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The Ugly Sister

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,532 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Jane Fallon, bestselling author of Getting Rid of Matthew, returns with The Ugly Sister.

When it comes to genes life's a lottery . . .

As Abi would the first to know. She has spent her life in the shadow of her stunningly beautiful, glamorous older sister Cleo.

Headhunted as model when she was sixteen, Cleo has been all but lost to Abi for the last twenty years, with only a f
Paperback, 439 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,532 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon is an examination on how and to what extent a person's looks can affect them and those around them. I appreciated the message contained within the pages (that beauty is only skin deep and true beauty comes from within), but felt that Fallon rather over-emphasised the matter over the course of the novel.

Due to the message she was conveying, it was hard to like a number of the characters within the pages. I'm used to more character growth in my chick lit novels, wher
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Having liked Fallon's other books, I assumed that this one would be no different, even though the blurb on the back didn't inspire me greatly.
But in fact, I found it a chore to read and almost gave up twice. The only thing that kept me going was the big pay off at the end which was sure to happen; where the self absorbed older sister got her come-uppance. Except that it never happened. By the end of the book, nothing had changed. The younger, spineless sister was still so. So ultimately, this is
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Jane Fallon is an author I’ve enjoyed before. I remember picking up Getting Rid of Matthew a few years back now and I really enjoyed the fresh take on affairs, how Helen was trying to get rid of Matthew, the man she was having an affair with rather than trying to take him from his wife. I then read Got You Back which was even better, I really loved that one. I somehow skipped Foursome, though I have it on my shelf, and so when I got a proof copy of The Ugly Sister I dove right in, hoping for som ...more
Helena Wildsmith
Apr 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I have always greatly enjoyed Jane Fallon's books and this one was no different. Well written, sweet and funny, I found it difficult to put down and desperately wanted to know how it would end. This leads me to why I only gave it 3 stars - the ambiguous ending! I find these really irritating and like the author has just given up and can't decide how to end the story. Such a shame as I really loved the rest of the book but this just totally let it down.
Oct 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kindle, family
I absolutely hated this book. I only kept reading it because I've enjoyed other books by Fallon in the past. I wish I had stopped reading halfway through, when it was apparent to me where things were going. I just...ugh, I can't even really think of anything nice to say about it so I just won't say anything more. This book was a waste of time, and I wanted to punch the main character in the face repeatedly.

Ok, I will say this. I'm all for cutting toxic people out of your life. And I know from p
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
When part time librarian, single mother of one, "I've never felt attractive", Abi, finds herself homeless due to conflicting settlement dates (oops!), she is invited to spend the summer with her elder sister, Cleo (formerly Caroline before her supermodel career). Abi is anxious about spending the time with her sister, who she naturally hasn't gotten along with her since Cleo's big break, but eager to try to reconnect. She comes to discover Cleo is exactly as self involved as she remembers, Cleo' ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book and I had a bit of a history before I actually started reading it. I noticed the cover in Asda and read the blurb, found it interesting but not enough for me to buy it. I noticed it again, several times, in Waterstones, on the internet, here and there until finally I thought I'm going to put my curiosity and peace and read it. I was rewarded.

I never put myself down as a person who would enjoy such contemporary fiction and women's fiction, but the characters are so wonderfully fulfillin
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Disappointed in this book because it was a long book with an impossible romance of immoral substance and the main character, Abi is very boring. I was disappointed in her not speaking up and over thinking. For being suppositly the smart sister she couldn't over think the manipulating narcissistic sister. Several times I looked away in disgust on why I would continue reading. Even the still boring.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, hab-readers
This was an emergency book club read...what we are going to discuss is somewhat of a joke! The Guardian describes it as Chick Lit with an edge! and irresistibly dark! It couldn`t have been more light if you had floodlit it! and I don`t know where the edge went. I thought the Guardian was more reliable than that. In a word it was alright. A predictable story written very simplistically. Amusing at times. ...more
Claire Collignon
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
DNF, which is very rare for me, especially with an author whose books I often like very much. But not this one. Boring, predictable and too black and white re the characters.
Apr 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is a simple tale of sibling rivalry. Take two sisters: Caroline, tall, skinny and beautiful becomes supermodel Cleo at 16, and the younger Abigail, plain, slightly dumpy but clever, constantly over-shadowed by Cleo, goes off to university, and becomes a single mum working part time in a library.

