Things I Want My Daughters To Know

My copy of Elizabeth Noble’s Things I Want My Daughters To Know is part of my Diwali gift from the hubby. When he asked me what I wanted for Diwali, I told him to get me some books from my wish-list. And being the sweet soul that he is, he did. 🙂 I got Things I Want My Daughters To Know, A Bear Called Paddington, and The Uncommon Reader.

I somehow felt that I would like Things I Want My Daughters To Know, and started reading it as soon as it arrived.  I carried it with me on my Kerala trip too, where I had plenty of uninterrupted time to read it. I finally finished it yesterday and, I must say, the book has not let me down.

Things I Want My Daughters To Know, as the title suggests, is the story of Barbara and her four daughters – Amanda, Lisa, Jennifer and Hannah. Barbara is dying – of cancer – and she feels helpless at not being able to help her daughters with the problems in their lives. Amanda is an escapist – she runs away (as in takes off on a trip to unheard-of places) whenever the going gets tough. Lisa is a commitment-phobic – in a relationship with Andy, who loves her to bits, but unable to commit herself to him. Jennifer is too meek, and trapped in a dead marriage with Stephen. Hannah is the typical teenager – a rather sweet girl, but on the verge of discovering the teenage world of drugs, parties, smoking, boys, late nights, make-up and rebellion. I have to mention Mark as well, who is an important part of Barbara’s family – Mark is Barbara’s husband, and she keeps worrying how he will take life after her death.

Barbara writes letters to all four of her daughters, and to Mark, telling them things that they should know, as well as things that she has never been able to tell them in person. She also leaves behind a diary that she started when she started care for cancer. Things I Want My Daughters To Know is the tale of how Mark and the sisters get through life, and how they are transformed by the sound advice that Barbara gives them.

I loved the way the author has portrayed every character in this book – all the characters are totally different in personality, and Noble has brought that out well. I couldn’t help falling in love with Barbara’s character – feisty, full of life – a person who wants everyone to be passionate and noisy and happy as she is. Mark is just adorable, and awesome – he’s just too good.

The book is a tad long, but at no point boring or dragging. I loved the descriptions. I would hate to classify this book as chick-lit, as it is more meaningful than many brainless chick-lits, but it is no great tome of philosophy either. It is just a simple, sincere, light, feel-good book, which left me with many emotions – warmth, sadness, joy, and love. It is perfect reading for a lazy day when you want something light which also feels good.

Recommended? Yes.

I look forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Noble as well.


I read this book for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge 2010. The author, I believe, is from USA. I have already read one book for this year’s challenge from USA, but I have to include this, too. This book had me feeling, throughout, HOW MUCH the culture there is different from what it is in India. And that’s the goal of the Challenge, isn’t it?

And with this book, I complete OT 10. 🙂



Filed under Reading Ramana

12 responses to “Things I Want My Daughters To Know

  1. A lovely review for a lovely sounding book! My best friend got me “The Reading Group” by Elizabeth Noble as a gift but he is yet to have it shipped to me. I can’t wait! You have gotten yourself a lovely haul for Diwali 🙂 Hope you have a lot of fun!

    • priyaiyer


      Oh it is a lovely book. Guess you would like it. 🙂
      I have heard a lot about The Reading Group, and saw it in the bookstore when I went recently, but I was too much fixated on this book to buy it. 🙂

  2. Great review, Priya. It sounds like a good book to read and share with actual daughters.

  3. I loved this book! I really like Elizabeth Noble’s writing, and I think this is one of her best 🙂 Lovely review, Priya!

    • priyaiyer


      I loved this one, too. I bought Elizabeth Noble’s Alphabet Weekends recently, and can’t wait to begin it! 🙂

  4. I hv nt read this one. Will pik it up soon 🙂

  5. Pingback: OT ’10 Wrap-up | uniquely priya

  6. Veens

    I remember one of my friends recommending this to me 🙂 I will surely check this author out!

  7. Pingback: Best of 2010 – Books « uniquely priya

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