It is always interesting when one of a book’s main characters has already passed away. The challenge, however, is not to make the deceased more interesting than the living. Unfortunately, this was not fully achieved in Christine Gael’s novel, Maeve’s Girls.
Maeve Blanchard is dead. She leaves a legacy of bootlegging, multiple marriages, riverboat gambling and, possibly, murder. For better or worse, she’s a tough act to follow. And that is exactly the task silently set forth for her daughters as they meet in La Pierre, Louisiana to settle Maeve’s estate and face their own personal demons.
There is Lena, the oldest, who left home at sixteen after being a surrogate mother to her three younger sisters most of her life. She’s headstrong and contrary. Kate, the second sister, is trapped in a stagnant marriage and acts as the group’s peacemaker. Sasha, the fiery third, is promiscuous, emotional, and unpredictable. Maggie, the youngest, was adopted by Maeve after her mother died. She’s level-headed, but always feels like an outsider.
Little Women this is not. Maeve’s chaotic history invites new drama into the lives of the sisters. Factor in the ultimatum Maeve included in her will which forces the women to live in her house for three months and it’s a hybrid version of Big Brother and the Kardashians.
The calming characters are the men: Joe Fletcher, the handsome sheriff who has eyes for Lena; Alastair, Maeve’s attorney; and Harry, Maeve’s rock-solid best friend.
A prerequisite for any novel is that the reader must care for the main characters. Without that emotional investment, it’s just lackluster voyeurism. That was the problem with Maeve’s Girls–I just didn’t care about any of them. It didn’t matter to me if they found love, success, or closure. In the end, Maeve was the real protagonist and the one whose story I would’ve liked to read in its entirety.