The book’s main character, Addie Baum, tells the story of her life to her granddaughter, who is interviewing her about ‘how she got to be the woman she is today.’
The narrator’s life story begins in 1915 and moves through sequential years up until 1931, when she begins summing up the rest of her life.
Addie’s young adult life is not terribly different from a modern girl’s life, full of romantic disappointment, fierce friendship, an unrewarding relationship with her parents, tragedy, various jobs, and ultimately a lasting love.
The cultural rules have changed somewhat, and the dress code, but the story of a woman finding her own way in life is a timeless one.
The book was engrossing and very well written. While I did not find myself as interested in the narrator herself as I was in some of the supporting characters, I was invested in the story and continued to want to know what would happen next. Watching Addie defy the roles her parents, as well as the rest of society, wanted her to fit into, and discover how to make her own happiness, was gratifying.
Her friendships with a group of girls, a library group, called the Saturday Club, encompass a large part of the story. These relationships were probably the biggest influence on Addie’s life, helping to form her into the woman she would later become.
This book, in part, is a story about the connections between women, and their indefatigable strength in supporting one another through hardships and success. The girls from the Saturday club were likely the most important people in Addie’s world, and they remained with her into old age.
This theme of camaraderie among women brings to mind Diamant’s other well-loved work, “The Red Tent,” which was the first book of hers that I read, and which I deeply enjoyed.
“The Boston Girl” was not as satisfying as “The Red Tent,” but it was a fondly drawn portrait of a New England city and a lovely tribute to female bonding.