REVIEW: SISTER OF MINE, BY LAURIE PETROU

 

Penny and Hattie, orphaned sisters in a small town, are best friends, bound together to the point of knots. But Penny, at the mercy of her brutal husband, is desperate for a fresh start. Willing to do anything for her older sister, Hattie agrees to help. A match is struck and a fire burns Penny’s marriage to the ground. With her husband gone, Penny is free, and the sisters, it seems, get away with murder. But freedom comes at a cost.

More than a year after the fire, a charming young man comes to town. Hattie and Penny quickly bring him into the fold and into their hearts but their love for him threatens the delicate balance. Soon long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid boil over, and the bonds of sisterhood begin to snap. As one little lie grows into the next, the sisters’ secrets will unravel, eroding their lives until only a single, horrible truth remains: You owe me.

My Thoughts: Sisterhood bonds can be sweet and loving, but they can also be tight and destructive. Sister of Mine is a mix of all these ingredients, but with the passage of time, the tight and destructive bonds would be their undoing.

Orphaned and living in a small town, Penny and Hattie Grayson often feel the eyes of the judgers upon them. Sometimes the scrutiny makes Hattie, the younger sister, act out more. She loves the center of attention, and she also enjoys stirring up rivalry with her sister. Their mother nurtured that spark of competition between them, and remembering her reignites it.

What deep, dark secret strengthens the ties between the sisters, and not in a good way? As we immerse ourselves in their story, a slow burn brings the dark secret into the light, and it is only near the end of the book that we fully realize what had happened one dark and dangerous night.

Hattie moved in and out of the home over the years, and each time she left, Penny savored the freedom from her sister’s constant reminders and taunts. The legacy of their secret.

How does adding a man and a child into the mix up the ante for the two of them? Why do some of the more troubled townsfolk continually tug away at the past until everything comes tumbling down?

As I turned the pages of this dark and sinister tale that shined a light on a truly dysfunctional connection, I couldn’t stop reading. Parts of the story were repetitive, but in the end I awarded 4.5 stars.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: THE EXCELLENT LOMBARDS, BY JANE HAMILTON

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Mary Frances (Frankie) Lombard and her older brother William have grown up with a deep love and sense of connection to the Lombard farm. Despite knowing that the partnership between their father and his cousin Sherwood might cause problems with their future legacy, the hope for that future remains strong.

The Excellent Lombards is a coming-of-age tale set in Wisconsin that features young Frankie, and from her perspective, we learn what growing up under these circumstances has instilled in her. We come to understand how she might feel threatened by interlopers like distant cousin Philip, and the ominous presence of his aunt, May Hill, who has some ownership in the property as well.

From her pre-adolescent self to young adulthood, we see how she grows and changes, and observe the various influences on her young life.

The sense of competition flourishes among the various relatives, and at times, it seems like a good thing. Until it isn’t.

How will Frankie eventually resolve her plight? What will her future hold for her, and will she be able to merge her various passions and make a life for herself?

The story unfolded slowly, revealing the emotions, the connections, and what life looked like on a farm that might, eventually, be sold off in order to make way for subdivisions. A changing landscape that mimics how the world in the 21st Century has built upon past versions of a country, a nation.  Rating:

ratings worms 4-cropped

***

 

 

REVIEW: THE ROCKS, BY PETER NICHOLS

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The lovely Mediterranean setting was a great draw for this book, but the unusual writing style left me feeling confused a lot of the time.

The writer takes us from the present, in the opening chapter, and then swerves back to the past, and we see the characters in their earlier incarnations.

Two primary characters, Lulu Davenport and Gerald Rutledge, octogenarians at the beginning, were once in love…and as the story spins back in time, we see what happened to them over the years. Their children and grandchildren are the recipients of their legacy and their traditions, and while I love the idea of such events, I simply did not enjoy The Rocks: A Novel.

Many others will probably engage with this story, but I was not one of them. Three stars.