I've been eagerly anticipating the release of Meg Waite Clayton’s The Race for Paris, a novel in the same WWII genre of historical fiction as my novel Even in Darkness. While waiting, and in celebration of Meg's many contributions as a literary citizen, particularly to other writers, I recently indulged in the pleasure of re-reading The Wednesday Sisters, Meg's earlier novel about five women who formed a writer's group and then became best friends. I wondered how revisiting The Wednesday Sisters would feel, now that I’ve launched my own book, and joined the sisterhood of other She Writers. When this book was published in 2008, I was not yet a declared writer, though I was already writing a book. I was also part of two artist groups. The first consisted of five creative women and close friends, fiber artists all, who were poets, playwrights, photographers, and screenwriters. The second was a dedicated writer's group, who championed in me over time, the courage to embrace an identity as an author. They also helped make the manuscript of my novel better by far. Let me just say, The Wednesday Sisters is as great a read the second time as the first, and it reminded me how much I treasure the women writers and artists I’ve come to know and work with in the SheWrites community. The women in The Wednesday Sisters began gathering in the late 1960s. They were or became young mothers, and their husbands’ professions in Palo Alto, California fundamentally governed their lives, even as the friends began to be aware of the nascent women's movement. It’s easy to forget what courage it took to assert a life path apart from marriage and family in those days, but it's hard to forget the excitement and agony of the decision to commit to being a writer. My groups of women writers and artists formed when we'd all had children and successful careers; we were older and accomplished in our fields. Our entry into the world of more deeply exploring who we were artistically happened 25 years later in our lives than the women in Wednesday Sisters, but we had lived through those 1960s and 70s years as young marrieds and professionals, facing many of those same barriers and the boundary-crossing times as the characters in Clayton's book. The Wednesday Sisters gets the female relationships so right: from that time, and timelessly. The attachments are complicated, with shared interests, compassion, support, competitiveness, jealousy, uncertainty, and the recognition of how valuable it is to stay close to the women who care. Clayton got the issues right too; then and now... not surprisingly, the issues don’t change that much; women’s issues of infertility, childbearing, dedication to family, the slavery of family, the trade-offs for a profession, illness, infidelity. The challenges and tensio
I appreciated a welcome visit to a poignant past and the treasure of finding connections with like-minded women writers in this lovely book. It's written from the heart and written well. Brava Meg Waite Clayton and thanks for all you do. Bring on The Race for Paris!
Addendum: The Race for Paris was as interesting and compelling as expected! Fast paced and well researched, Race for Paris reveals the bravery, the boldness and the barriers in lives of WWII women journalists in the run-up to the liberation of Paris. Add a good dose of romance and Clayton's classic skill at drawing women's relationships, and the result is a great read.