A Letter to her Sister

Hyde Park by Stella Leivadi @treknature.com

After the slow meander through Nancy Goldstone’s ‘The Maid and the Queen’, I reached for this library book because I was sure it would have pace and I am long overdue reading it, considering I gave it to my sister for Christmas two years ago.

Rosamund’s Lupton’s ‘Sister’ is set in London, from Notting Hill to Hyde Park, in a police station and St Anne’s Hospital.

It is Beatrice’s book long letter to her missing sister Tess, in which she narrates everything that took place from the moment she heard of her sister’s disappearance until now, when she will recount the entire episode as a kind of tribute to her sister. Telling a story in this way, as Ruby Soames does in her excellentSeven Days to Tell You’ makes the reading of it more intimate, there’s less use of the I and they and more than usual of the you and your. It’s almost a conversation, only the narrator speaks and you listen.

Beatrice has been living in New York and the disappearance of her sister brings her back to London and provides some distance and perspective on her own life, which will change forever as she attempts to uncover what really happened to her sister, refusing to accept the conclusions of the police and the easy acceptance of their verdict by her mother and fiancé.

As I put down the phone I saw Todd looking at me. ‘What exactly are you hoping to achieve here?’  And in the words ‘exactly’ and ‘here’ I heard the pettiness of our relationship.  We had been united by superficial tendrils of the small and the mundane, but the enormous fact of your death was ripping each fragile connection.

It being something of a mystery, I do try to second guess not just the culprit but also the twist, there always is one isn’t there? I often look for the character that is barely mentioned and I was aware that this particular narrative perspective can be the perfect conduit for the unreliable narrator. However, in this case, I neither predicted the culprit nor saw the twist right until it occurred, leaving me in admiration of Lupton’s ability to outwit and pleasantly surprise her readers.

I look forward to reading her second novel ‘Afterwards’.

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14 thoughts on “A Letter to her Sister

    • Thanks for the link Jen, a few people have said that about ‘Afterwards’ and then another friend said the opposite – that’s the great thing about books, you just have to read it for yourself to find out!

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  1. Another good review, leaving me knowing if I ever need a book to read, this is the space to return to to choose a selection.

    I don’t read a lot of reviews, but yours are a must read.

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    • You are such a loyal follower Nelle, I wish we were neighbours, I’d be sending them all down the road to you – but I am comforted by the fact that while not consuming too many books you are at least writing, thank you for allowing me to distract you momentarily. 🙂

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      • Thanks… when I was at the camp, over 21 months, I read 175 books, while writing on paper (952 pages and I write small! 9 stories, 5 or 6 which I intend to transcribe and edit as novels. The first nears completion of editing.)

        I still read, not as much, and work off my unread stash here. Your posts constantly leave me wishing, rofl.

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  2. I read this a few months ago Claire and if I’m honest I deliberately read it straight after finishing Orhan Pamuk’s ‘The Museum Of Innocence’. I think he’s a genius and loved that book so I was wary of what I’d read next because I thought it would be difficult to follow Pamuk. So I picked ‘Sister’ cos I thought it would be light and easy – a throwaway I guess. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I really did enjoy it and thought it was both well written and well-plotted – and like you I was miles off in my guess about the culprit!

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    • Oh, ‘The Museum of Innocence’, that was more than a book, that was like a living obsession, I felt like I lived that book, not read it, it wasn’t observing something, it was feeling it again and again and again. I love his work too and am glad I started with what I found the most difficult ‘My Name is Red’, everything I have read is so different and so eye opening, he makes me want to go and hang out for a bit in Istanbul (even if it is difficult for him).

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      • I’m delighted to have found someone else who likes Pamuk. I think you capture the feeling of reading “Museum Of Innocence” perfectly – as I read it I felt I lived his obsession with him. I also started with ‘My Name Is Red’ – I loved it and have loved everything in between!

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  3. I am soooo ready to read a good book, I started Hunger Games,just to see what all the fuss was about. Just not my cup of tea, couldn’t force myself anymore beyond around page 40. I need a lot more heft to my reading. I just ordered Barbara Pym’s “Quartet in Autumn,” hope that satisfies. This sounds like a good one, and thanks to Col, I shall check out Ohan Pamuk.

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    • How serendipitous – the author M.L.Longworth who wrote the book I am currently reading was asked by her bookgroup who her favourite authors were and she mentioned Barbara Pym (who I had not heard of) and recommended we read ‘Excellent Women’ to start, she described her as one of those authors whose every book you want to read.

      Pamuk is great – never the same, I’ve read three of his books the difficult, the excellent and the great (Red, Snow and Innocence) and have ‘Istanbul’ on the shelf which could just be the ultimate Pamuk.

      Hunger Games isn’t on the shelf…

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    • It’s definitely fiction. If you want non-fiction with twists and turns that reads like fiction Kate Summerscale is one to look out for, I have her new book ‘Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace’ which is about to be published and sounds as fascinating as her first book ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’, also nonfiction and based on a true story.

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