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The Girls

Yglesias, Helen

176 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0345441125 / ISBN 13: 9780345441126
Published by Ballantine Books, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A., 2000
New Condition: New Soft cover
From Flash Books (Audubon, NJ, U.S.A.)

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1st Edition-Stated.1st Printing-Full # Line. New copy. Never read. Trade paperback format. BEAUTIFUL Perfect Copy. COLLECTOR'S COPY. Bookseller Inventory # 001167

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Girls

Publisher: Ballantine Books, Westminster, Maryland, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition: New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


The youngest of four sisters, a noted New York writer and critic, eighty-year-old Jenny has flown to Miami Beach to help her flamboyant sister Flora (the Sandra Bernhardt of the senior set) deal with their ailing older siblings. Eva, ninety-five, is still elegant and articulate: "They come if it's convenient," she ventures between wine toasts to her continuing years. Naomi is ever a beauty at ninety--and as vain as they come: "He's crazy about me, but I just brush him off." Despite their fragile bodies, they are women to be reckoned with--and Jenny and Flora have their hands full. As they strive to keep their sisters comfortable and cared for, an explosive history of sibling rivalry is reignited--one that illuminates each of their long lives, the tender joys and sorrows, and the bittersweet ache for life, especially in its twilight
years. . . .

From the Publisher:

Helen Yglesias has been uniformly praised by reviewers of her previous novels for her unerring sense of character, her elegance, delicacy, and humor, her consummate craftsmanship, and her incomparable ear for dialogue. All these qualities are fully on display in The Girls, the story of four sisters in their eighties and nineties.

As the novel begins, Jenny, the "baby" at eighty, has flown to Miami--that fantastic mix of generations and ethnicities--to care for her two oldest sisters, Eva and Naomi, who are frail and failing. The third sister, Flora, eighty-five, is an extravagant personality with not much of a head for the hard practical decisions facing Eva and Naomi, though she does a priceless standup routine on the Miami senior circuit.

Contemporary fiction, like the movies, shows us almost nothing about the lives of the old, and especially old women, who, if they appear at all, are either kindly grandmothers or crones. Yglesias's great achievement in The Girls is to give us four beautifully realized women just like everyone else, with all their pettiness and foibles and passions and nobility, intent on life even as life ebbs, as eager for the next joke or glass of wine or love affair or trip to the mall as any teenager. "Why can't love last forever?" Jenny asks herself as she thinks back on the past. "Why can't we live forever?"

The plot of The Girls is simple. What will happen to Eva and Naomi? Will they or won't they have to go to a nursing home? Not much suspense there, and one compelling point of the story is to dramatize the cramped and visionless options our nation has devised for the keeping and hiding of the old. But that isn't the main interest of the book, which lies in Jenny's unflinching gaze, at her sister's old age and her own. Without shrinking from the infirmities of age, Yglesias always finds the humor and humanity in her characters and their dilemmas.

Why should anyone want to read a book about four old ladies? Well, for that matter, why should anyone want to read a book about a big white whale? It's all in the telling, and The Girls is exquisitely told, by a master. Moreover, it is a book that will strike a resonant chord with the huge generation of baby boomers now watching their parents and older relatives face the challenge of aging with dignity.

We live, we grow old, we die. It's natural, it's as it should be, and yet Jenny's question rings out: Why can't we live forever? The Girls does not answer that question, it only poses it, as the finest fiction does, and leaves it echoing hauntingly, beautifully, in the mind.

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