Sister is a strangely beautiful prose account of a woman obsessed with her husband’s first wife. The writing is splendid and draws you in and then pushes you away and pulls you back again, and it is fascinating to see how Tuck’s use of words and quotations and allusion exposes the character of the second wife and what she believes she knows about the first wife, but ultimately, when I finished the 160-something page book, I felt unsatisfied.
This book purports to be a novel, but it lacks some of the crucial narrative elements of a novel. There is a story ,and conflict, and characters, but the real action of the “novel” comes in the last few pages, and I can’t say it gave me a fulfilling resolution. I liked how little we truly learned about the character of our narrator, because I learned so much about her by what she learned about the first wife, her husband, and her two step-children, but how was I supposed to handle that ending? How much time does this novel span? I need answers!
Speaking of the step-children, her interactions with the son and daughter of her husband were fascinating and some of my favorite moments. I wish the book had been longer and allowed us to explore that so that we could truly appreciate the ending, but alas.
If you have an hour or so to spare and want to read some beautiful words and not spend too much time lost in a novel, check out Sisters by Lily Tuck. It’s a “riveting psychological portrait of marriage, infidelity, and obsession; charting with elegance and insight love in all its phases” according to the blurb provided by the publisher, and I don’t disagree, even if I wanted more out of the story.