The backstory: Sister was one of the two selections for my new book club last month. I'll review the other selection, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, tomorrow. Thursday I'll opine about our joint discussion of the books, dish on my new book club, and tell you what we're reading for next month.
The basics: As Sister begins, Bee learns her pregnant younger sister Tess is missing. Bee immediately flees her fiance, job and life in New York to return to London to find her sister.
My thoughts: Thriller isn't a genre term I often use, as mystery typically seems more appropriate for the things I read. When I think of thrillers, I think of pop fiction and admit to dismissing the genre too quickly as 'person in peril.' Sister, however, is a bona fide, character-driven, literary thriller. And it's creepy. The novel is written as Bee's letter to Tess, and it is as much about Bee as it is about Tess.
Soon after Bee returns to London, Tess is found dead. The police believe she killed herself, but Bee refuses to believe it. The police dismiss Bee partially because she claims to be so close to her sister, yet Tess didn't tell her she had the baby already. Bee seeks the truth of why Tess didn't tell her as well as the truth of her death.
The premise sounds depressing and creepy, but Lupton's observations keep the bleak in check: "maybe sangfroid is in the genes of the aristocracy." As Bee feels increasingly alone, living in Tess's flat, her letter take on a remarkable self-analysis: "I was conscientious about the minutiae of life, but in the important things I was selfishly and cruelly neglectful." The search for truth takes Bee, and thus the reader, to unexpected places.
Favorite passage: "I reminded you I studied literature, didn't I? I've had an endless supply of quotations at my disposal, but they have always highlighted the inadequacy of my life rather than provided an uplifting literary score to it."
The verdict: Sister is filled with intrigue and observation. It was a gripping read, and it's one I found I enjoyed even more in hindsight. I'm already eagerly awaiting Rosamund Lupton's next novel, Afterwards, which comes out in April.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 336 pages
Publication date: June 7, 2011
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Sister from Amazon in hardback or for the Kindle.
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