Sister is an astounding accomplishment as a debut novel and is well worth reading. I was absorbed by Rosamund Lupton’s story of the truths we keep from our families and their desperate search for those truths once we leave them behind.
The bleak snowscape of the cover is fitting for the setting of the story, but on a deeper level it is indicative of the things before us that can remain hidden and the coldness of a search for answers. The young woman walking away from us into the wintry scene brings a splash of bright colour to the image with her read jacket. That vibrant red instinctively makes us think of blood and the chilling possibilities of what may have happened to Tess. My compliments to the design team at Piatkus for an effective cover design.
Sister is told simultaneously in the form of a letter from Beatrice to Tess and in Beatrice’s statement of events to a lawyer. Rather than being haphazard and confusing, this technique allows us to see the facts of Beatrice’s search for her sister while at the same time giving us an insight into their relationship and personalities. Lupton has managed to weave these two separate voices together to produce a coherent narrative that is thought-provoking and engaging.
Some reviewers have commented on the slower pace of Sister when compared to many thrillers. If you are looking for an action-packed thrill ride then Sister is probably not the book for you. But of you are interested in a book that will make you think and stay with you for days after you finish it, then don’t hesitate. While Sister is not your typical thriller it still fits quite comfortably into the genre, but the menace and threat is built up slowly – like an ominous shadow creeping into a bright sunny day. What I most loved about this story was that Lupton’s writing is crisp and intelligent and she has created real people in a situation that I could imagine myself into. Even now, a day after I finished the book, I find myself wondering what I would have done in Beatrice’s place. It’s this connection with the reader that I thing is especially amazing to find in a debut novel.
As Beatrice tells her story to the lawyer and her sister she undergoes a metamorphosis. Beatrice learns what is really important in her life and as her layers are stripped away the reader experiences this growth in her character firsthand. The snippets of memory shared with Tess from their childhood make the bond between them more real. And through these memories and Beatrice’s story Tess becomes as real a character as any of the others – despite the fact that we never meet her.
Sister is an accomplished debut that looks at how relationships affect us and it’s a book that will stay with you days after you finish it. I can’t wait to see what Lupton has in store for me next!