Move the action forward 20 years and Cleo invites Abi to spend the summer with her and her family, apparently in order to rekindle their sisterly relationship. Cleo lives in posh Primrose Hill with p
Kerri Turner
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
I am a big fan of Jane Fallon's three previous books, and as such was really excited to read this one (so much so that I gave myself papercuts when snatching it excitedly off my husband who spotted it). Sadly, though, it falls short of her other books.

As with the first three, it is still a fun, fast-paced chick-lit read with engaging characters and challenging situations. However, the writing style is not only in the present tense (which can be awkward to read if not dealt with correctly), but a
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I hate Cleo! I love Abi and Jon and Richard- I wish I had a best friend like Richard, minus a few aspects of him.
Really loved this book: it was funny at times but balanced enough with family drama to make you feel able to relate to the character's in the novel. It revolves around two sisters: Cleo, the eldest and a washed out supermodel and Abi, a kind of wanderer with not much to show but her awesome eighteen year old daughter Pheobe. Cleo's got the perfect London lifestyle complete with a beau
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: two-star
If I had to sum up this book in one word - it would be 'frustrating.'
The author has shown her ability to create complex characters and believable scenarios throughout her earlier work. However, this novel came across as slapdash and failed to offer the reader anything new.

The characters are frustratingly cliched and rather predictable in their actions, thoughts and even down to what they say. Abi is living in her older sisters shadow (who hasn't lived in someone elses shadow at some point in the
May 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Please note - low mark partly reflects my dislike of chicklit - I should not have chosen this from the library. The plot was reasonable, although I found some of the writing repetative - she kept on reminding us how old the daughter was. I remembered it the first time thanks! Also several points were laboured again and again. I was also annoyed only a few pages in as the author has a very very negative view of librarians and libraries, and portrays a stereotype which is seriously out of date. Th ...more
Kristi Sawyer
Meh. I feel quite harsh giving this book two stars, because it is not so bad...but then there's nothing great about it either. There were hints of a cute (yet totally off-the-cards) romance, which I hoped would blossom at the end, but was really poorly handled, in my opinion! I obviously hated Cleo, as I'm sure you're meant to, but I didn't really bond with Abi either, so I found myself in a state of not really caring what happened next! I loved Jon and wanted to see him happy, but it just felt ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is the whiniest book I've ever tried to read. I hate everyone in it, the main character most of all.

The plot is so silly, with her being in love with her sisters husband, ooooh SO WRONG, WHAT TO DO! And the male friend that she of course has no interest in at all, but I am betting my cat that she will fall for him in the end.

The perspective is all strange. You don't feel close to Abi at all, she is just this whiny, boring woman, not a chick lit heroine in any way.

Am not sure I will finis
Oct 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is the kind of book that gives chick-lit a bad name. The usual drippy protagonist who has no self-confidence. The narration was weird, sometimes the reader is addressed directly, and sometimes the tense changes, making it confusing and a little bit disjointing. The ending was also odd, seeming to cut off in the middle of a scene.

I had been looking forward to reading Fallon's other novels but after this, I don't think I can bring myself to pick another one up.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Gobbling up paper books lately, especially since my e-reader app has mysteriously broken. Need to get to the library.

This was darker-than-normal chick-lit fluff. Enjoyable, easy to read, middle of the road. My biggest problem was that I couldn't identify fully with the protagonist, nor understand her decisions or whinging. Also had difficulty with the unresolved, too-sudden ending.

