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Hilda and Pearl: A Novel
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Hilda and Pearl: A Novel

3.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  133 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
To Frances, an only child living in McCarthy-era Brooklyn, her mother, Hilda, and her aunt Pearl seem as if they have always been friends. Frances does not question the love between the two women until her father's job as a teacher is threatened by anti-Communism, just as Frances begins to learn about her family's past. Why does Hilda refer to her "first pregnancy," as if ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 2nd 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published September 1st 1994)
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Kristine Goldberg
Oct 03, 2010 Kristine Goldberg rated it it was ok
This book was a little slow and boring to me. I think the author did a good job showing the complexities of a loving friendship between sisters-in-law. I enjoyed some parts of the story. The story took place before, during, and after World War II. The characters worried about the stressful times, but their lives were not as impacted as most people's lives during that time. The characters did have many personal problems, but these were mostly caused by their own actions. I was a little disappoint ...more
Emily Green
May 22, 2016 Emily Green rated it it was amazing
When I was at the University of Mississippi, I had the wonderful experience of hearing Alice Mattison read. I had read a few of stories before, as Sharon Dilworth included them in her fiction workshops at Carnegie Mellon University, but hearing Mattison read them brought out the subtle humor and irony of the stories even more. Hilda and Pearl is typical of Mattison’s work in that it jumps through time, includes the points of view of several characters, and reveals the nuances of relationships th ...more
Havebooks Willread
Mar 07, 2014 Havebooks Willread rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Hilda and Pearl examined a unique friendship between sisters-in-law. The setting. . .well, it's a little confusing as the point of view switches among the women and a young girl, but the meat of the novel is set in the 1930s. The women's relationship grows as they experience betrayal and loss. I appreciated this book because I can relate to the complexities inherent in friendships between women.

I'm not quite sure what I think of this book overall. I kept reading because I just had to know what h
Jul 25, 2011 Nicole rated it it was ok
Strange relationship between sisters-in-law in the late 30's, early 40's. Many interesting relationship & emotional issues kept me reading but left me wanting more...even wondering why or how these people could be so aloof & okay read, but nothing that I'd recommend to a friend.
Dec 30, 2014 Joy rated it liked it
Okay...not great, not awful. I also kept reading, hoping for something "big" to happen but nothing did. I'm sorry to say I personally could not have forgiven anyone who had done to me what happened in this book but perhaps that is the whole point of the story.
Aug 25, 2015 kim rated it liked it
I picked this book up at the book fair because I was intrigued by the cover. Within the first few pages, I knew I was going to like the book. I found it difficult to put down. Sometimes the writing was a bit stilted, but the book was still entertaining.

