In the tradition of Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge comes a dazzling debut novel about the family bonds that remain even when they seem irretrievably torn apart.
Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an everpresent threat, Bertie Fischer and her older sister, Mabel, have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings. But on the day that Bertie receives her eighthgrade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters’ and granddaughters’ lives.
What happens when nothing turns out as you planned? From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful, Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters—and sisters—of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem. Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen’s debut novel illuminates the farreaching power of family and family secrets.
©2011 Nancy Jensen (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Nancy Jensen has the natural storyteller’s ability to command attention but with sophisticated psychological understanding and beautifully crafted writing. The Sisters is a needed novel that will become a very popular classic.” (Sena Jeter Naslund, New York Times best-selling author)
I've just gotten hooked on audio book this last year & I love them. Now I can "read" a book & do other things like walk or hobbies.
I thought this book was a huge letdown and it became very tedious after realizing that.
I kept thinking it was a Forrest Gump wanna be in that so much time elapsed and the references to those years.
I may not be appreciating what the author was trying to get across but she could have given the reader more than she did with some reconciliation.
I would have given it a 4 if she had done that--but she just kept stringing me along in my opinion and at times I completely lost interest.
I finished the book simply because I had so much time already in it.
It could have been so much better.
I only bought this book because of the narrator, and the theme of "sisters", as I can pretty much tolerate the bad with the good when Cassandra Campbell is reading. I like her even, unaccented, non-dramatic readings, the way she ignores gender and does not try to deepen her voice and do manspeak, which never works and sounds ridiculous. She's able to make even the most mediocre story worth a listen, even if it's just background noise.
However, this novel is a most unfortunate study in inertia. It starts nowhere and meanders further into nowhere, with no centralizing story line, except the possible reconciliation of the sisters. And I have absolutely no interest in stories that start "back in the day", any time but now. A book has to be contemporary, with current technology and current issues in the forefront in order to keep my interest.
Back in the 30's, 40's, 60's and onward, lives were simpler, people were less preoccupied, with less of an inner life, and so their stories are less interesting, less appealing to me, anyway. And these women were not fleshed out in any detail. They all sound drab and dull and products of their time.
I wish there was a useful antidote or balancing statement to the "Publisher's Summary" which accompanies every book listing on audible.com. I find these blurbs to be very often misleading, and this section was no exception in misdescribing "The Sisters"; it was not as advertised, and no "sample" listen could indicate what is truly a story without relatable, interesting, complex characters and without dramatic appeal.
Children's book editor, writer, buyer
Despite the multiple sets of sisters in this well-crafted novel by Nancy Jensen, the title refers to Bertie and Mabel, born in the early 1900s, and their unintended estrangement, the reverberating effects of which ripple through their descendants' lives for a century. (The book ends in the early 2000s.) Woven into this galloping saga are such hot-button topics as child molestation, paternity rights, insurance fraud and post-traumatic-stress disorder, but the over-arching theme is forgiveness and especially, the lack thereof.Jensen cleverly introduces Bertie at a pivotal moment in her life (indeed, more than she realizes!) as a 14-year-old girl caught up in her hopes and dreams, thus gaining our sympathy. By the 4th chapter and ten years later, the still self-absorbed Bertie is now a shallow, petty, unforgiving woman caught up in the Depression, with two daughters, and so our sympathies fluctuate. We also follow Mabel and her family. The writing is so good that we are pulled into these new lives, in different places, at different times, with different problems, and it's possible to see the inexorable path of fate and family secrets. There's a powerful wallop to be had when Bertie's granddaughter puts into words and deeds the meaning of forgiveness.Navigating this story can be tricky without the family tree found in the hard copy. (I made notes.) (I just went online to see if the family tree appeared anywhere, but no, not in my cursory search.)Fortunately, I had read good things about this book before I found it on Audible, and I was not deterred by the Audible "reviews". To the "reviewer" ("One of the worst of all times!") who wrote that she had "absolutely no interest in stories that start 'back in the day', any time but now", I say, "Stick with Fox News, Sister."
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