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Sister: A Novel Paperback – December 20, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030771652X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307716521
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (444 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: When the body of Beatrice’s beloved younger sister, Tess, is discovered in an abandoned building in Hyde Park and ruled a suicide, Beatrice knows the police have made a mistake. She’s certain her sister was murdered. Determined to uncover the truth, Beatrice impulsively begins to hunt for clues on her own. So begins Rosamund Lupton’s stunning debut, Sister, at once an engrossing thriller and a powerful meditation on the bonds of family. Writing her story as a letter to Tess, Beatrice gradually connects the strange, varied occurrences leading up to Tess’s death--Tess’s pregnancy; a trial drug from a pharmaceutical company; a man who may or may not have been a figment of Tess’s imagination. Beatrice’s former life falls apart as her search veers toward obsession, and she realizes she might pay a terrible price for the truth. An adrenaline-filled psychological thriller, Sister’s emotional impact comes from Lupton’s heartrending portrait of the love between Beatrice and Tess. --Lynette Mong
Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Rosamund Lupton

We had the opportunity to chat with bestselling author Rosamund Lupton about her debut novel (and one of our Best Books of June 2011), Sister, via e-mail. Read on to see what Rosamund had to say about London, sisterhood, her next novel, and more:

Amazon.com: Before writing Sister, you worked for many years as a screenwriter. How does the process of writing a novel differ from writing for television?

Rosamund Lupton: When I was writing screenplays I was just one part of a creative process, it would take the talents of many other people to bring the screenplay to life. With a novel, you know what you type is the finished thing--there’s just me--and that feels both daunting and liberating. As a screenwriter I was often ticked off for "directing from the page" or "writing a novel not a script!" Now, I love being able to use as many words as I like to tell the story--a hundred thousand in the case of Sister--and being able to write the interior life of a character as well as their surface interactions.

Amazon.com: I love the way London almost becomes a character unto itself in this story. The city seems to mimic Beatrice’s emotional state while she searches for clues about Tess’s death. Why did you select London as the setting? Did you spend time exploring the places Beatrice visits?

Rosamund Lupton: I chose London as I know it so well, I’ve lived here for many years, and because, as you say, it possesses a chameleon quality to show a state of mind. For example, Hyde Park in the depth of winter is covered in snow and silent, with leafless trees and is so different from a bright Spring day when the trees and grass are green and there’s children paddling in the fountain. I’m not surprised its been used so often for films; it has a cinematic quality and at the beginning of the book it’s like a black and white film set to me. I already knew all the places Beatrice visits as they are close to where I lived for many years, or worked, so the city is like an old friend.

Amazon.com: Sister is written as a letter from Beatrice to Tess. Why did you choose to structure the novel this way?

Rosamund Lupton: At one point, Beatrice says to Tess, "it’s a one way conversation, but one I could only have with you." I felt that writing it this way continually demonstrates their intimacy. Also, as a former scriptwriter, I found it easier to tell the story as one character speaking to another; as if it’s one half of a dialogue.

Amazon.com: Did your relationship with your own sister impact how you crafted the relationship between Beatrice and Tess?

Rosamund Lupton: I know as an older sister how protective and responsible I’ve always felt towards my sister and I posed the question, what would you do if your sister went missing? I knew that Beatrice in the book would drop everything and get the first flight to find Tess--as I think almost any sister would do. Although Beatrice and Tess are very different from my sister and myself, the emotional truth of their relationship is one I know well. Like my sister and I, the closeness between them is made up of a million tiny details rather than simply the "big things." Some small details are drawn directly from my own life. For example, my sister and I wrote to each other at boarding school, and used jigsaw letters and ones with invisible ink.

Amazon.com: Can you tell us anything about your next novel?

Rosamund Lupton: It begins with a mother running into a burning school to rescue her teenage daughter. The book continues to be about how far a woman will go to protect her family. It’s ultimately about love not recognizing any boundaries.

Amazon.com: Sister is bound to be on a lot of summer reading lists. What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

Rosamund Lupton: I have a big pile of books that are looking so enticing, I can’t wait to have time to read them! At the top are Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Sarah Winman’s When God Was a Rabbit.


