Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Title:  Sisters
Author:  Lily Tuck
Publication Information:  Atlantic Monthly Press. 2017. 176 pages.
ISBN:  0802127118 / 978-0802127112

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "We are not related - not remotely."

Favorite Quote:  "I also wanted to ask him:  And who do you love best? Me or her?"

My first reaction upon opening up this book is, "That's it?" I check my galley many times and am almost ready to send a message saying I received an excerpt and not a complete book. Then, I do a little research, and discover that I do indeed have the complete narrative and that indeed is all there is. My next reaction is, "Really?"

Anyways, past that bumpy beginning, I settle in to read the book. Short novel? Long short story? Novella? Call it what you will. Sometimes, much can be said and conveyed in a short span. So, I begin and end, reading the entire story in one sitting.

At first glance, this book is a story of a marriage, much like Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offil. Both books are about a relationship. The biggest similarity is the one that makes these books unusual. None of the characters have names. They are identified in relationship to each other. Husband. Wife. Son. Daughter.

This book, however, goes so far beyond the relationships. This is a book about one woman's obsessions and the destructive power of those obsessions. The "sisters" in this book are two women who are at different times married to the same man. The first wife is also the mother of two children - a boy and a girl - who are now the step-children of the second wife. The narrator is the second wife.

The salient facts of the relationships are as follows. Husband and wife number one were at some point happily married. They have two children together. Husband met wife number two while still married to wife number 1, "but by then he and his wife were not getting along." A divorce happened, and Husband is now married to wife number two. Marriage number two has now existed for several years for the son in now an adult and a a daughter is now married.

However, wife number two is obsessed with wife number one. This is a book of that obsession. The story is a stream of consciousness tell-all that sounds like it comes from a therapist's couch. Wife number two's memories jump through time, back and forth from the beginning of her relationship with Husband to the present time. The bigger memories are co-mingled with the minutiae of life - a speeding ticket, a meal, a dress, etc. - which add details but little relevance.

In essence, this book is a character sketch of a disturbed, obsessed mind. One element seems missing from the book. This woman displays an incredible memory for the details of years ago, but no memories indicates that any person in her life recognized her obsessions or attempted to get her help.

 Unfortunately, some of obsessive tendencies translate into actions that I do not care for. Translate that into eeewwww and just no. Saying exactly what this bend in the story is would be a spoiler. So, I am just leaving it at it's not for me. These segues could easily have been left out without impacting what story there is.

The ending, though not surprising, is very abrupt. The ending symbolizes the effect of her obsessions but clearly would not the end of the obsessions. Thus, the book at this end feels unfinished. Overall, an unlikable main character and story line but a memorable book for its short length and unusual approach.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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