three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
25-Nov-Dec-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-Rise and ShineWhen renowned morning talk-show host Meghan Fitzmaurice, flustered by her husband’s recent and unexpected departure, snaps out an expletive with her microphone still live on the air, her career and ritzy Manhattan life fall apart. Her sister Bridget, a self-deprecating social worker, must pick up the pieces and take care of her nephew Leo while Meghan flees to Jamaica. Bridget’s assets include her snappy assistant, Tequila; her wise and insightful Aunt Maureen; her low-maintenance cop boyfriend, Irving; and the street smarts she’s gained from her years in the Bronx, all flavored with the endless, hard-edged richness of post-9/11 New York.
Random House. 288 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0375502246

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"[T]he dialogue sparkles, the insights are right on, the plot is uncomplicated, and the characters are appealing. Prospective readers should reserve several afternoons on a breezy screened porch for this pleasure read." Rosanne O’Rear

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"[Quindlen’s novel is] an engrossing exploration of fame, shame, sisterhood, and schadenfreude. … Witnessing how [the protagonists] handle their personal trials and power shifts is the real reward for readers of Rise and Shine." Carole Goldberg

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"[Rise and Shine is a] literate and pleasing women’s novel. … Anna Quindlen has developed an enormously likable writing voice, and by telling her tale through the humble voice of an unassuming naif, she allows her readers the illusion that we all might live securely within the velvety pink confines of the New York maw, safely out of the way of those silver teeth." Carolyn See

Kansas City Star 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Rise and Shine drags when Bridget visits Meghan during her exile in the Caribbean. And Meghan’s husband, Evan, is too much a cipher, even for a spouse overshadowed by his megawatt star wife. And the ending is a bit too tidy. Still, the novel is adroit." Jeffrey Ann Goudie

Chicago Sun-Times 3 of 5 Stars
"There are so many notable aspects to this book—poignant description, dead-on details and rich dialogue—I’m reluctant to call attention to Quindlen’s own gaffes. But when someone of her talent settles for such a weak setup as she does in this, her fifth novel, it can’t be overlooked." Cheryl L. Reed

Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars
"[T]he biggest problem with this novel—which is very entertaining, more so if you recognize all the stages of success (the terra cotta tiles, the paillettes on an evening dress) than if you don’t—is that it takes on the shape of a doughnut, built around a character, Meghan, who isn’t worth the attention." Susan Salter Reynolds

Baltimore Sun 2.5 of 5 Stars
"With snappy sentences, sparkling metaphors and scintillating dialogue, Quindlen’s novels generally contain lackluster characters, who are dangerously close to being stereotypical, and a so-so plot. Ditto Rise and Shine." Diane Scharper

Critical Summary

Years as a New York Times op-ed columnist have honed Anna Quindlen’s writing style, and critics have nothing but praise for the sharp-eyed narration and eloquent dialogue in this novel, her fifth. Opinions differ, however, on other aspects. Some critics say Meghan’s arc in the novel is too dramatic, the contrasts between the gritty Bronx and sparkly Manhattan are overly sharp, and class distinctions are sometimes glossed over. Others, however, find charm in this very modern retelling of the ancient riches-to-rags, humble-sister-saves-the-day story. Even those who struggle with the plot and characterization agree the novel is worth reading simply for the prose.

Also by the Author

Blessings (2002): 3.5 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2003. A baby is left on 80-year-old Lydia Blessing’s doorstep and found by the wealthy widow’s caretaker, Skip Cuddy. When Skip decides to keep the infant girl, Lydia must come to terms with these changes in her present life and events from her past.