--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. British author Lupton's unusual and searing debut is her heroine Beatrice Hemming's letter to her dead younger sister, Tess. Abandoned by their father just before their eight-year-old brother's death from cystic fibrosis and raised by their genteelly ineffectual mother, Bee and Tess have always exchanged long, intimate letters, so when Tess, an unmarried London art student, apparently commits suicide after her CF baby is born dead, Bee resigns her corporate design job in New York City and moves into Tess's shabby London flat. Convinced Tess was murdered, Bee gradually learns Tess had been spurned, like her unborn child, by her married art teacher lover; she had also been eerily pursued by a drugged-up slumming fellow student and mentally tortured by hallucinogenic drugs thrust on her by a masked stalker. Bee's self-defenses crumble as she discovers that she never returned Tess's anguished calls for help. Observing the unsettling similarities between her mother and her fiancé, Bee realizes "why no one could be my safety rope." At the harrowing conclusion, Bee's aching heart accepts that "grief is love turned into an eternal missing." (June) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Rosamund Lupton was born in England and went to Cambridge university. She was a screenwriter for many years before writing her first novel - 'Sister' - which has received widespread critical acclaim, including the New York Times Editor's choice and being broadcast on Radio 4's 'Book At Bedtime'. It is a best seller in Europe, a Sunday Times best seller and a New York Times best seller. Her second novel, Afterwards, was published in the USA in April 2012. It is an Amazon editor's choice for April and has had wide-spread praise. In the Uk it was Amazon's No. 2 in all fiction for 2011, and No. 2 Sunday Times fiction best-seller of 2011.


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

222 of 233 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
With a really good thriller novel, sometimes it's not so much the story as the way you tell it that gives it the credibility it needs. In Rosamund Lupton's Sister, the unexpected death of a young 21 year-old woman, Tess, initially promises an interesting but perhaps not exceptional case where her sister attempts to piece together the dead woman's actions and contemplate her state of mind in the days before her death - was it suicide or murder? What makes Sister fascinating reading however is the decision of the author to tell the story not only from the perspective of the dead woman's sister Beatrice, but to do so in the form of an open letter to Tess.

There are several benefits to this approach. On the one hand, it fully captures the sense of helplessness and loss that Beatrice feels. Having been separated by an ocean, Beatrice returns to London from her New York home to try to come to terms with what has happened and piece together what could have happened through her knowledge of her younger sister, relating those thoughts directly to Tess, but also to the prosecuting lawyer in preparation for a trial. This creates a fractured kind of narrative that gives some indication of what is going on in her mind, as well interweaving past and present and lending the intriguing suggestion that, with a court case pending, there is a lot more to uncover.

More than that, it lends immediacy to the writing that also brings you closer to Tess, as you come to understand her relationship with her sister and family, events from the past coming to mind that shed light on her character - small but significant events that lead Beatrice to conclude that she couldn't possibly have taken her own life. But how can she convince everyone else that this is the case?
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Elvisettey VINE VOICE on May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a difficult novel to read, what a difficult novel to review. And I mean that as high praise for a work that is decidedly difficult to categorize.

Beatrice's younger sister, art-student Tess, has either committed suicide (official version) or been murdered (Beatrice's version) after giving birth to a stillborn child, who received a cutting-edge cystic fibrosis cure in utero. Bee flies home to England from New York, where she has been living, to cope with the aftermath of her sister's death. The story is a first-person narrative, delivered as if Bee is speaking across the space of death to her sister: apologizing, holding key facts back, rationalizing, explaining her own behavior, compensating-- in short, running through every human emotion and action that accompanies a severe shock and an immense grief. Bee's own process of self-discovery ties into her investigative process of the truth about her sister's death brilliantly: in finding the truth about her sister, Bee finds the truth about herself. Tess leads Bee to her own person through a twisting, winding path, and the journey is complex and wonderful.

As Bee breaks down everything that we supposedly know about her sister and everything she thought she knew about herself, she starts to build up new connections that she never would have thought possible: in the wake of death, Lupton shows us how we can rebuild life. Mothers, fathers, new friends, neighbors: all emerge as solidly-drawn portraits of the new people (or newly-realized) people in Bee's life, each with his or her own distinct personality, style of interaction, and way of dealing with death.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful By K.Wagner VINE VOICE on May 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Beatrice has moved to America from England. She has become
used to the distance both geographically, and emotionally,
from her sister Tess and their mother. She uses it as an excuse,
in fact. After all, she is busy with her career and her own life.
A phone call from her mother calls her back across the Atlantic
when she learns that Tess is missing. Tess, who was pregnant, and
struggling, has not been seen for far too long.

It would be unfair to suggest that it was only guilt that sent
Beatrice to the airport, because she did love her family, when
it wasn't too inconvenient. So, leaving life, career and fiance
behind, she arrived in England as soon as was humanly possible
after she received the call.

Before long, Bea realizes what she has been missing, while letting
her family get on without her all of this time. All of the love and
closeness to Tess comes flooding back. With it there is fear. She truly
did love Tess, and when she found her sister's body, could not believe the
verdict of suicide due to psychosis after after the death of her baby. Tess
would never kill herself, Bea was sure. Even after finding the body, and learning
that the baby Xavier had died, Bea felt something was being missed, and so she
set out to find the truth on her own.

What follows is a griping story, one that has you sure that you have
come to the end of the mystery, only to find that there is yet another twist.
By the time this breathtaking story concludes, you will be breathless with the
build up and the climax.

Don't miss this one.
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