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The Alphabet Sisters: A Novel Paperback – May 17, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Thus. edition (May 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034547953X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345479532
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McInerney's buoyant new novel chronicles the three Quinlan sisters' efforts to reconcile their combative past and reconnect when their grandmother, Lola, summons them home to South Australia for her 80th birthday party. Under the guardianship of Lola ("etiquette teacher, boot-camp mistress, and musical director"), Anna, Bett and Carrie had celebrated their youth on stage as the pop singing group the Alphabet Sisters. As adults, they stop speaking to each other when Carrie runs off with Bett's fiancé, Matthew. But after three years of silence, they heed Lola's call and resolve to make their peace. Anna, a voiceover actress and the eldest of the three, arrives from Sydney with her seven-year-old daughter, Ellen, who is scarred by a horrific accident, but without her absentee husband. Bett, the middle sister, flies in from London, where she does PR for a record company, while the youngest, Carrie, lives close to Lola, running a motel and suffering in her foundering marriage to Matthew. When Lola announces she's written a musical starring the Alphabet Sisters to benefit the local hospital, Anna, Bett and Carrie put aside their differences, rebuild their relationships and grow closer than ever before. In this heartening if predictable novel, three struggling women relearn how the bonds of sisterhood can steady them against life's ebb and flow.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Australian novelist McInerney's American debut centers on three estranged sisters who come home to Clare Valley, Australia, for their grandmother's eightieth birthday. Anna, Bett, and Carrie Quinlan haven't spoken in three years, since Bett's fiance jilted her for Carrie and Anna's attempts to mediate failed miserably. Their grandmother Lola still has fond memories of when the girls sang together in their youth as the Alphabet Sisters, so she devises a plot to get the girls to stay: she's written a musical she wants them to produce with the help of the denizens of Clare Valley. Though outwardly reluctant, each sister has a reason for wanting to stay. Anna's marriage to Glenn is failing, and her young daughter, Ellen, is recovering from a dog attack, from which she still bears the scars. Bett has quit her job in London and is considering a new start in Clare Valley. And Carrie's marriage to Michael might be in trouble. This warm, involving novel about the depth of the bond between sisters will likely be popular with book groups. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

You will struggle to find the truth in the sisters.
A. Hansen
If the book had been half the length (the story meanders and repeats information endlessly) and had ended with the *real* climax, it might have been a pleasant read.
Darya Elle
Each character is uniquely written and the reader will have a interesting time getting to know all of them as well as their life stories.
Book Monger

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By N. Larrabee on June 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Anna, Bett, and Carrie Quinlan are sisters who have not spoken to one another in three years. Their emotions, doubts, and expressions are heart-felt and universal. Their individual stories are what held the most appeal in this saga of love and heartache. Lola, their grandmother demands that they come home to the Clare Valley in Australia to help celebrate her 80th birthday. Lola is a unique individual who has a somewhat over-the-top personality in every aspect. Her granddaughters love her because she doted on them when they were younger. A long time ago, Lola had organized her granddaughters into a singing group called the Alphabet Sisters. As the years passed, Anna married Glenn and had a daughter named Ellen. Bett became engaged to Matthew, an aspiring veterinarian. The family was torn apart when Matthew called off the engagement because he was in love with Carrie. They all went their separate albeit unhappy ways without one another. Once they are home for Lola's party, they are all overwhelmed by memories. Reluctantly faced with the prospect of producing their grandmother's musical, Anna, Bett, and Carrie little by little overcome their differences. The family is happily reunited for a brief time, until a minor health problem takes a turn for the worse with one of the sisters. The narrative borders on being banal at times, knowing who will end up with who before the characters do, and what events will take place. However, you will laugh and cry at times, and take pleasure in many moments in the lives of the Alphabet Sisters.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book Monger on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mcinerney's book The Alphabet Sisters is sort of like the movie "Kiss the Bride" with hints of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." The book is about the reunion of 3 feuding sisters (one of which stole her own sister's fiance). All their grandmother Lola (a energetic, spunky, quick witted 80 yr old woman) wants is for the sisters to love each other once again and to accept each other. Brilliantly organized, the book offers individual points of view from each sister (as well as Lola's) so as to allow the reader to reflect and better understand each character. Each character is uniquely written and the reader will have a interesting time getting to know all of them as well as their life stories.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Scott on June 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Although slow to begin with, this was easy enough to read, but did fall into that category of "a bit of a waste of reading time", unless you had a particular reason for reading it. The basic idea (the story of three sisters from a small town in South Australia who all end up back in that town together as adults after years of avoiding one another, and rediscover that closeness) and the setting appealed, but the story itself is very simplistic to the point that it makes you cringe at times. And the book is not particularly "true to label" - in an attempt to pack a punch and give the exploration of the sisters' relationships a real focus, it adds a storyline which takes the book into very different territory and which seems at odds with its brief and promise. Presumably this is intended to either shock you or engage your emotions - but for me, it just came across as a cheap trick.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tuppence on December 26, 2004
I was fortunate enough to be able to read this delightful book in one sitting this boxing day and I loved it, not since the March Sisters have I enjoyed and cried with a book such as this I love these girls especially Bett who to me is the modern day Jo the Savvy journalist of the bunch we also have the modern Day version of Amy in Carrie and Anna carries both the personalities of Meg and Beth, I have been a visitor to both Clare and Terowie so I love the little snippets of History that Monica shares with us about general Mc Arthur's famous quote. I honestly could not put down this book as the Quinlan Sisters became part of my life for one enjoyable afternoon please read ans enjoy as much as I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Finding a light beach read this summer should be as easy as A-B-C. Look no further than THE ALPHABET SISTERS, a frothy family saga from Australian novelist Monica McInerney.

McInerney has spun a tale centering on three sisters --- Anna, Bett and Carrie Quinlan (get it? A, B, C) --- who spent a good deal of their girlhoods touring across Australia as "The Alphabet Sisters," a kind of low-rent version of the Osmonds minus the Mormonism and enormous teeth.

Cooked up by their flamboyant grandmother, Lola, as a scheme to give the girls something to do, "The Alphabet Sisters" not only broke up, but the sisters entangled themselves in such a fervent feud that none of them are even on speaking terms.

Contrary to the old song, there was a mister who came between these sisters. Enter Bett's fiancé, Matthew, who finds himself hopelessly in love with sister Carrie, triggering the feud, which had, in all honesty, been brewing for years. Something about unflattering costumes and Yoko Ono (okay, I made up that part about Yoko Ono. I just think it might be wise to work her in somewhere when the story has to do with the breakup of a band.)

The jilted Bett flees to London, Anna becomes a none-too-famous actress in Sydney, and Carrie settles down in their hometown. Awkwardness ensues.

The girls agree to put aside their differences and return to their hometown to help plan the celebration of Lola's 80th birthday. More than just a little meddling and more than slightly pickled, Lola envisions the party as a way to reunite her family. The girls agree to put aside their petty differences. Well, they're really not so petty, are they? Stealing and marrying your sister's fiancé has got to be right up there when you think of unpetty differences.
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