"Crossing the globe, from Australia to Manhattan to Dublin, McInerney's bewitching multigenerational saga lavishly and lovingly explores the resiliency and fragility of family bonds."-Booklist
"Vivid characterizations and sharply honed dialogue . . . McInerney brings humor and insight to issues of sibling rivalry, family secrecy, and romantic betrayal."--The Boston Globe, on The Alphabet Sisters
"A book to treasure . . . clever, amusing, and heart-warmingly touching."--Woman's Day (Australia), on Family Baggage
From internationally bestselling author Monica McInerney comes a captivating and charming new novel of family secrets, the loyalty of sisters, and the power of redemption.
As a child, Maggie Faraday grew up in a lively, unconventional household with her young mother, four very different aunts, and eccentric grandfather. With her mother often away, her aunts took turns looking after her-until, just weeks before Maggie's sixth birthday, a shocking event changed everything.
Twenty years later, Maggie is living alone in New York City when she receives a surprise visit from her grandfather Leo, who brings a revelation and a proposition: He's preparing a special gift for his daughters and needs Maggie's help. When the Faradays gather from all parts of the world to celebrate Christmas in July-a longstanding tradition-Maggie uncovers unexpected family history and learns that the women she thought she knew so intimately all have something to hide.
Written in McInerney's trademark warm, heartfelt prose, The Faraday Girls is a sweeping and affecting family saga
McInerney's sixth novel depicts the tensions that emerge between five sisters as they struggle to establish their own identities. The book opens in 1979, in Tasmania, Australia, just before the lives of Juliet, Miranda, Eliza, Sadie, Clementine and their father, Leo, are irrevocably altered by 16-year-old Clementine's announcement that she's pregnant. The sisters and widower Leo make a pact to raise the child until it begins elementary school. Despite their unyielding love for baby Maggie, the pact is an enduring challenge for the sisters (who range in age from 16 to 23), who each yearn for independence. Leo, however, sees Maggie's birth as the perfect excuse to keep all his daughters under the same roof. When Maggie is five, one sister's colossal error in judgment ruptures the tenuous familial bonds. The consequences play out as the novel fast-forwards 20 years, with the family fractured and Maggie living in New York City. McInerney (The Alphabet Sisters; Family Baggage; etc.) has written a sprawling tale, though the material is relatively light. Straightforward prose (leavened with spots of humor and upbeat, witty exchanges) keeps the narrative moving along. It should be a crowd-pleaser. (Sept.)
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August 27, 2007
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Excerpt from The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney
Chapter 1 Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 1979 The day the Faraday family started to fall apart began normally enough. Juliet, at twenty-three the oldest of the five Faraday sisters, was first into the kitchen, cooking breakfast for everyone as she liked to do. This morning it was scrambled eggs, served with small triangles of buttered toast. She added parsley, diced crispy bacon and a dash of cream to the eggs, with a sprinkle of paprika as a garnish. She also set the table with silver cutlery, white napkins, a small crystal vase with a late-blooming red rose from the bush by the front gate and a damp copy of the Mercury that had been thrown over the fence before dawn. The big earthenware teapot that had once belonged to their grandmother had center place on the table, resting on a Huon pine pot holder that sent out a warm timber smell as it heated up. Juliet stepped back from the table, pleased with the general effect. She’d been asked by her new boss at the downtown café where she worked to come up with ideas for menu items. She made a record of this morning’s arrangement in her notebook under the title “English-style Traditional Breakfast???” A smoked kipper or two would have been a nice touch, but they were hard to come by in Hobart. Too smelly, anyway, if her childhood memory served her well. Twenty-one-year-old Miranda was next up and into the kitchen. She was already fully made-up—black eyeliner, false lashes and very red lipstick—and dressed in her white pharmacy assistant’s uniform. She looked around the room. “Juliet, you really are wasted with us. You’d make some lucky family a lovely maid.” She absentmindedly pulled in her belt as she spoke. Two months earlier, a visiting perfume sales representative had flattered her by mentioning her slender waist. She’d been working vigorously to get it as thin as possible ever since. She worked in the local drugstore, publicly expressing an interest in studying pharmacy, privately thrilled with the access to discount and sample cosmetics. Juliet was also dressed for work, in a black skirt and white shirt, with a red dressing gown on top for warmth. She ignored Miranda’s remark. “English-style traditional breakfast, madam?” she asked. “I’d rather skin a cat,” Miranda answered, reaching for the newspaper. Eliza, sister number three and nineteen years old, came in next, dressed in running gear. She did a 4k run every morning before she went to university. “That’s not how you use that phrase, is it?” “It is now. I’d rather skin a cat within an inch of my hen’s teeth than put my eggs in Juliet’s basket.” Juliet looked pointedly at Eliza. “Would you like an English-style traditional breakfast, madam? Toast? Coffee or tea?” “I’d love everything, thanks. And tea, please. I’ve got a big day today.” Eliza was studying physical education at university. During the week she coached two junior women’s basketball teams. On weekends she ran in cross-country competitions. The only time any of her family saw her out of tracksuits was if she went to church on Sundays, and she rarely did that anymore. She took up her usual seat at the wooden table. “Why do you put yourself through this every morning, Juliet?” “Practice. Research purposes. A strongly developed sense of familial responsibility. It’s all good training for when I have my own café.” “Really?” Miranda said. “So if you were training to be an undertaker you’d embalm us each morning?” She was now eating a g