From Anna Quindlen, acclaimed author of Blessings, Black and Blue, and One True Thing, a superb novel about two sisters, the true meaning of success, and the qualities in life that matter most.
It’s an otherwise ordinary Monday when Meghan Fitzmaurice’s perfect life hits a wall. A household name as the host of Rise and Shine, the country’s highest-rated morning talk show, Meghan cuts to a commercial break–but not before she mutters two forbidden words into her open mike.
In an instant, it’s the end of an era, not only for Meghan, who is unaccustomed to dealing with adversity, but also for her younger sister, Bridget, a social worker in the Bronx who has always lived in Meghan’s long shadow. The effect of Meghan’s on-air truth telling reverberates through both their lives, affecting Meghan’s son, husband, friends, and fans, as well as Bridget’s perception of her sister, their complex childhood, and herself. What follows is a story about how, in very different ways, the Fitzmaurice women adapt, survive, and manage to bring the whole teeming world of New York to heel by dint of their smart mouths, quick wits, and the powerful connection between them that even the worst tragedy cannot shatter.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.15(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.64(d)|
About the Author
ANNA QUINDLEN is the author of five novels (Blessings, Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Rise and Shine), and six nonfiction books (Being Perfect, Loud & Clear, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud, How Reading Changed My Life). She has also written two children's books (The Tree That Came to Stay, Happily Ever After). Her New York Times column "Public and Private" won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Her column now appears every other week in Newsweek.
Hometown:New York, New York
Date of Birth:July 8, 1952
Place of Birth:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:B.A., Barnard College, 1974
Read an Excerpt
From time to time some stranger will ask me how I can bear to live in New York City. Sometimes it happens when I am on vacation, passing the time in a buffet line filled with the sunburned and the semidrunk. Sometimes it comes up at a professional conference, drinking coffee in the corner of a hotel meeting room with a clutch of social workers, most of them wearing the dirndl skirts and dangling earrings of the socially conscious woman of a certain age. My aunt's friends will ask, although they live only a half hour north, up the Saw Mill Parkway, but in a state of bucolic isolation that might as well be Maine.
Even in New York itself I will sometimes hear the question, from the ld men on the Coney Island boardwalk who knew Irving Lefkowitz when he was a bar mitzvah boy and who, from their benches on the Brooklyn beach, envision the long and slender island of Manhattan as an urban Titanic, sinking beneath the weight of criminals, homosexuals, and atheists, sailing toward certain disaster.
"And you live there why, sweetheart?" one of them once asked me with an openmouthed squint, his neck thrust forward from the V of a ratty cardigan so that he looked like a Galápagos tortoise with a wool-Dacron argyle shell.
Sometimes, if I'm tired, I just shrug and say I like it here. Sometimes, if I'm in a foul mood or have had a bit too much to drink, which often amounts to the same thing, I will say I live in New York because it is the center of the universe.
Most of the time I say my sister lives here and I want to be near her, and her husband, who is like a brother to me, and her son, whom I covertly think of as at least partly my own. The old men like that answer. They make a humming sound of approbation and nod their mottled hairless heads. A good girl. A family person. They peer up at Irving. The next question will be about marriage. We flee to Nathan's for a hot dog.
I do like it here. It is the center of the universe.
And I do want to be near my sister, as I always have been. We have our rituals. Every Saturday morning, unless she is covering the Olympics, the Oscars, a disaster, or an inauguration, my sister and I go running together in the park and have breakfast either at her apartment or at the Greek diner down the street from mine. She will tell you she is forced to set a slower pace because I don't exercise enough. She sees this as evidence of my essential sloth. I see it as emblematic of our relationship. Our aunt Maureen says that I was a baby so plump and phlegmatic that the only reason I learned to walk was so I could follow my older sister. Some of my earliest memories are of wandering down a street of old Dutch Colonials and long-leafed pines, the backs of a covey of eight-year-old girls half a block in front of me, the demand from the one at their center carrying on the breeze: "Bridget! Go home! Go home now! You can't come!"
