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By Any Name

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Rida is an orphan out of California who dances for the troops in the USO. Spencer is a naval officer with roots deep in New England's upper crust. They meet during World War II at an Officer's Club dance, and Spencer might have been dissuaded if he saw just one engagement ring on her finger, but instead, he sees four.

The courtship is easy, Rida wins him and wears his ring
Paperback, 286 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Diversion Publishing (first published 2017)
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The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)
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As a fan of Cynthia Voigt’s many novels for teens, such as Dicey’s Song, I was thrilled to discover this new adult contemporary. By Any Name is an historical fiction that is reminiscent of Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel. The story of Rida’s life is told through the eyes of her daughter Beth and really captures the era beautifully. Also, the references to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott that are sprinkled throughout the story add to its theme in a unique way.
Viviane Crystal
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rida is an orphan who meets Spencer while she is serving in the USO during WWII and he is serving as a naval officer. They meet at an Officer’s Club Dance. Rida loves to dance and have a good time. She is an orphan from California and has no idea of her origins but doesn’t really care. Actually she considers her unknown status as a mandate to speak her mind at all times and to defy what other see as necessary conventions of behavior. Spencer has one thing on his mind, to divert his constant worr ...more
Louisa Donovan
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this as much as I love Cynthia Voigt’s YA fiction, but Rida isn’t as sympathetic a protagonist as Dicey, or Izzy, or Mina, or as curmudgeonly as Gran. She is definitely a law unto herself, particularly when dealing with marrying into a Boston Brahmin family. She loves Spence truly, madly, deeply, and sees herself as his helpmeet and protector to deal with an outside world that doesn’t protect his scholarly mind from mundane problems like income. Spencer recognizes and develops R ...more
Brenda Ratliff
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The first 100 pages of this book just FLEW by! I read Cynthia Voight's books and loved them when I was in middle school (Homecoming and Dicey's Song! So great!). I was really excited to see her name on a new book and I'm glad to have gotten an advance copy.

By Any Name is the story of a woman's life told in the recollections and gatherings of her four daughters. The concept appealed to me and I already like the author so I was excited to read it! I stayed up WAY to late reading the first section
Lori Downs
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Entertaining story of Rida, a USO dancer, who is unconventional, dresses boldly, believes lines are meant to be crossed, and is off-beat. Rida marries a Naval Officer from an upper crust family and the story spans the decades and details Rida's relationships with her in-laws, high society, and her 4 daughters, who struggle to understand their mother.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Years ago I read all of Cynthia Voigt's books about the Tillermans. I also loved The Callender Papers. So when I saw this, I had to give it a try. On the back cover it says, "Cynthia Voigt has penned a novel for readers who grew up loving her...novels for children and young adults." That would be me. I really wan't expecting too much, but it quickly drew me in. The narrator, Beth, is telling the story of her mother, Rida's, life. There's plenty of great social commentary thrown in, too. This was ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
As a fan of Voigt's young adult novels, I was happy to learn of this one for adults. It ended up being a little too quirky for me to love completely. It centers on Rida, a strong-willed woman who marries into a rich family and has 4 daughters (named after the daughters in Little Women. Her daughter Beth narrates most of the story. It just didn't feel like there was much of a plot, and Rida's character was grating after awhile.
Sophia Barsuhn
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have loved Cynthia Voigt since I was thirteen years old and read her novel Homecoming in school. She's one of my all-time favorite authors, and this book did not disappoint. I think this is the funniest novel of hers I've read so far; there were parts that made me laugh out loud. If I could have even a quarter of Rida's self-confidence and self-assuredness, I think my life would be much easier.
I added this to my TBR pile because Cynthia Voigt was one of my favourite authors from when I was a young girl. Unfortunately, despite a promising premise and character I found this one to be dull and boring. It's never a good sign when you keep checking to see how many pages you have left and I did that a heck of a lot while reading this book.
Lisa Bricker
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
When I think of Cynthia Voigt, I think YA. I underestimated her substantially...and I think the world of what I've read of hers before. I'm glad I didn't read this book before I was old enough to appreciate it. I can see Rida walking through her world exactly as she thought she should; and what that would have done to her daughters. I can see, without truly understanding I admit, how her marriage worked. And I can see my three sisters and I sitting down and arguing over our parents just like Meg ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: witty-dialogue
Cynthia Voigt writes compelling young adult novels, especially her series that started with HOMECOMING. This one is published for adults and is a fascinating character study of "Mumma" told by one of her four daughters. An orphan, Mumma had danced for troops during World War II, attracting men but ultimately marrying a Boston academic from a wealthy, oh-so-proper family that she had little in common with. If Jane Austen had been born two hundred years later, she might have written this; hilariou ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A perfectly readable vacation novel about a one of a kind woman and her four daughters (Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth). Quirky Rida is very sure of herself, and brooks no opposition to her opinions - which maddeningly are often right on the money. Told by youngest daughter Beth, this book looks back on the girls' childhood in the style of vignettes from Rida's life (as told to them by her), and from the girls' recollections. Made a fun break from kids' books. Would make a good beach read. Best for adul ...more
I somehow was confused by the story in the beginning, and then realized it is the story of a woman's life told in the recollections of her four daughters. The mother seemed cruel and odd at first, but turns out her daughters understood her eccentricities and loved her. I enjoyed the book, but it didn't really stick with me, so I only gave it 3 stars.
Mary Jo
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Four daughters trying to make sense of their mother's past and personality is an interesting plot but I found it difficult to warm up to the characters. Nevertheless, I liked the book especially the first section.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read many of Cynthia Voigt's young adult books when I was a kid and loved them. I was thrilled to see she had a new adult book out. I haven't read her in years and she did not disappoint! I loved this book!
Mary Duda
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Voigt's books are always really good, but seem to be heavy a lot of the time, so I kept putting off reading this one. But it was so charming! I really enjoyed this, with the daughters' view of their Mumma and how Mumma went through her life.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has unusual plot that kept your attention; outspoken, misfit wife in a high society family.
Donna Quinlan
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly enjoyable read!
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
The first half was fun and interesting, but the second half lost my interest.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
I listened to the audiobook and I wasn't interested enough to grind my way through it. It started off ok but I just found all the characters unlikable.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very long. Mostly dull.
Wendy Heffer
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A bit of a slow start, but redeemed itself by the end.
Li Sian
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Plucky orphans are my favourite. Rida could so easily have been a Narcissistic Mum, but she wasn't. I enjoyed this!
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love Voight’s Dicey books, so I was disappointed when I didn’t enjoy her Max books for younger children. This is an adult book, a fine portrait of an unusual woman and her family.
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christine Lussier
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I received a digital copy of By Any Name from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved Cynthia Voigt as a child & felt compelled to read her new novel.

