I picked up the e-galley of Cara Sue Achterberg’s “Girls’ Weekend” because the blurb intrigued me.
Had I known I’d still be sitting in my favorite chair at 2am, racing to the finish, I probably would have put on my pajamas before I started. (Sometime before lunch…)
Yeppers, it was that good. It was compelling, touching, and a bit soul-searching. Oh, and it was fun, too. Have you ever been on holiday and thought “what if I just don’t go home? I wish I could stay here and hide from the rest of the world…”?
Well, Girls’ Weekend is the story of friends Charlotte, Dani and Meg. Frustrated and in need of a break, Charlotte suggests a weekend away to Dani, and they both convince Meg to come along. With that short bit of breathing space they all come to the decision that they aren’t going home…at least, not yet.
Dani has a seemingly “perfect” life, and yet she is unhappy. She loves her husband and her kids but she has lost her sense of purpose and laments giving up her dreams. Charlotte is a successful interior designer who is full of life. Her husband has always seemed more connected to their son than with her, and as her son is studying abroad for the summer, her husband seems even more distant and absent in their marriage. Meg is being eaten alive by grief after losing her son, and her husband seems ambivalent to her suffering and to her, in general.
The weekend they spend together sparks questions and soul-searching for both of them, and really touched on a lot of questions I find myself asking in the wee hours of the morning. What would have happened if we followed our dream? What makes us happy? Are we taking control of our life’s direction, or are we letting the current just drag us along?
The characters were faceted and believable. They made me laugh, think, and a bit angry at times (I’m looking at you, Charlotte.) This book just hit close to home in many ways, and I became a bit curious as to how it came to be written, so I reached out to Cara to talk about it.
What was the inspiration behind Girls’ Weekend?
I started writing Girls’ Weekend about 12 years ago, when I was feeling completely overwhelmed as a mom and questioning my journey as a woman. My kids were 2, 5, and 8 – serious parenting time. We’d just moved to Pennsylvania and I was struggling to find friends. I was working several part-time jobs and my husband was traveling for weeks at a time. I wanted to run away in the worst way. Writing was the only way to do it.
I think this book resonated with me is because I identified so closely with Dani’s situation in the book. Is there a character that you more closely identify with?
I get this question a lot. I’m not one of these characters – I’m ALL of them. There’s a part of me that struggles with these same issues. I worry beyond reason about my kids and sometimes my fears feel very real. Now as they are teens, more than ever, it’s impossible to protect them from everything. Writing Meg helped me to figure out whether or not a mother can survive the loss of a child. I’ve been married 20 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still question my marriage at times. Writing Charlotte was a safe way to wonder about infidelity and what is required to keep a marriage vibrant. And Dani. She is the me who approached forty and wondered – is this it? Have I followed my dreams or settled?
What’s your writing method? Do your characters “speak to you” and you just follow where they lead, or do you carefully plot the scenes so you know where the story is headed?
I am totally a pantser. It’s my favorite part of the whole process. I start with a character and set her/him in motion and then I watch. It’s magical – sometimes I feel like I’m taking dictation and I can’t type fast enough. Later, after it’s all finished, I’ll put the draft aside for a period of time – probably a month. That time is scary. I wonder whether I really have a book or not. I begin to doubt my story. Finally, I read it again. Then the work starts – going back through it and tying up the plot lines so they make sense, cutting scenes that don’t work, sometimes I need to add punctuation where the story was coming so fast I didn’t bother with commas or capitals. I’m always surprised – I’ll find entire chapters I don’t even remember writing. That’s when I’m certain there is some kind of magic involved.
Where do you write? (I’m so nosy)
I write on my laptop at my desk in front of a window where I can watch our horses in the pasture and my coon cat hunting in the side yard. I work on fiction in the afternoons and have to have a big cup of White Chocolate-Coconut-Latte green tea to drink as I work.
What are you working on next?
I’m doing final edits on my next novel. I’m dragging my feet a little because I love these characters so much and I’m afraid to hand them over to my editor for judgment. It’s a story about an overwhelmed mom and the people who need her – an aging mother, a drifting teenager, a child with Asberger’s, an unfaithful husband, an overbearing sister, and a father she’s never met.
What are you reading currently?
I just finished The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen– LOVED it, and tonight I’ll start my book club’s pick for May – Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood
Girls’ Weekend will be released on May 3, and lucky you, if you pre-order the e-book before May 3 on Amazon, Kobo or iBook, it is half price! Hurry!
Cara Sue Achterberg is also the author of the novel I’m Not Her, a work of women’s fiction, and Live Intentionally, a guidebook for a more intentional life based on one of her long running blogs. You can find links to her blogs and inspiration for teen writers on her website CaraWrites.com.
I was provided an e-galley of the book by the author via NetGalley but all thoughts and opinions (and typos) are solely my own. This post also contains affiliate links which, if used, may help me feed my coffee and book-buying habits but will cost you nothing.