Thursday, September 15, 2011

Before the Blog: Hilda and Pearl

Hilda and Pearl: A Novel
by Alice Mattison
Harper Perennial Paperback
ISBN 9780060936938
304 pages
Release Date: October 1, 2001
Available for purchase 

Why did you choose this book?  The cover was what attracted me to this one when I saw it at book fair. The fact that the book was in ‘like new’ condition made it irresistable. 

When did you read this book? September 2010

Who should read this book? fans of historical fiction, particularly the 1950’s, readers who enjoy stories of friendship

Here is a synopsis of ‘Hilda and Pearl' from Goodreads, where it rates 3.19 stars.

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 Frances wasn't her only child? Whose baby shoes are hidden in Hilda's dresser drawer? Why is there tension when Pearl and her husband come to visit?
The story of a young girl in the fifties and her elders' coming-of-age in the unquiet thirties, this book resonates deeply, revealing in beautiful, clear language the complexities of friendship and loss.

My Review

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 activities. Hilda has a daughter, Frances, who grows up believing she is an only child. Through bits and pieces of conversation, she learns there was a baby who died. The story back-tracks into the 30's as the women remember their past.

I believe the author's point is to show that friendship is a choice and you can make the choice to have a friendship that survives betrayal, tragedy, and disappointment. There were 2 separate events that would have torn most friends apart, yet these women chose to get past them and remain friends.

I didn't rate the book higher, because there were too many loose ends. I feel like I need to know when happened next. I don't want to give too much away so I won't tell you all the questions I had, but I did feel like there was a lot more story to be told. But even with these loose ends, this is a good story and worth your time.

My Rating:  ★★★ 3 Stars

Before the Blog is a meme hosted by YA Litwit. The idea here is that we have all been reading much longer than we have been blogging and have many books in our reading past that are worthy of blogging about. This is a way to 'rediscover' these gems by answering a few basic questions. For details check out Karis' YA Litwit blog.

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