Goldengrove by Francine Prose

Goldengrove by Francine Prose
Goldengrove by Francine Prose

Title: Goldengrove
Author: Francine Prose
Published: 2008 by HarpersCollins Publishers
Number of pages: 275

Sisters Nico and Margaret are sharking a beautiful, sunny day out on the lake.  As they casually row around in the water, they talk of the silly, mundane things all sisters talk of.  Thirteen-year-old Nico idolizes her beautiful, vivacious older sister Margaret.  So when Margaret salutes her and dives into the water, never to be seen alive again, Nico is crushed.  Her world and the worlds of her parents and Aaron, Margaret’s boyfriend fall apart.

As the girls’ parents drift through life, barely hanging on to their own sanity, Nico is left to deal with the death of her sister pretty much on her own.  Her father is wrapped up in writing a book and her mother self-medicates herself into oblivion.  As they fall into blaming each other, Nico withdraws into a seductive, dangerous relationship with her sister’s boyfriend.  Over that one haunted summer, Nico learns how to deal with the loss of her sister, thr mystery of loss, and the discovery of herself.

Goldengrove is beautiful.  It is a beautifully written look at the lives of sisters, of families, or friends and their lives after the death of a loved one. It’s a beautiful look at the healing process of parents, of siblings, of friends.  This book broke my heart and mended it within 275 pages.  The prose is just so gorgeous!

The house was so silent I could hear the ticking of a clock I’d never noticed before, the groans of the refigerator.  I moved swiftly, like a burglar. Then the energy drained out of me, and I longed to go to my room and lie down.  But I couldn’t afford to be suffocated by the thick melancholy seeping from the dusty airless rooms.


I left the hammock swing me through the hot, still afternoon.  I concentrated on rocking so as not to think about Aaron.  I tried to empty my mind so completely that when a mosquito landed on my forehead, I didn’t have the instinct to swat it away.  Let it have a big gulp.  I deserved to be bitten.

and lastly

Two Cleopatras in our royal barge, my sister and I reclined and let our little rowboat drift out onto the lake. Margaret arched her shoulders, flung one arm over the side, and trailer her fingertips in the water.  It was one of those actressy gestures she’d copied from the classic black-and-white movies to which she was addicted.  She liked me to watch them with her, and we were allowed to stay up, because our mother said we would learn more from Some Like It Hot than from a year of school.  It was often hard to tell what our mother meant, exactly, except that we learned to flutter our lashes and say “What’s a girl to do ?” in breathy little-girl whispers.

As someone who lost a loved one at a very young age, Goldengrove really spoke true to me.  The emotions of that loss were spot on.  The feelings of guilt, of remorse, of despair, hope and regret all rang true.  Nico’s pain never felt overdone or precocious.  All in all, I highly recommend Goldengrove for the powerful, emotional, and beautiful novel that it is.  This was my first ever read by Francine Prose.  It definitely will not be my last.

You can listen to Francine Prose discuss Goldengrove with Bookgirl on Blog Talk Radio here:

Thank you to TLC tours and the publisher for allowing me to join this tour.

Francine Prose’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, September 22nd: Book Magic
Wednesday, September 23rd: Eclectic Book Lover
Thursday, September 24th: The Bluestocking Society
Thursday, October 1st: A Sea of Books
Tuesday, October 6th: Books on the Brain
Wednesday, October 7th: S. Krishna’s Books
Thursday, October 8th : Book Chatter and Other Stuff
Tuesday, October 13th: Caribousmom
Wednesday, October 14th: Literate Housewife
Thursday, October 15th: The 3 R’s: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness

21 thoughts on “Goldengrove by Francine Prose

    1. You must have been leaving this comment as I was adding the radio show! Great minds! 🙂

      I need to listen to it. Unfortunately I wasn't able to listen in as it was going on. I always miss the good shows thanks to work! 🙁

  1. Wow, it sounds like that book really struck a chord with you. The book sounds like something I would enjoy, so I'm adding it to my wish list.

  2. Goldengrove sounds good. It sounds like one of those books that would leave me crying as I read it.

    And totally off topic, but I've awarded you the Zombie Chicken Award, you can pick it up HERE


  3. I wonder if the author didn't lose a loved one at a very young age, since you say she got the emotions just right. I'm impressed you were able to read the book…it must have brought back so many feelings and memories.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful review, Heahter!

    1. I wonder to Trish. Sometimes books like this, even though it brings back those memories, are a comfort. For even though I lost someone I loved, I love to remember him. 🙂

  4. Hmm, I left a comment but I think I did something wrong and it disappeared.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that this book sounds really good and I love the cover. Will have to add this one to my list – thanks!

  5. I saw this over on Caribou's (Wendy's) blog and it really piqued my interest. I wonder if it will help me understand what Amy might be feeling, even 4 1/2 years later. Definitely going on my list. Excellent review, Heather. I'll come back and read the quoted passages once I've read the book.

    1. You know Les, I think it might. The journey to healing is such a long process, isn't it? It's never really over.

  6. I just finished reading Goldengrove last night and I was so happy with it, such strong writing. It was awesome to discover this author and I can't wait to check out more of her books.

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