Ready to get back to the 19th century I think.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I really enjoyed this book, right to the last few pages... and then what a disappointing ending! It left too many loose ends in my opinion. It didn't live up to Jane Fallon's previous novels unfortunately.
Chelsea Dulieu
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Well by golly hasn't the world just presented us with unlimited reading time (have to look on the bright side don't you). Grab yourselves a pile of books and strap in for a wild ride! I, for one, am predicting an extremely good result on my Goodreads challenge this year.

So... On to The Ugly Sister. A bit torn on this one I have to say. LOVED the characters, not so fussed on the story. Or maybe just how the story was told. I can't quite put my finger on it.

The Ugly Sister is definitely a story
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2020
Abigail's sister Catherine became 'Cleo', an internationally famous model, after being spotted in her teens and Abi was left never feeling like she could do anything that would make her parents as proud as Cleo did.

With a grown up daughter going for her gap year, Abi takes up Cleo's invitation when she invites Abi to stay in her London house with her 2 girls and husband for 8 weeks over summer. Abi sees a chance to reconnect with her sister after years of barely seeing each other and only fleeti
Carolyn Taylor
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-books-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story looks at the labels siblings are given in childhood and the effect they have on each sibling through to adulthood.
Cleo and Abi were pretty much normal sisters until Cleo got discovered and shot to fame. The story takes place many years later when Cleo invites Abi to spend the summer with her family in London. Is this the reconciliation Abi has secretly been longing for or has Cleo got ulterior motives?
An easy read exploring this sort of sibling rivalry. We get to know each member of t
Vicki Turner
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I should have known that any book lavishly praised by the Daily Mail is unlikely to be something I would enjoy. That certainly proved to be the case. The plot just about carries the reader along, and I hoped I would get caught up in the story but that never happened. The characters are at best mildly interesting, though so paper thin as to be transparent. Jane Fallon occasionally makes acute observations about human behaviour and the nature of sibling relationships, but these are scarce. Her por ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Actual star rating 2.5. I absolutely adore Jane Fallon's work normally, but my god what was this!?! Yes, the characters were intriguing and Abi, the main character was lovable....but where was the character development and the story development!? Why was there such an ambiguous ending!? I didn't realise the ending was the end...there's so many's left so open. The young girls were the main stars of the show I feel, and that's only because their character developed and changed with ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have now read all of Jane Fallon’s books, and this one was by far the best one she’s written.The story grabbed my attention straight away, and it was hard to put the book down every night to go to sleep. Those are the best books, in my opinion! It’s about a woman, Abi, who is starting to enter mid-life and is suddenly an empty-nester. She’s sold her home, and can’t take possession of the flat she purchased until the end of summer, so she goes to spend the summer with her older sister Caroline ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, chick-lit
Abi is at a loose end. Her daughter has gone off for a gap year and she is waiting to move into a new (smaller) flat and then her estranged sister gets in touch asking if she wants to visit. What she didn't realise was that she'd become an unpaid childminder for a few months. What she also didn't realise was that she'd come to love her nieces, fall for her brother in law and after a heart to heart, realise her sister is still a self-obsessed model ... and start on her own career path (at long la ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I've just read Getting rid of Matthew which I thought was hilarious, so I continued with another Jane Fallon book - the Ugly Sister. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed. There were no laugh out loud moments and the first half was a little boring and dragged a little. The story perked up a little once the relationships started happening and I thought I was going to really enjoy the second half, but I was a bit disappointed with the ending which was left quite open and I didn't really feel l ...more
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Jane Fallon is an English producer and novelist, most famous for her work on popular series Teachers, 20 Things To Do Before You're 30, Eastenders and This Life. She has also written two successful novels.

Fallon has been in a relationship with popular comedian Ricky Gervais since 1982, after they met while studying together at the University College London. The couple has lived together since 1984

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