Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I have mixed feelings about this novel.  I enjoyed it up to a point.  The premise is quite compelling; Beatrice, who is living and working in New York with her fiance, receives a phone call from her mother, back home in the UK, telling her that her younger sister, Tess, has gone missing.  Beatrice jumps on the next plane to London to find her sister.

 I really enjoyed the first half of the book where Bea immerses herself in the life her younger sister Tess has left behind, to try and understand what has become of her.  The story explores what it means to be an older sister and how this often gives the older sister a sense of responsibility and superiority, however misplaced feelings of "knowing best" might be.  There were other themes about relationships of many sorts, that were explored successfully in the novel.

At some point, maybe a half to two thirds of the way through, the narrative devices the author uses, just became too prominent and clunky for me.  The entire novel is told as a letter from Beatrice to her missing sister.  At first I could go along with it, but as we discover that the narrator has withheld information that it doesn't really make sense for her to have withheld, except for the purpose of the whodunit, I began to lose patience.

There were other issues that impaired my enjoyment of this novel.  Some of the writing was beautiful and at other times is was jarring.  I found the quality of the writing very inconsistent and at times downright awkward.  For instance on p.255 Beatrice describes a psychiatrist's dishevelled clothes as "He was wearing a white coat this time, but is was crumpled and a little stained, and he seemed even more scruffily hopeless."  The scruffily hopeless grated on me the first time and then she repeats it on p. 259, describing the same psychiatrist, "He was just too decent and scruffily hopeless to be connected to violence."  I mean honestly!  And no, I am not normally this nitpicking, but I felt let down, because the novel held such promise. What began really well, with good character development and good writing, ended poorly, with a cliched, overly sentimental feel. It lost me.


  1. This sounds like the work an author that might improve a lot in time-thanks for your very well done post

  2. I have mixed feelings about this book too. I think it extends past genre fiction. I found some of the writing to be really moving, especially the exploration of grief but I thought the crime aspect wasn't done well, it was so convoluted and complicated. I also didn't like the ending, I think it would have been better if it had a darker ending. Morbid, I know, but more realistic and given the tale greater impact IMO.

  3. I have skimmed your review because I plan to read this soon; I am disappointed to see that it was not a winner for you.


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