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A Mother and Two Daughters

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At the death of Leonard Strickland, beloved Southern gentleman, husband and father, his family is faced with the unknown. Nell always relied on the husband of her youth for security and friendship. Fiercely independent Cate and perfect Lydia have spent their lives vying for the love and approval their father generously gave. And as each woman begins to view her life, her p At the death of Leonard Strickland, beloved Southern gentleman, husband and father, his family is faced with the unknown. Nell always relied on the husband of her youth for security and friendship. Fiercely independent Cate and perfect Lydia have spent their lives vying for the love and approval their father generously gave. And as each woman begins to view her life, her past, and the possibilities of the future with new eyes, each belatedly discovers that life and death are impossible to plan, and that the past that has kept them apart can bring them closer to themselves and one another....


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At the death of Leonard Strickland, beloved Southern gentleman, husband and father, his family is faced with the unknown. Nell always relied on the husband of her youth for security and friendship. Fiercely independent Cate and perfect Lydia have spent their lives vying for the love and approval their father generously gave. And as each woman begins to view her life, her p At the death of Leonard Strickland, beloved Southern gentleman, husband and father, his family is faced with the unknown. Nell always relied on the husband of her youth for security and friendship. Fiercely independent Cate and perfect Lydia have spent their lives vying for the love and approval their father generously gave. And as each woman begins to view her life, her past, and the possibilities of the future with new eyes, each belatedly discovers that life and death are impossible to plan, and that the past that has kept them apart can bring them closer to themselves and one another....

30 review for A Mother and Two Daughters

  1. 4 out of 5

    Martena Warner

    This is my favorite book. I have read thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, and yet I can always return to this book and find it as beautifully written and insightful as when I first found it. Gail Godwin understands people frighteningly well and is completely honest in her writing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gillian

    I enjoyed re-reading this book. It is set in the American South in the late 1970s and it is representative of its time. The relationships between mother and daughters is true-to-life and believable. It translates well to today. When I first read it I was the age of Cate and Lydia, while now I am in my 60s like Nell.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenalyn

    I wanted to like it. The amorality was a deal breaker.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    what an annoying family.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    One of my all-time favorite books. Interesting, inspiring, and believable path of three women establishing their respective lives of independence.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    More like 1.5 stars. Godwin is a talented writer, I just hated the characters and most of the plot.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Stoll

    Not only did this story miss the editing department, it also is lacking in any substance.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I was drawn to the title as I was one of the same trio portrayed in the novel. As I read the perspective of all three women, I kept thinking, which sister am I, or am I both at different times-and of course, how the mother related to each and the impact of that particular relationship on each of her daughters-I was truly fascinated by how the characters navigated their relationships, and their own perceptions of themselves as their circumstances shifted-

  9. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I had to read this in college for my English literature class. My teacher loved her work. I did not. The author came to my university and read from her novel - can't remember if it was this book or not - but we were required to attend the reading. I had to read this in college for my English literature class. My teacher loved her work. I did not. The author came to my university and read from her novel - can't remember if it was this book or not - but we were required to attend the reading.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peg

    Read this one twice. The first time as a young woman and I had taken this story from my frame of mind at the time. I loved it then too. Then 20 years later I read it again. I took something more from it at that time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sandi

    Full page monologues?! I just couldn't even finish, especially with no point to the entire book. I kept feeling like these characters were mired in the 1940s and 50s, but apparently they weren't. Full page monologues?! I just couldn't even finish, especially with no point to the entire book. I kept feeling like these characters were mired in the 1940s and 50s, but apparently they weren't.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This story of how a woman & her two grown daughters dealt with the husband/father's sudden death spoke to me on several levels. This story of how a woman & her two grown daughters dealt with the husband/father's sudden death spoke to me on several levels.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I read this book many years ago, based on my sister's recommendation, and liked it a lot. I read this book many years ago, based on my sister's recommendation, and liked it a lot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Janis Walker

    Rated this a 2, but for a "women's book, I really liked it much more than that. If we weren't on a scale of literature I would have rated it higher. Just a nice "girl's read." Rated this a 2, but for a "women's book, I really liked it much more than that. If we weren't on a scale of literature I would have rated it higher. Just a nice "girl's read."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary E.

