“Warning you’ll burn through this in one sitting.” That’s what the front cover of Sister Of Mine said and it wasn’t wrong.
“When is a debt ever fully paid?
Penny and Hattie are sisters in a small town, bound tight to the point of knots. They share a secret they cannot escape, even while it pulls them apart. One night, a match is lit, and Penny’s terrible husband is killed – a marriage going up in flames, and offering the potential of a new life. The sisters retreat into their family home – a house of secrets and memories – and try to live in the shadow of what they put in motion. But Penny’s husband is not the only thing they are hiding, from the outside world and from each other. Under a cloud of long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid, the bonds of sisterhood begin to crack. How long will Penny and Hattie demand the unthinkable of each other? How often will they say, “You owe me,” and when will it ever be enough?
I was hooked from the opening chapter of a woman running away from a fire. Despite the innocuous greeting of “I’m home,” you know something bad has just happened. Something that will simmer away under the surface until it comes to a head. Heat, flames, fire, all are constant themes of Sister of Mine. Reflected by the characters themselves, in their temperaments and their relationships.
I found Petrou‘s writing claustrophobic. The small town where everybody knows everyone, the house that the sisters are bound to, the sisters themselves with their complex relationship. I can understand why Penny felt a constant urge to leave. To escape from the oppressive atmosphere.
Penny and Hattie’s relationship was also extremely well written. The love/hate between them just pulsed from the pages. Both sisters were capable of doing unspeakable things to one another, yet had this bond that neither could successfully break.
As I was reading I immediately thought ‘this would make a good TV series.’ Lianne Moriaty’s Big Little Lies popped into my head and I have been singing the theme tune constantly as a result. For all it is a relatively slim book, there is a lot to digest and it certainly packs a punch. I can just imagine the conversations at work on a Monday morning discussing why Penny did this and how awful was it when Hattie did that! It would also make a good book club read – quick to read, plenty to talk about.
Did you know the Acknowledgement in a book is supposedly Petrou’s favourite part? Mine gives thanks to No Exit Press via Anne Cater’s Random Things Tours for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. Sister of Mine is definitely my favourite No Exit Press book of the year so far.