Just as Good the Second Time Around

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen

I am a contrary reader sometimes.

I had listened to this book over a year ago and loved it. So I picked it for the book discussion. And, of course, having “assigned” it to myself, I resented having to read it again. But… I am kinder to myself than I give myself credit for: by about the third chapter, I was sucked in and liking the book more than I even remembered. (I love it when that happens.)

This is a story of two sisters: one, the narrator, Bridget, is a social worker; and the other, Meghan, is the host of the nation’s most popular morning TV talk show. They seem to have a lovely sisterly relationship going on, until Meghan says two appalling bad words about a guest—on live TV, thinking her mike was off when it was on, on, ON! And we’re off to the races… It also turns out that Meghan’s husband Evan has left her, and so pretty much she’s losing much of her life as she knows it.

So Meghan escapes to Jamaica on an extended vacation that is really a period of exile (“going under the porch,” as described by her sister, thinking of an injured pet that so vanished to lick its wounds).

Meanwhile, (SPOILER ALERT!) 43-year-old Bridget discovers she’s pregnant, and her life starts to expand, even as her sister’s life is shrinking. Interesting stuff.

This novel is also a valentine to New York, which is a city I think I would love, though I’ve never even visited. Someday…

I read somewhere recently that Anna Quindlen at her best (which, I would argue, is the case in Rise and Shine) rivals Sue Miller. I’ll buy that. They both capture the domestic with a certain sophistication.