Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

3.5 Star

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired and round, she worships her beautiful blonde sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

Two Sisters was not at all what I expected when I started reading- I’m not sure what I was thinking it was going to be but I certainly didn’t think the intensity of the situations that unfolded would be so dramatic. The novel was intense certainly and there were a multitude of issues covered in the story line, I’m not sure I really liked it though.

I found Hogan wrote well and developed her characters with intention, the plot overall certainly made sense and there were all sorts of moments that I was engrossed in what was happening. I think I’m still dwelling on a few things that were left unexplained or unexplored though. It would have been good for me to see a bit more of Owen, the father, and his interactions with his daughters. We are only given a glimpse into his grown up life once he marries their mother Lidia and there must have been more of a story to their marriage than we were given.  

The centre of the plot revolves around Muriel, the third child who doesn’t fit into the family, and her relationship with her older sister Pia (the apple of her mother’s eye).  Pia delivers devastating news to Muriel that opens up their contact and invites a new understanding of each other- but it’s come too late to really count and in effect that ended up being depressing. It was realistic and made me think, but also made me feel awful for both of them. However, it turns out that other familial contact is created in due course, perhaps softening the blow for both myself and Muriel.  Muriel was given at least one good friend, her boss and I did feel the bond between them but we could have been given more there too.

Having worked through my thoughts I’m still on the fence about Two Sisters in terms of a top rating but I did respect the writing and the plot, even if I didn’t like it wholeheartedly.

Thank you to William Morrow for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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