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The Good Daughters

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  8,464 Ratings  ·  1,240 Reviews
The bestselling author of Labor Day returns with a spellbinding novel about friendship, family secrets, and the strange twists of fate that shape our lives.

They were born on the same day, in the same small New Hampshire hospital, into families that could hardly have been less alike.

Ruth Plank is an artist and a romantic with a rich, passionate, imaginative life. The last
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by William Morrow (first published August 9th 2010)
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This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Judy Mann Good point. THAT is the only flimsy part of the whole book. And it IS very flimsy - to think they wouldn't correct such a huge mistake right in the…moreGood point. THAT is the only flimsy part of the whole book. And it IS very flimsy - to think they wouldn't correct such a huge mistake right in the outset.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Nancy socoloff It was during the hurricane. He did have sex within the same 24 hour period with both women.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
SPOILER ALERT. If you haven't read the book and you don't want spoiler, don't read this.

The more I thought about, the more I knew I had to change this to a one-star rating. Don't even bother with this book. Here's what really ticks me off about the book -- after getting 3/4 of the way through it, I find out the entire story is based on a stupid, flimsy premise. I figured out pretty early on that the two "birthday sisters" (which is what the one mother called them since they were born on the same
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 It was a hard book to sit through once you figured the direction it was heading in. It was seriously icky and squirm worthy during some of the passages, this book takes you on an uncomfortable ride but Joyce Maynard still manages to write in a way that didn’t make it feel unsavoury. It’s a sad story with lots of layers of complexity so this wasn’t a happy tale by any means. I can’t say I loved it but I enjoy the writing even though the book took a turn to a place I was not expecting before h ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow!!! What an amazing story by an excellent storyteller!!! There is soooo much emotion in this book. So many daughters. I listened to it and it was so very interesting. Yet about a somewhat mundane subject. I want to inhale everything this author touches.
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this review in one big gulp over a long summer weekend this year. it's one of the best novels I have read in a good long while, and I recommend it to just about everyone except perhaps those among you who have hearts of stone, no sense of humor or are unduly boring and conservative in your values.

Maynard is a talented writer, and this novel is crafty and evocative. I appreciated the multiple meanings of the title, and that the earthy and everyday metaphors and similies Maynard uses, in pl
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Look at the title. Look at the cover. Look at the author.

Be honest with yourself. You knew what you were getting when you decided to read this book.

Emotional conflict. Drama. Woman's point of view. Right?

If that's what you sought, you will rate this book high.

If you were expecting Tom Clancy, you aren't going to make it past chapter one. (Hint: Next time look for a submarine or a big gun on the front cover.)

But is it literary? I can hear you on the back row ask.

Oh dear. I'd rather you read th
Jun 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Usually I get annoyed when there's a plot twist that I can see coming a mile away (example? SPOILER ALERT: Darth Vader is Luke's father. oh, and Leia's his sister). For some reason, even though I figured out what the plot twist was in this book, it didn't bother me.

There are three daughters here: Ruth Plank, fifth daughter of Edwin and Connie; Dana Dickinson, daughter of Val and George; and a new strawberry hybrid (I'm not kidding). Ruth and Dana are "birthday sisters", born nine months after a
Michele Harrod
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is a long time since I read a book and had to go and find space alone, so I could allow the tears to freely pour down my face and drip onto my chest, as I experienced moments of intense love and loss - with characters that I had come to care for immensely, despite their frailties and failings. Most extraordinary, was knowing within 3 chapters exactly where the book was going, and being utterly astounded that the characters took 50 odd years to figure it all out? Yet, I loved them anyway. And ...more
Sep 09, 2010 rated it liked it
The rhythms of Nature and the seasons courses with natural cadence through this bittersweet novel by Joyce Maynard. It is the tale of two very dissimilar families. One is a farming family, existing in the routine of life created by their environment and the requirements of their work. The other is smaller, less organized, less traditional group, who lead a more erratic life, living from hand-to-mouth.

