Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
You can also find me on my blog.
Her Daughter's Dream is the sequel to Her Mother's Hope and concludes this five generational story. Beginning where the first book left off, the reader joins Hildemara as she is struck by tuberculosis and forced to ask Marta to help with her children. She fights her warring feelings for her mother, thankful for her help but jealous of Marta's closeness to her children. I had thought that Marta was a hard-hearted mother and expected Hildemara to be different. After all, she was a nurse and loved to serve others. However, she is more senselessly cruel to her daughter Carolyn than Marta had ever been to her.
I realize that we are supposed to pick up on the repeated mistakes weaving their way through the generations, but the lack of affection that Hildemara showed Carolyn just didn't make any sense. We are supposed to understand that she doesn't allow herself too close due to her disease, but that is no excuse for the complete lack of parental supervision that leads Carolyn to disaster.
One of the things that bothered me about this series is that the reader is never shown major events. Taking place over the course of the 20th century, this story (including both books) includes characters who fight in World War II & Vietnam, attend Woodstock, and participate in the cleanup after the World Trade Center attack. The reader gets only vague references to these events and the story never moves to the point of view of the characters involved, unless it is something they mention later. We miss out on world history in favor of once again seeing Hildie do dishes.
As with the first book, this second installment has each character making major life decisions without discussing them with anyone, family secrets, and people's inability to say 'I love you' as ongoing themes. Once again, I was astounded at how many pages were taken up with inane topics like high school dating in the 1980s. Let me get this straight, we get a letter about the results of Vietnam, but 100 pages on teenage courtship?
The ending was a predictable and unsatisfying happily ever after, though I can't say what ending would have made it worth the 1,000+ pages I've now read between these two books. Rivers gets the family dynamics perfectly, but a little more was needed than that to make this a good novel.