The book is about 2 women who married brothers in the years before WWII, and the friendship they formed. The story begins during the McCarthy era in the 50's, with one of the brothers having to worry about his job because of his political activi
Aug 21, 2015 Lynn rated it it was ok
This book was really just OK. I can't even say that I liked it that much. It's mostly about the relationship between two sisters-in- law who have a very complicated relationship. They are able to overcome a lot of pain that they inflict on each other, but the narration of their tale is slow and plodding. There are many loose ends that are never resolved. My reaction at the end of the book was that it was pointless and somewhat uninspired. Not something that I would recommend.
Margaret Kenney
Aug 28, 2014 Margaret Kenney rated it liked it
Beginning with a snapshot of sisters-in-law Hilda and Pearl on a vacation in New York state, the author moves back to the time they met and examines how their choices, husbands and world events shaped their relationship. While reading I often wished for more insight into how the characters felt. Instead, as a reader, I felt that the relationship between the two women remained private and that I was an outsider. The story unfolds slowly with events passing like time itself. Perhaps this is the ef ...more
Nov 28, 2009 Nomi rated it did not like it
I had high hopes for this book at its beginning. The premise of a child growing up in the '50s learning about her parents' lives in the '30s hooked me right away. Unfortunately, I found the writing uneven, a story told in the 3 different female character voices, moving back and forth in time, leaving some loose ends while exhausting two themes to distraction. By the time it loops back on itself at its end, I was worn out with the tedium of the presentation and lack of growth in the characters. I ...more
Dec 02, 2009 Erin rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Women
I love this book! Originally when I picked up this book I did not understand the meaning behind all of the hurt and betrayl that these women caused each other, but near the end it all came crashing in. The lesson of loving people even when they are wrong and the bond that these women had was so heartwarming.
The strength of the relationship that Hilda and Pearl have is wonderful. Through thick and thin the two stick by each others sides and grow as one. I hope to have this sort of relationship wi
Debara Zeller
Feb 28, 2016 Debara Zeller rated it it was ok
Unless this is about a repressed lesbian love, I find the relationship between the two female characters impossible to fathom. Hilda has more than one reason to despise Pearl, and yet the two become best friends. Go figure.
Apr 14, 2016 Wynne rated it liked it
Not sure how I think about this one. I was bogged down for awhile, but it may have more to do with returning from a trip.
Apr 11, 2012 Mandy rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! At first it seemed slow starting off but once I got to the middle it pulled me in. I love when you can relate so well to a character or multiple characters! It is so wonderful when you know an author must have felt that emmotion before because they are able to discribe or write about it that reminds you of when you felt that way. This book is set in a simpler time but it reminds you that just because their times seemed simpler to us doesn't mean they truely were. A MUST REA ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Tracey rated it really liked it
This is the story of two sisters in law in the 30's/40's era as told by the two sisters (Hilda and Pearl) and the daughter of one (Frances). As I got deeper into this book, I wasn't sure how to take the narrators or storyline as it just around quite a bit on the timeline, but as I came to the end of the book, I thought that time jumping was well constructed and shined a light on how a relationship evolves.

There are some plot surprises that I do not want to expose, but it is enough to say that th
Marcia Miller
Dec 02, 2015 Marcia Miller rated it it was ok
Disappointed in this read, which I found too simplistic, pedestrian, and not especially original. I figured out the Big Secret so early on that it wasn't worth slogging through to see how the big reveal would play out.
Sue (booknbeachbag)
Mar 22, 2014 Sue (booknbeachbag) rated it liked it
I kept expecting something big to happen and nothing really did. Also way too many loose ends upon completion.
Apr 16, 2008 george rated it it was ok
Eh. This could not maintain my interest. It took me over a week to read, which is very unusual for me. The central story is of an interesting friendship, but none of the characters are likeable and Mattison attempts to show the viewpoint of each. That attemt fails as we don't get to really understand any of the characters
Feb 21, 2012 Bea rated it liked it
This book switched focus between Frances, Pearl, and Hilda. I found it most effective when Hilda was the narrator. I found Frances hard to care about about/feel her motivations and I found Pearl not realistic - too hollow. I never got too into the book.
Paula Byra
Mar 16, 2013 Paula Byra rated it really liked it
Set in NY in the 1930's. the struggles of two young couples and their political opinions and beliefs. I really enjoyed this easy/thought provoking read.
Angie Fisher
Jun 20, 2010 Angie Fisher rated it really liked it
Awesome insight into sister-in-laws during the depression/beginnings of WWII. Lots of conflicts/issues/relationship drama...loved it!
Jul 19, 2009 Leslee rated it liked it
Alice Mattison's writing style is very spare--one could say flat--and yet she had emotionally hooked me by the end.
Mary Servis
Apr 29, 2013 Mary Servis rated it really liked it
Interesting and different. A different perspective of family, friends, and betrayal.
Nov 18, 2013 Rosie rated it really liked it
nice easy read
my first by this author
planning to read more of her
May 30, 2007 Cynthia rated it really liked it
I love Alice Mattison.
Tina is currently reading it
May 25, 2016
Jann E
Jann E marked it as to-read
Mar 06, 2016
Jenna Trione
Jenna Trione marked it as to-read
Feb 22, 2016
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Alice Mattison's new novel, WHEN WE ARGUED ALL NIGHT, will be published by Harper Perennial as a paperback original on June 12, 2012. She's the author of 5 other novels, most recently NOTHING IS QUITE FORGOTTEN IN BROOKLYN, 4 collections of stories, and a book of poems. Many of her stories have appeared in The New Yorker and other magazines. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York and has lived for a lo ...more
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