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A Tale Of Two Sisters
"I wanted to tell her of my recent discovery. That while the heart is a small, ugly, misshapen organ, prone to spill with jealousy or rage, like any muscle it expands with use, and its capacity for love is curious and infinite."
This is the second novel I have read by Anna Maxted. I absolutely fell in love with Getting Over It and was incredibly excited about reading A Tale of Two Sisters when the publisher offered it for review.
As the title suggests this novel is the story of two sisters and their intermingled relationships. Lizbet is the eldest. She is described as plump, plain, a bit quirkly and having a mild "refined sugar addiction". She works as a writer for Ladz magazine. Lizbet is in a long term relationship with a freewheeling inventor. They live together and share one kitty. Cassie is the opposite in almost every way. She is slender, incredibly smart, admired by all and is said to be "permanently on the rag". Cassie works as a successful lawyer. She is married to a snobbish and slightly immature man who is more than a little bit puckered.
Growing up these women had a slightly awkward relationship that involved a lot of jealousy and a bit of torment. Lizbet usually did most of the tormenting although Cassie was mostly oblivious to it. Lizbet describes their childhood relationship as "that of two prisoners sharing a cell. Cassie was probably the drugs baron; I was the dodgy accountant." Now in their early-thirties they have grown accustomed to one another's quirks and are not just sisters but great friends.
Being great friends doesn't mean they tell one another everything. This lack of communication threatens to shred their relationship from the inside out. Things begin to go awry between the two sisters when Lizbet becomes pregnant -- being a mother was not at the top of her to-do list. Unbeknownst to her Cassie who has been dealing with the revelation that she was adopted since she was thirteen had been trying to feverishly start a family without luck finds out that her birth mother has died. When Lizbet has a miscarriage at eight months hurt feelings and guilty suddenly seem insurmountable.
A Tale of Two Sisters is told from the perspective of each sister. In the beginning I didn't mind the switching back and forth between sisters but when it started to get juicy it was increasingly annoying. Kind of like watching an episode on television and getting the cliff hanger at the end then not having it taken care of at the opening of the next episode. I had to fight many times not to skip one sister's story to get to the heart of the one I was finishing.
Death and the grief of loss is something both sisters deal with from different stances and ultimately brings them closer than ever. The major theme gets the reader to define their definition of family and closely examines the importance of communication within relationships and how easily it is to assume we know how someone thinks and feels when actuality we haven't a clue.
Anna Maxted has a way of tugging at the heart strings just enough to start the flow of tears but she pulls back enough so your eyes aren't too watery to continue reading. She also has a way of carving an image of daily lunacy and working it into an outward chuckle. This back and forth rhythm is reminiscent of life and is what I think makes her a good writer. Overall I found A Tale of Two Sisters to be effortless reading and like the opening quote suggests, I feel my heart has expanded having read it.
A Tale Of Two Sisters
An entertaining read including themes on family, adoption, miscarriage, divorce, death and grief.
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Thank you for stopping by to read my review of A Tale of Two Sisters. I hope you will take a moment before you go to rate this lens at the top of the page. Have you read any of Anna Maxted's novels?