I'm always a little breathless when I run with Meghan on Saturday mornings. But I'm accustomed to it now. "Listen and learn," she has said to me since we were in high school, and I always have.
"How weird is it that we were at the same dinner party last night?" she said one overcast March morning as we began to trot down the park drive in tandem, and I tried not to hear that long-ago plaint in her comment: Go home, Bridget! You can't come. It had indeed been strange to enter a vast living room, beige velvet and Impressionist paintings, and see her at one end nursing a glass of sparkling water. Our hostess had attempted to introduce us, since no one ever suspected Meghan and I were related. Then she had disappeared to hand off the bunch of anemones bound with ribbons I had given her at the door.
"God, flowers, Bridge?" my sister said, running around a stroller-size class of new mothers trying to trim their baby bodies. "I couldn't believe you brought flowers to a dinner party. That's the worst. With everything else you have to do when people are showing up, you have to stop to find a vase and fill a vase and cut the stems and then find a place for them and if they're blue, Jesus, I never know where to put them in our apartment, and then-"
"How is it possible that you can make bringing someone flowers sound like the Stations of the Cross?"
"Sometimes I just leave them on the kitchen counter and toss them with the leftovers." I knew this was not exactly true; Meghan had long had staff to toss the leftovers, and the people from Feeding Our People, the big society starvation charity, sent over a van to pick up the excess food from her larger dinner parties. "Just bring wine. Even if they don't want to use it they can put it away for cocktail parties. Or wait and send an orchid plant the next day. I don't know why, but every damn living room on the East Side has to have an orchid plant. I think they're creepy, like big white bugs. They don't look like flowers at all."
"I thought you loved them. You always have one on that chest under the windows."
"What can I tell you? I'm a slave to fashion."
We always see the same people when we run: the soap opera actor with the carefully tinted hair and heavily muscled legs, the small woman with the spiky gray hair who had the ropy muscles and sharp bones of a marathoner, the Chinese couple who wore identical fashionable warm-up suits and ran with a pair of borzois. One of our regular anorexics streaked past us, collarbone draped in the shroud of an extra-large Harvard sweatshirt. "You know that woman who does the financial news? Grace Shelton?" Meghan said.
"The one with that great haircut?"
"I don't understand why everyone says that. That haircut is not that great."
"Okay, fine. What's the point?"
"Someone told me that she doesn't eat anything except apples and Triscuits."
"That can't be true."
"Probably not, but you never know."
A runner in front of us turned and began to run backward. Meghan dipped her head so that the bill of her cap covered her face.
"I want to go back to the dinner gift issue," I said. "How much does an orchid plant cost?"
"A hundred and fifty dollars. You have to send the ones with two stems."
"Jesus Christ. That's a lot of money for a stranger who invites you to dinner."
"Accepted and acknowledged," Meghan said. Like the aunt who raised us, Meghan has a variety of expressions that she uses constantly and whose meaning is somewhat obscure on their face. This one has endured for decades. I think it was even beneath her yearbook picture. Once she told me it meant "I know but I don't care."
On the sidewalk, glittery with mica in the late winter sunlight, a solitary glove lay, palm up, as though pleading for spare change. Meghan barely broke stride as she lifted it and blew through the doors of her building. "Good morning, Ms. Fitzmaurice," the doorman said. The modern honorific was articulated plainly, a sound like a buzzing bee. The building staff know our Meghan.
"Can you see if someone dropped this?" she said, handing over the glove. "It's a shame this late in the season for somebody to find out they're one short."
"Of course," he replied.
"I'm such a good citizen," she muttered as we got into the elevator and Meghan took off the baseball cap that shaded her face so conveniently.
"Oh, get over yourself," I said.
"I am so over myself."
We are creatures of habit, Meghan and I. At the diner we have western omelets and rye toast; at her house we have oatmeal and orange juice. This works fine because we live in the city of habit. New York is so often publicly associated with creativity and innovation that outsiders actually come to believe it. The truth is that behavior here is as codified as the Latin Mass. The dinner party the night before had been no exception. The dining room walls glazed red, the tone-on-tone tablecloths, the low centerpiece of roses and some strange carnivorous-looking tulips. The single man on one side of me. "I hear you're a social worker," he said as we both lifted our napkins and placed them on our laps, as so many had said before him.
