Sarah Sammis's Reviews > The Three Incestuous Sisters

The Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger
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Jun 08, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: challenge, read-in-2009, pc
Read in June, 2009

When The Time Traveler's Wife left me horribly disappointed for its obvious plot and melodrama I figured I was done with Audrey Niffenegger. Then on February 25, 2008, the late Dewey posted a loving review of Niffenegger's "visual novel" The Three Incestuous Sisters. Since her post I have been coveting the book and willing to give Niffenegger the artist a second chance.

It's somewhere between a graphic novel and a picture book for adults. It has the surreal matter-of-fact approach to story telling as Neil Gaiman's books all seem to have but with out the underlying darkness. Visually I'm reminded of Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine books.

The three sisters are incestuous in how closely their lives are lived. When one sister seeks to leave their home her absence opens up a cascade of events that leads to a family tragedy. The three sisters are Clothilde, Ophile and Bettine. Bettine, the blonde is the youngest and prettiest of the family. Ophile is the eldest and has the blue hair, so dark it might as well be black. Finally there is the middle sister, a red head named Clothilde.

Things start to go awry when the old lighthouse keeper dies and his son takes over. Paris, the son with a name that brings to mind epic wars, comes to the lighthouse and is soon dividing a wedge between the sisters. Ultimately he and Bettine leave the sisters' home. She is pregnant and they move to the city to raise their child.

The pregnancy further divides the family. One aunt to be has a spiritual connection with her nephew and the other is filled with jealously. As with The Time Traveler's Wife the pregnancy doesn't go well, though the tragedy this time is man made.

I enjoyed The Three Incestuous Sisters and want to read her other "visual novel" The Adventuress. She also has a new novel out called Her Fearful Symmetry but I'm reluctant to try it.
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message 1: by Ruth (new)

Ruth I've just finished The Time Traveler's Wife and it's going to be a long while before I try another Niffenegger novel. But thanks for your well written review. Appreciate it.





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