Cynthia's Reviews > The Sisters

The Sisters by Nancy Jensen
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's review
Dec 12, 11

bookshelves: books-read-in-2011
Read from November 20 to 21, 2011

"Sisters" begins with a tragic misunderstanding between two sisters living in 1920's Kentucky. In fact misunderstandings come one after the other in this generational saga, through the next few generations of mothers and sisters tragedies pile up one upon the other due to secrets. So much deliberate lying make the story seem unbelievable. Worst of all there never seems to be a point to the mishaps. The three sets of sisters trail through seven decades with the action jumping back and forth in time and place. Thank goodness someone thought to put a family tree at the front of the book or it would have been even more difficult to keep the players straight. And that's the great failing of the book in my opinion, the characters felt like fiction, their situations too farfetched to be relatable. Probalby Jensen is trying to show how difficult it can be to tell the truth when you know it can hurt someone?

The back blurb compares Jensen's "The Sisters" to Marilynne Robinosn's "Housekeeping" and Elizabeth Strout's "Olive Kitteridge". I love both those books. It's what excited me to read Jensen's book. I know that kind of thing sells books but ultimately such touting is a disservice to new writers. It makes readers expect too much. This is in no way to say Jensen is a bad writer because that's not the case. She just shouldn't (at least, yet) be compared to such writers. With all the jumping around in time and from character to character, added to the plot devices that seemed generated to eke out emotion rather than convey truth I felt let down. There is promise in this book and I'll be watching to see what Jensen writes next.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Great review, C. I loved those other 2 books as well, so I can understand your disappointment.

message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol very interesting review...

message 3: by Mary Ronan (new)

Mary Ronan Drew You make a good point, Cynthia, about touting a book so highly that people will inevitably be disappointed. On the other hand, it's hard to get people to read books by new authors and you have to get them interested somehow.

Often a comparison (Dorothy Parker meets Louisa May Alcott! or whatever) is apt and then it's a treat to find the things in the book the blurb writer was talking about. But when you don't find them it enhances your disappointment with the book.

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