Last night I finished Poppy Adams’ 2008 book, The Sister. I desperately wanted to like this novel and parts of it were quite good. The prose itself is excellent and the plot compelling– Two 60+ sisters (Virginia and Vivien) reunite after more than 40 years apart. The elder sister coming home to live with the younger. It’s not immediately clear why they’ve been estranged, what happened to the rest of the family, or if the voice of the narrator is particularly trustworthy. The sprawling and delapidated ancestral home plays an enormous part in the narrative as does the field of lepidoptery (the collection of butterflies). But that’s where it got bogged down for me. Too much time with the butterflies. There is, of course, a relatively unexpected plot twist and that’s where I’ll leave it.
I think there would be much to discuss for a book club– especially about sisters. Here are a few of the things I’d want to explore:
What constitutes family?
why do we keep secrets?
How do families deal with their pain?
what kinds of images of women are portrayed and how do the men in their lives compare?
Is there a ‘good’ sister and a ‘bad’ sister in this book?’
What’s Michael’s role?
What is the role of religion in the book for the sisters?
Overall, a quick but quality read (meaning it’s not fluff) for when you’re in the mood for a bit of contemporary British suspense. Not a must read but could make a fabulous movie. I’d be surprised if Poppy Adams hasn’t already sold the film rights. It’s so BBC or Masterpiece Theatery.