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The Alphabet Sisters
by Monica McInerney

Category: Fiction / General
432 pages; ISBN: 034547953X

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Alphabet Sisters
Monica McInerney
Ballantine, May 2005, $13.95, 432 pp.
ISBN: 034547953X

When they were children growing up together in Clare Valley, Australia, they sang as a trio dressed in identical garb called THE ALPHABET SISTERS, but being best friends also ended three years ago. The youngest Carrie and the fiancé of the middle Bett announced they were in love and were going to be married. The threesome has not talked to one another since. The oldest Anna hides behind the needs of her spouse and four year old daughter in Sydney; Bett fled to London where she writes music promos; Carrie married Matt, but stayed in her hometown.

Grandmother Lola, who lovingly raised the girls, wants her granddaughters reconciled. She invites them to come home to celebrate her eightieth birthday knowing she is the only person that each of THE ALPHABET SISTERS would show up for. However, each sibling arrives with emotional baggage. Anna’s husband is having an affair while their daughter remains scarred from a canine attack; Bett detests living alone; Carrie and Matt have separated. Lola masterly manipulates her granddaughters to perform together a musical she wrote to encourage the reconciliation the trio wants for they miss one another, none will risk that critical first step.

This is a terrific relationship tale that avoids turning into a tear jerker until a late twist involving cancer is used as a possible reconciliatory catalyst. The story line is at its best when it concentrates on the three sisters especially their desires and darkest secrets; by extension through the trio, readers obtains somewhat of a glimpse of their extended families. Though that final spin makes it too easy to choose and seems so unnecessary, readers will take immense pleasure with this deep Australian family drama.

Harriet Klausner


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