The Wednesday Daughters
by Meg Waite Clayton
This a book about 3 women who set off for the Lakes region of England, the land that Beatrix Potter loved and farmed. These are the Wednesday Daughters, Joy, Julie, and Anna Page. They are not sisters by blood. Rather they are the daughters of women who became best friends and chose to call themselves the Wednesday Sisters, though they met on Sundays.
Joy’s mother has a little college in the Lakes region and Joy has never known why. The 2 of the daughters think she was having an affair. Joy vehemently upholds her mother’s integrity. Joy’s mother dies and this is why Joy and her friends head to England. She wants to go through her mother’s belongings and close her cottage. None of them are prepared for what they find, what they discover about each other, and how friends can really hate each other.
Joy is half Eastern Indian and she considers it a burden to have lived with all her life. Girls like her didn’t show up in ritzy Palo Alto when she was young. She feels that she really doesn’t fit in anywhere. Julie is mourning the loss of her twin. Both have are/have been married. Anna Page is a brilliant doctor with a lot of baggage of her own. In fact she sleeps around like there is no tomorrow. One of the interesting things is that whenever Anna is mentioned it is not simply Anna. It is always Anna Page. Joy and Julie call her that as well. I am guessing this is because she has an outspoken bigger than life personality.
The three of them are not ready to meet the stodgy know-it-all Englishman who is the owner of a large manor. They assume that this is the man Joy’s mother was having an affair with. To get to the island area they are rowed over by a lively Irishman who is rather flirtatious and has a tale of his own. Secrets, secrets, and more secrets.
As they plow through Mama’s belongings they find a set of journals in which Mama is writing as though she were having an ongoing friendship with Beatrix Potter who is 40 years dead. They also find Mama has a set of journals that she has written in code a la Beatrix Potter. I didn’t know until I read this book that Beatrix Potter had volumes of journals written in some coded language. Since their discovery, they have been translated.
Mystery after mystery unfolds about Mama, the 3 daughters, and the folks on the island. While I thought Joy and Julie were wimpy and obnoxious, Anna Page was absolutely maddening. I loved learning about the area and I loved the actual mysteries. When Daphne picked this up for me at a secondhand bookstore that is one of our favorite haunts, neither of us realized it was a sequel to her first book entitled The Wednesday Sisters. It can be read alone and there is enough background that the story can be followed.
I would give the book 3.5 stars. I just had a hard time liking the 3 women. I don’t plan to read the first book about their mothers.