That was best case, of course. At the home of one donor to the women's shelter where I work, two men who were equity traders spent an entire dinner talking to each other about the market within spitting distance-literally-of my face, bent so close above my dinner that I couldn't reach my bread plate. At the duplex apartment of a woman who worked with my brother-in-law at Sensenbrenner Lamott, I'd turned to the man on my left and asked, "How do you know Amelia?" and watched his face crumble and tears run into his beard. Everyone at the table ignored the display as he talked of his wife, who had been our hostess's college roommate and who had left him for a well-connected lesbian who lived in London. With very little help from me he worked his way through their college years, marriage, apartment renovation, career changes, and the dinner party (of course) where he himself had been the lesbian's dinner partner, the hostess having mistaken her for a more conventional single woman. He had invited the woman to their home for brunch because the two shared an interest in Fiesta ware, an interest his wife had never, in his words, "given a tinker's damn about." ("Oh, God, he's gay himself," Meghan had said at our next breakfast. "What kind of straight man even knows what Fiesta ware is?") In the face of his grief and rage, the table had fallen silent except for the torrent of words from one stay-at-home mother, who was doing a monologue about her child's learning disabilities.
It wasn't always that bad, of course. I once dated a professor at NYU for almost a year after I met him at a dinner party given by a woman who'd graduated from Smith and whom I met at an alumnae phonathon. I developed a firm friendship with a lighting tech who works on Broadway shows, an Irish expat named Jack who was seated next to me at a neighbor's annual Fourth of July potluck.
That was a good dinner, excellent company, excellent food. There were figs with goat cheese stuffed inside, and pumpkin bisque, and rack of lamb with broccoli rabe. The men all run together in my head, all the lawyers/filmmakers/academics/brokers/editors with whom I've been paired. But I almost always remember the food, even the bad food. There was a lot of that in the early days, before all around me grew rich while I moved from a studio to a bigger studio to a small one-bedroom to a one-bedroom with a window in the kitchen, that window that will be presented by brokers to apartment supplicants as though it were a fresco by Michelangelo. As, by Manhattan standards, it is.
For some of us the kitchen with the window means we have finally arrived at some precarious level of prosperity. For others it was a momentary triumph, a way station between the first book proposal and the third bestseller, the summer associate's job and the partnership, the husband who teaches comparative lit at Columbia and the one who runs the big brokerage house. One moment a kitchen with a blessed window, the next a kitchen with two imported dishwashers, two glass-fronted fridges, terra-cotta floors, stainless countertops, an extra-deep sink, a tap over the restaurant range for the pasta pots, designed in consultation with the caterers because they use it more than the homeowners. The kitchen is always hidden in the back of the apartment, away from the pricey views of Central Park and the master bedroom with the cherry chest at the foot of the bed that holds the television, which rises up out of the chest at the touch of a bedside button. It's funny how everyone feels they need to hide the TVs and the food, since both are the things they talk about most often. Meghan's kitchen has a flat-screen television, although Meghan hates to watch TV when she is not working.
"Where's Evan?" I mumbled with my mouth full.
"Evan? Evan who? Oh, you mean my husband? That is his name, isn't it? Evan."
"I'm sorry I asked," I said.
"Evan is at the office. The office here, not the office in London or the one in Tokyo, although God knows he's spent enough time in both in the last six months. When he's in New York, he usually comes home when I'm already asleep. I turn over and look and say to myself, Yep, that's him. Every dinner party now, he says, I'm exhausted, can you go without me? And people accuse me of being a workaholic. Which reminds me: Where the hell do the guys keep the Tupperware?"
Only the team of Robert and John, who made the meals, served the meals, and cleaned up after the meals, had a clue where anything was stored in Meghan and Evan's kitchen. Except for Leo, my nephew, he of the take-out Chinese and late-night ramen noodles, of the endless bowls of Count Chocula and the ice cream eaten straight from the container. He'd shown me where the Tupperware was one night when we'd eaten enough rice pudding to kill us both.
