Rose Feller is a plain, plump yet successful lawyer living in a luxury apartment and a closet full of expensive shoes. She has everything, except a man to tell her she's beautiful.
Maggie Feller is an irresponsible party girl who dreams of becoming a star. She's thin and beautiful, but secretly unhappy. Anytime Maggie is in trouble, her sister Rose is always there to rescue her.
Ella is the long lost grandmother, consumed with guilt and grief over her daughter's death. She follows the mundane rituals of retirement home life, convincing herself this is what she wants. However, a wise-cracking friend and a new man helps her to feel once again.
When Rose finally scores the man she lusts for at her firm, Maggie is yet again in need of help. Rose agrees to let Maggie stay with her with disasterous results, as each sister's jealousy of the other threatens to tear them apart. When Maggie finally crosses the line by sleeping with Rose's lover, Rose throws her out, literally and emotionally. From this point, both sisters go on life-changing journeys as they struggle to make peace with themselves and each other.
Rose, heartbroken, quits her job and begins an unexpected new career that leads her to a new love, an appreciation of the outdoors and a confidence she never had before. Yet she struggles with painful memories of her mother's death, an evil stepmother and an embarrassing childhood.
Maggie, sick with regret, decides to blend in at Princeton until she can get on her feet. She isn't without her own painful memories: the discovery of a learning disorder that would transform her from the most popular girl in elementary school to the outcast by junior high. Deserted by her friends and taken advantage of by the boys, Maggie relies on her looks as she believes she has no brains. However, during her stay in Princeton, Maggie discovers she is smarter than she gave herself credit for. Unfortunately, her luck runs out and she is forced to flee. Her instinct is to have Rose bail her out but she remembers some old birthday cards from her grandmother she swiped from her stepmother's house months earlier. It's not a warm reunion but as Maggie gets to know the residents, she finally discovers she has a talent. Ella encourages Maggie to follow this talent, and helps her to start a business. For the first time, Maggie is learning responsibility.
Ella is determined to know both of her granddaughters and contacts Rose. When the sisters come face-to-face, each is stunned by the other's transformation. Together, they learn to forgive themselves and each other.
I think this is a well-written book that gives the characters so much depth, you feel as if they are real. The point of view shifts between the three main characters, giving the reader plenty of insight into their minds. The story of plain fat sister vs. thin pretty sister may be cliche, but Weiner does such a fine job that it's hardly noticeable. Even Maggie's faking being in college seems plausible with Weiner's gifted writing. An excellent book about loss, love and forgiveness.