Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review: The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin

I jumped at this book because of the title. I know some people don't like Hemingway. But I fell in love with his The Old Man and the Sea when I first read it in school (junior high? high school?). And I have been fascinated by his complicated, ultimately tragic life ever since. So I might have felt a small stab of disappointment that there's nothing really Hemingway about the book other than the nod to Hemingway's multiple wives in the names of the main characters. But I got over the disappointment as I sank into the story of this messy family, the dysfunction amongst the adult sisters, the tragedy that set them on their respective paths, and the secrets, long buried and of newer province both, that were uncovered in the course of Annie England Noblin's newest novel.

Hadley, Pfeiffer, and Martha have all come home to the tiny Missouri Ozark town that they grew up in for the first time in years. They're back for the funeral of their Aunt Bea, the great aunt who stepped into their lives when their mother and youngest sister died in a tornado. Their father having died young of cancer, the sisters' lives were full of tragedy and sorrow. As each grew up in turn, they all moved away from town, never going back to visit, as much their own choice as because Aunt Bea, who hadn't spoken a word since her own girlhood flight from the town, didn't want them to come back. But each of them returns to pay tribute to the woman who stepped up for them and returned to the town she had left so long ago without a second thought. And each of the estranged sisters comes home bearing secrets and baggage she's keeping from her sisters.

Oldest sister Hadley is polished and poised, married to a Senator. She's incredibly worried about appearances, an uptight, unhappy cold fish but she's hiding the fact that her less than happy marriage has been over for a long time. Pfeiffer had gone to New York to be a writer but ended up as a successful senior editor, certain of her taste and opinions until she passed on the biggest, most successful book to come out in years, doing so in spectacular fashion and ending up by getting herself fired, something she's not willing to share with her sisters just yet. And Martha, the youngest, shot to fame as a country singer in Nashville, marrying another huge star who took credit for her songwriting. When her marriage failed, assuming she'd be nothing without her talented husband her label dropped her, and she sank into alcoholism. Now she's just out of rehab and trying to rediscover herself. Each of the sisters is at rock bottom and it will only be by relying on each other and old friends who have always cared about them to find a second chance, especially when Aunt Bea's journal surfaces and a secret far older than the sisters is uncovered in their own front yard.

The novel rotates among the sisters' perspectives so the reader knows each of the womens' secrets long before her sisters do. This style of narration highlights each sister's frustrations, fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities very clearly and shows the slow building of trust as the sisters learn to rely on each other and to address the truth and tragedy of their shared past. The resolutions for the sisters are appropriate after all of the healing they faced together and although several of the plot lines, including the reveal surrounding the decades old family secret, are fairly predictable, this is still a likable story of family, resilience, and second chances. Fans of women's fiction and sister stories will gulp this down in no time at all.

For more information about Annie England Noblin and the book, like the author on Facebook or follow her on Twitter or Instagram. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. I am such a fan of messy, complicated family relationships so I'm all in on this one! Thanks for being on the tour!

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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