Having read Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-In-Law last year and loved it, I had high expectations for this book. It didn’t quite wow me as much as the earlier read but I enjoyed the complicated bond between two sisters, one with a a psychological disorder that impacts not just how the siblings interact but how they engage in the world. The story moves between following the two characters, using one’s diary entries interspersed with a first person narrative to show the different lives and perspectives.
Fern and Rose are adult twins who have learned to care for each other after losing both parents at a young age. One of the women has a social disorder and her sister has always helped her navigate through the world so it seems natural to do everything to repay “that good sister” when the opportunity arises. Alongside the unnatural codependence, Hepworth introduces romance and marital issues, along with flashbacks to childhood scenes and contrived memories that may paint one or the other sister in a bad light. This did introduce a bit of a troublesome subplot which neither resolution seemed to justify satisfactorily.
I enjoyed the bookish inclusions, especially the library setting and the positive images associated with the myriad of literary references. The honesty and simplicity of the romantic relationship contrasts perfectly with the dysfunctional family dynamics and provided the perfect structure for the character development. I am still not sure how to feel about how many personality issues were included as plot devices and I didn’t love where the book goes in order to reveal the duplicity. However, while the twists that Hepworth achieved were not completely shocking, they were still poignant to experience and The Good Sister was a truly entertaining read from start to finish.
Fans of Graeme Samson’s Rosie series and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will enjoy reading this one.
Note: I received a complimentary eARC of The Good Sister from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley in order to complete this review.