    Loved it

  16. 4 out of 5

    Becky Myrick

    Still relevant

  17. 5 out of 5

    H-Grace

    Read a long time ago so remember no details, just a feeling of liking the author.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I didn't enjoy this as much as The Good Husband. It began and ended well, but faded in the middle. Nell is the mother (a fine character) and Cate and Lydia are the daughters. Godwin is interested in how a tragic family event (in this case the death of a much loved father and husband) plays out as women search to make their lives what they want them to be. I felt that the daughters were vehicles for Godwin’s ideas rather than characters with their own internal logic (or even believable illogicali I didn't enjoy this as much as The Good Husband. It began and ended well, but faded in the middle. Nell is the mother (a fine character) and Cate and Lydia are the daughters. Godwin is interested in how a tragic family event (in this case the death of a much loved father and husband) plays out as women search to make their lives what they want them to be. I felt that the daughters were vehicles for Godwin’s ideas rather than characters with their own internal logic (or even believable illogicality). Very much an 80s work, with its exploration of women’s roles. If I had read the novel then, it would have said a lot more to me. But I think Godwin rides the line well between popular and serious fiction.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis Barlow

    This book will seem dated to a lot of people, and I guess it is. It was published in 1982 and was set in the 70's; the time before cell phones and computers. It hit a lot of the topics of the day, and some of the stereotypes, but someone like me who grew up in the South in the 60's and 70's this will seem very familiar. Very enjoyable story. This book will seem dated to a lot of people, and I guess it is. It was published in 1982 and was set in the 70's; the time before cell phones and computers. It hit a lot of the topics of the day, and some of the stereotypes, but someone like me who grew up in the South in the 60's and 70's this will seem very familiar. Very enjoyable story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vikki

    This story takes place in South Carolina. The mother's, Nell's,husband dies at the beginning of the book. There are two daughters, Lydia and Cate. They are very smart but there are conflicts among the two. It told of their everyday life. I thought this book was very good. This story takes place in South Carolina. The mother's, Nell's,husband dies at the beginning of the book. There are two daughters, Lydia and Cate. They are very smart but there are conflicts among the two. It told of their everyday life. I thought this book was very good.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne

    After reading Father Melancholy's Daughter and Evensong, this book was a real disappointment. The characters were self-absorbed, nobody had a moral compass, and the use of the epilogue to wrap things up seemed like cheating. I wouldn't have finished it if I had known. After reading Father Melancholy's Daughter and Evensong, this book was a real disappointment. The characters were self-absorbed, nobody had a moral compass, and the use of the epilogue to wrap things up seemed like cheating. I wouldn't have finished it if I had known.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    I enjoy Godwin's storytelling; this was a fascinating read more than an enjoyable one, if that makes sense. I enjoy Godwin's storytelling; this was a fascinating read more than an enjoyable one, if that makes sense.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Father dies, Mother always relied on him. Daughters: Cate is independent, Lydia is perfect. I remember liking this book. I'd like to read it again someday. Father dies, Mother always relied on him. Daughters: Cate is independent, Lydia is perfect. I remember liking this book. I'd like to read it again someday.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Re-reading but I loved it the first time which was more than 20 years ago....

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    I read the first two and a half chapters and kept falling asleep. Couldn't get into it... I read the first two and a half chapters and kept falling asleep. Couldn't get into it...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Just finished rereading... as compelling as the first time (over 20 years ago)with new perspectives that maturity allowed me to appreciate.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Joynton

    A suburban book by a suburban woman who envisions uniqueness.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Patty Garland

    Very Jodi Picault-ish. I fully enjoyed experiencing the family dynamic from each woman's perspective. They each demonstrated parts of ourselves warts and all. Very Jodi Picault-ish. I fully enjoyed experiencing the family dynamic from each woman's perspective. They each demonstrated parts of ourselves warts and all.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annemarie Tarpey gregorio

    Always love her prose.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Aiello

    Disappointing book for me. Expected a lot more and struggled at times to get to the end which was also disappointing. Cannot recommend this book to my friends which is unusual for me.

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