"In the square cabinet over the wine fridge," I said.
Another reason not to bring flowers: the lady of the house doesn't know where the vases are kept. If she had to find the vacuum cleaner or the Windex, the world would stop on its axis.
"Why do you need Tupperware?" I asked.
"We're doing a Tupperware party on the air on Monday morning, and apparently I'm going to have to do something called burping the Tupperware. We talked ad nauseam about whether it would be better if it was clear that I didn't know what the hell burping the Tupperware meant or if I burped it convincingly. With authority, I think they said. I opted for authority."
"Of course you did. On the other hand, it's hard to figure how anyone can look authoritative with Tupperware. I mean-Tupperware. Who cares?"
My sister gave me a long level look, her lip slightly raised on one side. "Maybe you're preaching to the converted here?"
"Hey, who am I to talk? I spent yesterday trying to break up a bootleg sneaker ring that apparently is being fronted by two of the women living in our shelter. The precinct was nice about it, but they said either we could shut down the Nike Air operation or they could shut us down."
Reading Group Guide
1. Rise and Shine centers on the unique bond of sisterhood—potentially one of the most supportive, competitive, and difficult relationships in life. Describe Bridget and Meghan’s relationship and how each woman views her sister, and herself. What roles do they each play? Does this portrait of sisterhood reflect your own relationship with a sibling, or perhaps with a close friend? Do you identify with one of the Fitzmaurice sisters more than the other?
2. Meghan’s audacious on-air slip, and its repercussions, incites the novel’s forward action. How would you judge the seasoned anchorwoman’s mistake? Was she wrong to let her personal opinion and emotions show? Do you believe that the network’s reaction was justified? Finally, what do you think of the public’s response to Meghan’s fall from grace?
3. Describe Anna Quindlen’s portrait of New York City. Is the Big Apple “unequivocally the center of the universe,” as some New Yorkers believe? Compare Bridget and Tequila’s experiences at the shelter with Meghan’s worldview from the Upper East Side. How does Quindlen attempt to capture all sides of the city?
4. Describe Meghan and Bridget’s conflicting perceptions and memories of their mother. How does the loss of their mother shape the Fitzgerald sisters’ lives and ways of relating to each other? What role does Aunt Maureen play?
5. Is Evan justified in leaving Meghan, or do you agree with Bridget, that there must have been another woman in the picture right from the start? What factors led to the failure of their relationship? How does Bridget deal with the breakup? Meghan?
6. Meghan retreats to Jamaica to escape the turmoil in her life and, in doing so, detaches from her old persona and responsibilities. What did you think of this episode? Was Meghan being selfish by isolating herself? How did it affect Leo? Bridget? Or was this period in Meghan’s life necessary and inevitable? Finally, discuss the outcome of the trip. Does Meghan sustain this growth of character when she reenters the real world? How about Bridget?
7. What attracts Bridget to Irving Lefkowitz? Describe Irving’s attitude toward children and his reaction to Bridget’s unexpected news. Will this relationship work for Bridget? Why or why not?
8. Bridget’s daily experience in New York City is marked by relationships with “familiar strangers.” What does she mean by this? Are there “familiar strangers” in your own life?
9. Discuss Meghan’s role in apprehending the shooter in the Tubman projects; was her involvement self-serving, or was she defending her son and the safety of others? What were her true motivations, and how were her actions perceived? Do you agree with Meghan’s decision to take matters into her own hands?
10. Quindlen writes in the first person, from Bridget’s perspective. What effect does this narrative viewpoint have on the story? How would the book be different if it were told from Meghan’s point of view?
11. In the last few pages of the novel, Quindlen writes, “Does someone have to break so someone else can be whole?” (p. 268). Who in Rise and Shine breaks, and who has been made whole? Is there more than one way to think about this question?
