Sister – Rosamund Lupton – 8/10

Dear Rosamund,

How dare you? I can’t even start this review with a quote, I’m so furious. Sister is excellent. Magnificent. Just enough tension to be gripping without being terrifying (see my reaction to Mice). Plenty of sister-love. Lots of London-love. A nice bit of transatlantic “I wasn’t there” guilt.

And then you went and RUINED IT with that wimp of an ending. A non-ending, if you will. A coda abbandonnata. You leave it up to the reader? Seriously? Who does that? You know who? Me. In my GCSE coursework. When I was 15. I studied Physics at uni so you should understand that I am the world’s worst creative writer. Worse than Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer and every bosom-heaving, bodice-ripping, flower-despoiling romance writer there ever was. Even J.K. Rowling knew that we were not having it left up to the reader as to whether Ron and Hermione got together and had unfortunately-tressed mini-magicians, OK, she told us! In a terrible prologue which turned me off the franchise altogether, but she told us.

Do you realise that the whole book doesn’t make sense if you don’t resolve the ending? Only one half of it does? The only half only does if the ending goes one way, not the other? Because *can’t rant about why because it would be a massive spoiler* – and therefore you haven’t failed to write an ending, you’ve just forgotten to put the last 5 pages in – or not realised the logical fallacy.

OK? Have I made myself heard? I DID NOT LIKE THIS ENDING BECAUSE IT IS NOT AN ENDING, YOU LEFT OFF FIVE PAGES.

Right, now I can write the love letter to this book that I wanted to write until I got to the last page and there wasn’t another one.

I love the double thread structure – one a letter from Beatrice (Bee) to younger sister Tess, who is the titular missing sibling; the other Bee recounting everything to someone else in a professional capacity. I only realised halfway through that the fact that Bee was telling everything to someone meant that the truth was definitely down one path. The double structure is a great way to make the plot both devastatingly personal and clinically precise.

I didn’t see the ending coming at all, you pulled the old one-two on me there (I’m not ashamed, PI novel writers do it to me all the time), of course one of the most sympathetic characters turns out to be the baddie, and there’s a chilling resolution rather than a neat one with handcuffs which starts out good until YOU FORGOT FIVE PAGES *calming down again*

London London London. Hyde Park in the snow. Those dreadful subterranean flats with slippery stairs in winter and lovely elderly landlords. The tube and the smell of “burned rubber sweat”; the abundance of daffodils and the torture of hayfever sufferers; the understaffed hospitals and the underclass of single mothers, alone in this huge city in which no one should be alone and yet everyone is. You got London.

Just like you got being a big sister. The fear of not being there. The need to be organised and ruthless and trade an exciting life for safety and comfort. Just like Rose in The Weird Sisters. The memories of time before there was a littler sibling, but not many of them.

There are lots of men in this novel, and I like it all the more for it. Unlike The Women, (the dreadful 2008 film) in which no men appear at all, here they’re everywhere. There’s Bea’s fiancé, quite drippy and annoying and prejudicial but we like him anyway. There DS Finborough, a much better policeman than DI Haines, who is the embodiment of the Peter principle. There are three doctors, kind and overworked, whose personal and professional integrities waxe and wane during this tale.

I would have given you 10/10 and put you right up there with my top books for the year, except for that slip I mentioned earlier.

Yours disappointedly and also euphorically,

Yvann

Other notes:

I seem to have read huge numbers of sister books recently – or maybe they stick with me because I have a Mini-Me. Maybe books about small children will resonate more when I have some. All the sister books I have read been excellent: The Weird Sisters, The Distance Between Us, The Thirteenth Tale, The Seamstress.

Reviews by other bloggers: Petrona, Fleur Fisher, S. KrishnaNPR, JoV at Bibliojunkie, Amused By Books, It’s A Crime

Oh and here is a picture:

Additional info:
Borrowed from the library.
Publisher: Piatnik (Little Brown Group), paperback, 358 pages.
Order this from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.
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15 thoughts on “Sister – Rosamund Lupton – 8/10

  1. Mini-Me 7 September 2011 at 5:28 pm Reply

    I do love the fact I’m influencing your reading! 🙂

  2. Maxine 7 September 2011 at 5:56 pm Reply

    Like you, I thought this book very moving and emotional in its depiction of the relationship between the sisters and the mother, but as a crime plot it was both weak (unresolved ending as you point out) and a cheat (false witness narrator). But, I still enjoyed it for the first part. I am undecided whether to read her second, though.

    • readingwithtea 7 September 2011 at 6:14 pm Reply

      I will read her second to see if she has improved. I think she should write litfic rather than crime.

  3. FleurFisher 7 September 2011 at 7:36 pm Reply

    Well said! For me this was pitch-perfect emotionally, but the crime story was weak and the ending infuriating.

    I started the second book, but I disliked the conceit of a narrator who was lying unconcious but able to watch her loved ones and so I put it down again.

    • readingwithtea 7 September 2011 at 8:19 pm Reply

      Goodness that sounds awful. Although somewhat like Moon Tiger, which I rather liked.

  4. Ruth 8 September 2011 at 6:42 am Reply

    I loved your review, and the passion behind it! I’ve not read Sister, but my mom read it a while ago and said the same – great book, rubbish ending.

    BTW, that film The Women IS dire, but the original 30s movie of the same name is brilliant (I avoid remakes in general and Meg Ryan in particular.)

    Thanks for brightening up my morning with your great review! 🙂

    • readingwithtea 8 September 2011 at 7:48 am Reply

      Yes I’ve heard that the original “The Women” is brilliant. I will have to look it up. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. The Book Whisperer 9 September 2011 at 7:08 am Reply

    Brilliant review! I haven’t read the book, but thanks for making me laugh with your little rant 😉

    I actually have this book at home and despite what you said I am now even more curious to try it to see if I have the same reaction.

  6. JoV 9 September 2011 at 8:55 pm Reply

    I like to think and strongly believe the ending is a happy one. All cues pointed that there are more help to come, with her new found sisterly Polish friend to the rescue (Opps! did I introduce a major spoiler?!! who cares!) I will read her next novel. I think she is talented.

  7. Nose in a book 17 September 2011 at 3:55 pm Reply

    You know, the more you ranted the more you made me want to read it! Great review.

  8. Penny 5 November 2011 at 4:08 pm Reply

    I loved this book. As much for the depictions of Beatrice, in her own eyes as for the depiction of the sisterly bond. I was moved, many times. And this without it being sickly sentimental. The ending didn’t bother me. I don’t really like everything being spelt out to me. The reader can make a decision which is either, she lived or else how could the book have been written? Or she died, and it’s being written by an angel. The book was about the journey, the relationships, the insights more than about the resolution. The suspense was convincing too. I kept wondering about this weakness she felt? I,like being surprised and yes, even manipulated. Too often, novels are so predictable that never mind being upset about the ending, I don’t even care.

  9. […] endings, particularly to ask Rosamund Lupton about what happened to Beatrice at the end of Sister; and lots of questions for my favourite authors about how autobiographical my favourite works are: […]

  10. […] as a Kindle for a week’s holiday. First off the blocks: Rosamund Lupton’s next novel (I loved Sister despite its appalling lack of resolution), Afterwards. Share this:EmailTwitterStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This […]

  11. […] Lupton’s latest (I loved Sister but had issues with the resolution), Grace Covey wakes up in hospital disassociated from her body. As she revisits her memories of how […]

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