnys........... Unless this was a departure from her usual style - I don't know, it was the first thing I read by her. I guess I also thought I would enjoy it more because I am one of three sisters, and I love stories about family relationships, and the bond between women. It was good, although it took me a bit to get into it. Wish I had lower expectations, maybe I would have enjoyed it more..............

  21. 4 out of 5

    Faye Filson

    I won this book her on Goodreads advance read giveaway, and I just finished it today. It is a very good book, funny, sad, silly, focusing on family and sisters. I have no sisters but am very close to my cousins, so I could relate to issues the sisters were having and maybe even learned a thing or two about family relationships too. I thought, when I started reading the book that I knew what the ending would be, thought it was a standard "chick lit" type book, not so, I was surprised and delighte I won this book her on Goodreads advance read giveaway, and I just finished it today. It is a very good book, funny, sad, silly, focusing on family and sisters. I have no sisters but am very close to my cousins, so I could relate to issues the sisters were having and maybe even learned a thing or two about family relationships too. I thought, when I started reading the book that I knew what the ending would be, thought it was a standard "chick lit" type book, not so, I was surprised and delighted at the ending, and even shed a tear or two. I also liked the fact that, even though there were four sisters, I didn't not get confused as to who was who, which is sometimes the case with books with many siblings/characters. I definately recommend it!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    An easy read about a family that is gregarious, crazy and a little disfunctional. Emma is the youngest of four sisters. She is the one everyone goes to for help which she is eager to do so to make her place in the family. she adores her neices and nephews especially Stephie who struggles with her mother. she wants to be there for her. but when she recieves a message on her answering machine from a long lost love, Emma begins to wonder about her life and what she is missing. There are secrets tha An easy read about a family that is gregarious, crazy and a little disfunctional. Emma is the youngest of four sisters. She is the one everyone goes to for help which she is eager to do so to make her place in the family. she adores her neices and nephews especially Stephie who struggles with her mother. she wants to be there for her. but when she recieves a message on her answering machine from a long lost love, Emma begins to wonder about her life and what she is missing. There are secrets that come out that make all the sisters realize that things are not always as they seem. Some PG 13 language.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This book was terrible. I am shocked that it has as many stars as it has. The story over all, was a cute story, but the writing was SO annoying!!!! I was close to putting this book down and I never do that. Most of the characters were completely horrible, I disliked just about every one of them. And the writer had this annoying habit, that appeared half way through the book, where she would pick a phrase like "My mother didn't go there because..." and start about 10 paragraphs with that same phr This book was terrible. I am shocked that it has as many stars as it has. The story over all, was a cute story, but the writing was SO annoying!!!! I was close to putting this book down and I never do that. Most of the characters were completely horrible, I disliked just about every one of them. And the writer had this annoying habit, that appeared half way through the book, where she would pick a phrase like "My mother didn't go there because..." and start about 10 paragraphs with that same phrase. And this would happen every 4 pages or so. The same story could have been written but another author and have been a great read, as it was it was just torture.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I an a HUGE Kris Radish fan, but I was left a little more than disappointed in this book. It was too disjointed, and I kept waiting for the story to actually take place. I was very disappointed in the ending as well. It built up to what could have been a fantastic ending, but seems as though the author ran out of time and just slapped together a tidy wrap up and called it a day. All in all it was an ok read...I do love Ms. Radish's style and the depth of her characters...I just felt this one cou I an a HUGE Kris Radish fan, but I was left a little more than disappointed in this book. It was too disjointed, and I kept waiting for the story to actually take place. I was very disappointed in the ending as well. It built up to what could have been a fantastic ending, but seems as though the author ran out of time and just slapped together a tidy wrap up and called it a day. All in all it was an ok read...I do love Ms. Radish's style and the depth of her characters...I just felt this one could have been so much more.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marti