12. The dust jacket for Rise and Shine shows a beautiful butterfly, a symbol of metamorphosis. How does the concept of change apply to the characters in the novel? Consider, especially, Meghan and Bridget, Evan, Leo, Irving, Tequila, and Princess Margaret. Have you undergone similar changes in your own life? Finally, how did your opinion of the Fitzmaurice sisters, and your assessment of their relative strengths and weaknesses, evolve over the course of the novel?
13. What do you think defines a “successful” life? According to your definition, who is the most successful character in Rise and Shine? Does success equal happiness? How does that concept play out in the novel, and what do Bridget and Meghan come to understand by the end?
14. Does Rise and Shine have a happy ending? What new directions and challenges face the Fitzmaurice sisters, Leo, Irving, and the others?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
bad. disappointing. what a let down. vain, vacuous characters. I really like this writer, but hate this book.
I loved Anna Quindlen's columns and thought this looked interesting, but it was almost unreadable. It was boring and rambling. I stopped reading and just skimmed to the end. I should have read the reviews before I bought the book.
I love Anna Quindlen's columns. I did not love this book. Maybe she would be surprised to discover that many of us in the 'suburbs', i.e., what New Yorkers consider anything but their city, are pretty sophisticated and experience many of the things she seems to think apply only to New Yorkers. I don't want to give away any of the plot - although please save you money on this book - but I could see the 'crisis' coming a mile away as well as what happens to Bridgett. I got sick after a while reading the name Meghan, Meghan, Meghan and found her sister Bridgett a bore. I did not enjoy 'Black and Blue' nor 'Blessings' and I guess I will stick to just reading Quindlen's columns. Trite plot, trite characters.
I have read quite a few books by this author, but never could get into this book. I found it BORING!
Spoiler alert: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE FOR EVERYONE.
I bought this as a bargain book based on the description on the book jacket. Sounded like an entertaining book, but it turns out -- not so much. I got very irritated at the characters: their lives seemed just a little too, too lucky: lucky to have rich friends with an all but private island where you can lick your wounds; lucky to have a rich and famous sister to invite you to all these great parties; lucky to have a wonderful, caring, fortuitously-connected man in one's life; lucky to have such a wonderful son/cool nephew/caring aunt/caring mother; blah-blah-blech. You get the picture -- everything works out just a little too well for pretty much everyone. The author makes even the very grim life of the projects seem not quite so bad.
Yeah, yeah, I know that there's that one sorrowful, tragic event at the center of the novel, but it involves a character who's just too good to be true. You just know that he will rise above the tragedy to be an even better human being (if that's possible for someone who isn't a product of immaculate conception). In presenting how this tragedy plays out, Quindlen misses the opportunity to contrast the world of very rich and fabulous Manhattanites with that of the great unwashed (to give her her due, she does remember to do this in other places, just not here).
Very disappointing book. Perfect Lifetime movie.
I paid 35 cents for this book on a bargain table at a used book store. It was too much money for the book. So much beating up of the middle class with no accountability for the lower class actions. Blah Blah Blah
This is not at all as good as her other books...this is just self indulgent fluff at best...don't bother..she must have been trying to meet a deadline...
This was my first AQ book and I have to say I won't be reading anymore. The story never pulled me in but I kept reading hoping it would get better. It never did. I was very disappointed.
I read Quindlen's book twice to review for my book club. It was one of the worst books that I have ever read. But for Quindlen's established reputation, the book would not have been published. The inconsistencies in the story line are too numerous to mention. Very bad editing job.
Bought the book as soon as it was released without hesitation. Read other books by this author and enjoyed them. This was the worst I have read by this author and probably will be the last. Couldn't even finish the last 50 pages. I wasn't at all connected to the characters.