She has deftly described the life of two daughters of these families. The emotional experiences
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked it!!! I like Joyce Maynard!
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book which is a little odd as at points it was a real downer and the topics it covered were less than upbeat. But the story of these two good daughters - growing up in the "wrong" family and yet in the end finding their own way. It starts slow as the two characters are children but it builds the foundation for all that is yet to come. And so it comes. So many of these stories could have made a whole book just to themselves but I never felt any story line was rushed (excep ...more
Katz Nancy from NJ
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book although the premise of one family visiting another no matter how far they were wore thin. Still the chartacters were well described and I did enjoy most of them. For the most part I find Joyce Maynard's books poignant and well written. I especially loved The Usual Rules.
Maynard's premise in this book is an interesting one. Unfortunately, her efforts to be coy about that premise result only in heavy-handed foreshadowing that really leaves very little to the reader's imagination. Given how much she gives away, it seems that what was really important was not what the big secret was, but how the characters would react once they found out. That being the case, I wonder why Maynard chose to frustrate the reader by giving away almost the whole thing through less-than- ...more
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'll say flat out that I enjoyed this book more than "Labor Day", a book I liked quite a bit. It was easier for me to relate to the two main characters--maybe because they were women, maybe because they were farmers at points in their lives, maybe because they were searching for a place to belong and someone to be cherished by who would love them for
themselves. I definitely became attached to them and enjoyed watching their lives unfold (though they both face difficult times that moved me greatl
Ann Douglas
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Warning: This novel is not suitable for reading in public, unless, of course, you don't mind having people stare at you, wondering why it is that a book has brought you to tears.

I was fortunate in that I lucked out and was able to read about three-quarters of this novel on a quiet Saturday when no one else was around. I was able to cry when I needed to -- which was often -- and I'm not the kind of person who cries easily while reading books. (Movies? That's an entirely different story.)

This is a
Sep 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
From my book review blog Rundpinne.

"Heart breaking, beautiful, and life affirming, The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard tells the story of Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson, known as the birthday sisters. On July 4, 1950 at the peak of strawberry season in Bellersville Hospital, Edwin and Connie Plank welcomed their 5th daughter into the world and two hours later, the Dickersons were greeting their second child and their first daughter. Maynard writes a beautiful, moving novel, and from the beginni
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it
An enjoyable story overall. Written from the POV of two women born on the same day in rural New Hampshire (birthday sisters) this is a saga of two families whose lives spin together and spin apart over a fifty year timespan.

We follow the lives of Ruth and Dana. Ruth, the fifth daughter and favourite of her fathers grows up feeling apart from her siblings and a cold and distant mother. She is infatuated with Dana's brother Ray. Her family live on a fruit and vegetable farm passed down through ge
Alice Meloy
Aug 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
In alternating chapters, Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson tell their own stories about growing up in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Though they had little interest in each other, their families were connected in ways that it took them much longer to figure out than it takes the reader of this lackluster novel. The premise makes a worthwhile plot, up to a point, but because you know where it's going, you may find yourself skimming through the last half of the book, looking for the point when the family secre ...more
Michelle Catherine
Nov 26, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roxenne Smith
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Even though I agree with the one reviewer who thinks the plot is like a bad soap opera, I have to admit that sometimes I need that kind of story. The writing is magnificent, the plot is engaging, and the characters are people I really like. And not beside the point, I've found that real life is often very much like a bad soap opera. So what's the problem?

After years of dismissing Joyce Maynard as a fraud for having made me believe (through her "Domestic Affairs" column) that she had a blissful f
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Good Daughters chronicles the lives of the birthday sisters (Ruth and Dana) from infancy through adulthood. The book is written through the voices of these girls in alternating chapters. At the core is a family secret which is apparent to the reader very early in the book yet the story unfolds without losing the attention and curiosity of the reader.
Bess Conner
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
+spoiler alert+
I'm not even sure how to rate this book or review it.