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was good read that explored mother, daughter and sister relationships in a wild and crazy family! Each of us have managed to be in a position of anger at one or the other of these important people in our lives yet we know they will be "there" for us when we need them! The Gilford family has trials and tribulations getting ready for the big reunion!!! Ride along with them on their journey to the reunion and understanding and if this makes you look at your own life in a slightly different off This was good read that explored mother, daughter and sister relationships in a wild and crazy family! Each of us have managed to be in a position of anger at one or the other of these important people in our lives yet we know they will be "there" for us when we need them! The Gilford family has trials and tribulations getting ready for the big reunion!!! Ride along with them on their journey to the reunion and understanding and if this makes you look at your own life in a slightly different off beat way- enjoy the ride!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I quit, 167 pages in. At issue: 1) Clucking hens. How anyone could take pleasure or interest in reading about a group of women bitching at/about each other at every turn is beyond me. Perhaps this is one for the reality television watching set of the population. 2) Digressions. Too many conversations and moments remembered inside of conversations and moments remembered inside of conversations and moments. I found it maddening to attempt to care what was being argued in the first or the second whe I quit, 167 pages in. At issue: 1) Clucking hens. How anyone could take pleasure or interest in reading about a group of women bitching at/about each other at every turn is beyond me. Perhaps this is one for the reality television watching set of the population. 2) Digressions. Too many conversations and moments remembered inside of conversations and moments remembered inside of conversations and moments. I found it maddening to attempt to care what was being argued in the first or the second when the others didn't matter much more to me, either.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    despite being a tad mushy, i did enjoy this book. the story itself was interesting and funny, and the characters were unique. though i must say i wish that Samuel could have shown up either at the reunion or at some point at the end of the book. i felt like that was too loose an end to keep dangling. and it was a bit over-emotional, though i will admit that i was close to tears at some points...and the jumping back and forth between present and past and the here-and-now and flashbacks did get a despite being a tad mushy, i did enjoy this book. the story itself was interesting and funny, and the characters were unique. though i must say i wish that Samuel could have shown up either at the reunion or at some point at the end of the book. i felt like that was too loose an end to keep dangling. and it was a bit over-emotional, though i will admit that i was close to tears at some points...and the jumping back and forth between present and past and the here-and-now and flashbacks did get a bit confusing. but, overall, not a bad read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    I wouldn't have finished reading this book if it wasn't our book club's selection. The premise of the story is the relationship between Emma, her mother and three sisters. Emma has always lived in the shadows, relating only to her garden. A message on her answering machine from a former lover forces her to wake up and make some choices about her life. I had a difficult time getting into the book. I found Emma to be too indecisive and too passive to be interested in her sudden anger at everyone ar I wouldn't have finished reading this book if it wasn't our book club's selection. The premise of the story is the relationship between Emma, her mother and three sisters. Emma has always lived in the shadows, relating only to her garden. A message on her answering machine from a former lover forces her to wake up and make some choices about her life. I had a difficult time getting into the book. I found Emma to be too indecisive and too passive to be interested in her sudden anger at everyone around her. Just when I thought the story was getting interesting, it would go flat.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    A 40-something year old woman realizing she doesn't know herself or her family as much as she thought she did. Through some, what I think of as, silly family strife, she comes to "find herself" with the help of two female family generations--her teenage niece and her carefree mother (hence the title, I gather.) I am not sure that Radish was able to convince me that there was any major problem facing the main character that someone coming from a large family wouldn't view as "normal." In any case A 40-something year old woman realizing she doesn't know herself or her family as much as she thought she did. Through some, what I think of as, silly family strife, she comes to "find herself" with the help of two female family generations--her teenage niece and her carefree mother (hence the title, I gather.) I am not sure that Radish was able to convince me that there was any major problem facing the main character that someone coming from a large family wouldn't view as "normal." In any case, I somewhat enjoyed the narration by her.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Another fabulous book by one of my favorite authors....somehow, Radish gets to the heart of women and family and friendship and all the joy/angnst that goes with them. She's able to put into words what I sometims wish I could! Funny, heartbreaking and oh-so-true! Another fabulous book by one of my favorite authors....somehow, Radish gets to the heart of women and family and friendship and all the joy/angnst that goes with them. She's able to put into words what I sometims wish I could! Funny, heartbreaking and oh-so-true!

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