I liked, but certainly didn't love, this book about the relationship between two sisters. Meghan is the fabulously wealthy, incredibly famous, much beloved star of a morning television talk show. Her younger sister Bridget is a social worker in the Bronx. Meghan's seemingly perfect life changes when she inadvertantly curses on air while cutting to a commercial. Bridget, used to living in her older sister's shadow, feels the effect of the mistake as well. Their story of how they deal with the fallout, told by Bridget, follows from there. It is certainly an easy read. Most of the characters are interesting, but I didn't really connect to any of them. At one point toward the end Bridget lashes out at her sister. While I assume it was supposed to be a pivotal moment, I found it to be random -- completely out of character and nonsensical for Bridget to come to the conclusion she did. I thought a story about sisters would resonate with me because I have six, but instead it was simply a pleasant read with a contrived ending.Also, perhaps it is just me, but I wish people who live in New York City understood that those of us who don't live there don't spend our every waking moment wondering what it must be like and wishing to understand all its idiosyncrasies. Almost every chapter began with some piece of information about NYC that I am sure I was supposed to treat as the reveal of a great mystery, but most of the time the information was not novel to NYC. My favorite was a long discussion about how people who don't live there don't understand that you can't lose yourself in New York because New Yorkers know each other, recognizing their neighbors even if they don't know their names. Huh? Does Ms. Quindlen really think people in Cleveland or Houston or Chicago or even any small town in the US don't have the same experience? Early on Bridget says New York is the center of the universe; her lengthy comments about the city didn't persuade me.
I didn't care about one character, I didn't care about the plot, I was completely not buying what she was selling.
i didn't care for the younger sisters naration of her life and family drama. too new york, upper class, blah blah blah for my midwestern taste.
very disappointed in this book. loved "black and blue." i so did not care about the characters in "rise and shine." i continued reading hoping it would get better, but it didn't.
This was difficult to get into and although I stuck with it it was trite and actually silly...quite a few times. I wish I had not bothered to finish it. Read the author's earlier books...
Rise and Shine was our book club`s selection for this month. I and others in my group have read some of her other books and have enjoyed them, however, I decided this morning to quit reading at page 144. I found the storyline to be as shallow as the characters and at times the constant rambling made it difficult to follow. I wasn`t even interested enough in this story to read the last 50 pages.
The first AQ (Anna Quindlan) book that I read was 'Object Lessons' which I loved. I recently purchased 'Blessings' that rambled in boring descriptive details for several pages which made me put it down. I picked it up a couple of months later and still could not get past those few boring pages so threw it in the trash. I just finished 'Rise and Shine' and while I felt it was somewhat entertaining, the book is riddled with AQ's babbling, descriptive, garbage that you just get lost in and it essentially means nothing to the story it just adds words to the book. She must get paid by the number of words typed. She gets lost in her own garbage because it makes no sense. I wouldn't recommend any of her books anymore.
I wish I had read more of the review on this book. As I tried to plug through it, I thought this is one of the worst books I have read in a long time. I have liked books by this author, I'm sure, but this is just terrible. The characters were either too silly or too perfect. I just can't recommend this book. It oozed with such nonsense. Not good.
Will read more Anna Quinlan.
Really enjoyable book. Perfect summer read.
This novel had a good premise. It's basically the story of two adult sisters, one of whom lives in the spotlight as a morning talk show host, the other who lives a quieter life in her sister's shadow. The core of the book centers around the superstar sister's "fall from grace", when two profanities slip out of her mouth while the cameras are still rolling. It's a unique idea for a storyline. But the book is more about the relationship between the sisters & how it evolves & changes. And that's where it fell flat. It was unremarkable, really, and I found the sisters' relationship tiring and annoying most of the time. I don't have a sister, so maybe I just couldn't relate, but the story never did succeed in drawing me in. The last portion of the book was especially disappointing. It was as if Quindlen decided to push the fast forward button after writing the majority of the novel in slow motion. Not a very smooth transition, in my opinion. I've not read any of Anna Quindlen's other novels, although I had the impression she was a decent writer. This is just obviously not one of her best.
A little slow to start, but very relateable and human.
I really liked the Tale of Two Cities aspect of this wonderful story of two sisters -- the ultrawealthy NYC and the impoverished NYC. Characters are very well drawn, and the relationship between Meghan and Bridget Fitzmaurice lives and breathes.
Literary Fiction. Relationship between two sisters. One works for television news station and the other a homeless shelter. Very wordy.