Tuesday, October 25, 2011

book review: Sister by Rosamund Lupton

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
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Sister from Amazon in hardback or for the Kindle.

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7 comments:

  1. I'm glad you liked this! This is one I've been wondering about because it looked interesting but wasn't sure I'd like. Now I definitely want to read this. Sounds creepy but good!

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  2. Ok, you've convinced me I have to read this! You had me at thriller.

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  3. I had heard a little about this book, but didn't really know what to expect from it, so your review was met with avid curiosity. It seems like this would be something I would enjoy, and I am going to be adding it to my list. Fantastic and very thoughtful review as well!

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  4. I've been seeing this on BookDepository's best-sellers list for months now, and have dismissed it because my own prejudice against thriller. So I'm happily surprised you liked it!

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  5. I've been seeing this on BookDepository's best-sellers list for months now, and have dismissed it because my own prejudice against thriller. So I'm happily surprised you liked it!

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  6. I read this one for book club too! I don't read many mysteries so I really enjoyed this one.

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  7. This book is suspenseful with enough twists to keep you thinking, guessing & interested. I was a bit underwhelmed with the overt genetics underpinnings. I also at times had to focus on the setting - are we in the past or the present?; however, there is an eventual payoff to the reader. The best part of this novel the author's ability to vividly portray the bonds of sisterhood.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!