I found the story pulled me in, & at times, I was so frustrated with her in-laws & friends that I wanted to stop reading--definitely the sign of a good author if you can make me dislike a character or two! Rida definitely was a unique character & her family & daughters benefited from that.

I did find parts of the story choppy to read. It
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was pulled into the story from the beginning. I was so invested that I started to want to come face to face with Rida's in laws and let them know how bad they were. One really interesting aspect of this novel is that it is told through the perspective of Rida’s daughter, Beth. I found that made the story more believable. I just really enjoyed this story. I was given this arc for an honest review by Netgalley
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Diversion Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of By Any Name. This is my honest opinion of the book.

Rida was a force of nature from the day that Spencer met her, during the war in 1943. Married quickly, without fanfare, the couple spent more time apart than together in their first years. The divide between their upbringings was apparent, as Spencer was born of privilege, while Rida was left at an orphanage. Although his family did not warm to Rida, she was determined not to l
Emily Purcell
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it
In By Any Name four sisters, named after the heroines of Little Women, look back on the life of their mother. Their parents love story begins during World War Two, which gives the time frame for this epic. Their father's family belongs to the very old, very close knit world of upper-crust Boston -- but Rida their mother most certainly does not. She spends the next 60+ years fitting in and standing out.
Jacqueline K. Albrecht
Entertaining read -- the characters are great.
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Cynthia Voigt is an American author of books for young adults dealing with various topics such as adventure, mystery, racism and child abuse.

Angus and Sadie: the Sequoyah Book Award (given by readers in Oklahoma), 2008
The Katahdin Award, for lifetime achievement, 2003
The Anne V. Zarrow Award, for lifetime achievement, 2003
The Margaret Edwards Award, for a body of work, 1995
Jackaroo: Ratte

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“Your grandmother thought--no, she believed, it was like a faith for her. She believed it the way some people believe in God or science. She believed that it was the rules that made her life so easy. She thought life was about the rules people make for it, as if life was some kind of a board game and if you had a little luck, and you kept to the rules, you'd end up winning. Or maybe she thought it was like a game of solitaire and once the cards had been shuffled and laid out, if you had a good draw you were safe, as if it was arranged for you to win. Or to lose, although Grandmother considered herself someone who had won, since all she had to do once she was born was follow the rules. But really, life's like a game of bridge: You're dealt a hand and it can be a winning hand or a losing one, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll win or lose because there are other people at the table, your partner for one, and the other ream for another, that's three people...playing too, and people make mistakes, multiply that times three too, or you can just be smarter than they are. And luckier too, because anybody who sits down to play bridge or life without figuring out how much luck is involved is making a Big Mistake. I don't want you girls doing that.” 1 likes
“....I persist in examining Mumma from all of the angles available to me I will learn. Not learn how to be a good mother to Sarah, who abandoned me on the sidewalk in front of the school building on the first day of kindergarten ("I don't need a mother any more"), but rather, to understand her, to know when to stand at her shoulder, when to sit in the stands and cheer her on, when to place myself squarely behind her, and when to throw myself in front of her onrushing train. Or even, maybe, when to come after her balloon with a hairpin. How to help her see that see is loved and to know, about herself, that her love is welcomed.” 0 likes
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