So I joined another book group. Optimistic of me to think I might have time to read two novels a month, but what the heck. This group is a bunch of moms who like to read, and like even more to hang out at the beach (knocking back a few) discussing what they've read, and watching the sun set as the tide rolls in. Let's just say it's an easy fit for yours truly. (For any of my new friends who happen across this blog, this will explain why I took a picture of my shoes...)
We read Frangipani, by Celestine Vaite. It's the story of Materena, a strong, proud and wise Tahitian woman, and her smart, lively and challenging daughter Leilani. The novel explores themes of personal growth, conflict and love in mother-daughter relationships, family, change across generations both in Tahitian culture and for women in general. Its subject plops it squarely in the chick lit market, which I'm loathe to even acknowledge as such. Still, I found Materena an engaging character and Frangipani a charming if undemanding story. It made a lovely excuse to spend an evening on the beach talking (ultimately of other things). A teacher of English in the group recoiled in mock horror when I said it reminded me thematically of The Red Tent, so much a women's book group favorite that it essentially defines the genre. Red Tent is certainly a more literary, more ambitious work; Frangipani is maybe more suited for mature young adults. What do I know, I majored in rocks.
At any rate, as a mother of girls, it is always heartening to read strong mother-daughter relationship stories. I'll find it again in ten years and ask the Bean and Peanut what they think. Here's hoping they're still speaking to me.