I've been so desperate to read something, anything that I read it through in less than 2 nights. I had just finished Under the Influence, which I liked a lot, and expected more from this author.

The plot was obvious. The reaction of the characters to the obvious baby switching was pretty unreal. I guess you're supposed to believe because Connie had 4 other daughters, that she'd accept one not her biological, and Val so unorthod
Gwendolyn Broadmore
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Good Daughter, by Joyce Maynard: a powerful example of the varied and complicated ways love is (sometimes) expressed. Also, the deep emotions we hide from ourselves, and those closest to us. It may take a few chapters to entice you to linger, but I feel it's worth it.
Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-favorite-read
The Good Daughters, by Joyce Maynard is a simple story on the surface. It is the story of two families, the Planks and the Dickersons. On July 4, 1950, baby girls were born to each family in a rural New Hampshire hospital. For the Planks, baby Ruth was a fifth daughter. For the Dickersons. baby Dana was an only daughter, with a little boy, Ray at home. The two families could not have been more different. The Planks, Edwin and Connie, were a hard working farming family with roots on the land and ...more
Hurricane season in New Hampshire brings about an unexpected aftermath in the year 1949. Nine months later, on July 4, 1950, two girls are born to two very different families living in this little community. The families feel a connection because of this event, although the two are very different and seemingly have nothing in common—except, of course, for the two "birthday sisters." The girls are Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson.

The Planks are a farming family. Edwin and Connie already have four da
Jul 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Based on the reviews I've seen, on this site and others, I am clearly in the minority in my opinion of this book. I'm not sure what others have seen that I'm missing, but I really just didn't like it. The story is told in alternating chapters from the point of view Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson, as they each tell their respective life story. Ruth and Dana are 'birthday sisters', having been born on the same day in the same hospital in rural New Hampshire. I found Dana to be a little more likable ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Two families, the Planks and the Dickersons, are mysteriously entwined in this exquisite novel that centers on decades of life at a New Hampshire farm. Youngest daughters Ruth Plank and Dana Dickerson, born on the same day in the same hospital, take turns narrating the struggles they face as children. Ruth feels a coldness from her mother; Dana is unsettled by her kooky parents constantly uprooting her and her brother Ray. Regardless, the Planks pay a yearly visit to the Dickersons no matter wh ...more
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a major twist in The Good Daughters that I had figured out very early in the novel. Although I knew the destination, I still greatly enjoyed the journey getting there. I thought the prose was beautiful and almost lyrical at times. I most of all relished seeing the journey of the two girls throughout their life from birth until approximately age sixty. I loved the story time frame with Ruth and Dana being born in 1950. Their experiences growing up were buffeted at times by historical eve ...more
Jo Anne B
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was such a predictable story from the get go. It was painful how obvious it was. I actually kept thinking that I had already read this because of its predictability. Two girls born on the same day referred to as Birthday Sisters forced to be a part of each other's lives based on this fact. But of course there was more to it. Can you guess?

I enjoyed  reading about the farming techniques in this book. These were actually the best parts or the book. Meanwhile, this seemed like a coming of age
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Ah, how I love Joyce Maynard. This was such a great story - about two babies born on the same day in a small town in New Hampshire - so called "birthday sisters' - and their lives from birth through about age 60. the chapters alternate the stories of the two girls. Usually in this type of book, the two girls would at least at some point in their young lives be close friends - but Maynard often puts a twist on her stories, and these girls never really cotton to each other. They are very different ...more
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How did this get published? 3 66 Apr 08, 2012 03:47PM  
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Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR ...more
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“There is something about the act of studying an unclothed body, as an artist does, that allows a person to appreciate it as pure form, regardless of the kinds of traits traditionally regarded as imperfections. In a figure drawing class, an obese woman's folds of flesh take on a kind of beauty. You can look at a man's shrunken chest or legs or buttocks with tenderness. Age is not ugly, just poignant.” 5 likes
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