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The Sisters Mortland Hardcover – January 4, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With her latest gothic page-turner, Beauman (Rebecca's Tale) weaves a spellbinding tale of three charismatic English sisters and their irresistible pull on the men in their orbit. At the novel's start, it's summer of 1967 in Suffolk, England, where the Mortlands—gorgeous Julia; intellectual Finn (both in their early 20s); odd, imaginative 13-year-old Maisie; and their mother, Stella—live in a medieval abbey. Maisie, who narrates early on, is haunted by the death of their father—and by the abbey's long-gone nuns. Stella commissions Lucas Feld, a starving young artist, to paint the sisters. Julia and Finn, along with Lucas, Daniel Nunn (the sisters' childhood friend) and Daniel's friend Nick Marlow, spend the summer entangled in affairs of the heart while Maisie observes. With his paint brush, Lucas uncannily captures the passion, heartbreak and mystery of the bittersweet summer. But a horrific tragedy, the details of which Beauman suspensefully reveals over the rest of the novel, destroys the summer idyll. Fast-forward to 1991: Lucas is now a famous artist whose breakthrough painting The Sisters Mortland will soon show at a retrospective, and Daniel, who narrates this section, is suffering a mid-life crisis and still obsessed with the events of that fateful summer. With a conclusion narrated by Julia, this well-paced, haunting novel will captivate Beauman's fans. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Wyken Abby, an old convent, is the home to the sisters Mortland--Julia, the fierce eldest sister; Finn, the sweet and stubborn middle sister; and Maisie, the youngest, at 13, and the opening narrator. It is the summer of 1967, and the Mortland family is enjoying the company of Dan, Finn's boyfriend, and Lucas, a visiting artist who comes to paint the sisters. Maisie weaves her strange tale of her family and their secrets until a tragic accident occurs. Jump ahead a little more than 20 years, and Dan takes up the narrative, filling in most of the blanks left by Maisie, including the repercussions the accident had on the family. Beauman uses her immense skill to tell a story wrought with sorrow and little betrayals. She intentionally drops clues and hints, slowly unraveling the mystery of the accident, ever expanding the perimeters of the damage. She carefully withholds details until she is ready to reveal them--and not a moment sooner--in an absorbing story of how people react in the face of tragedy. Carolyn Kubisz
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (January 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446578193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446578196
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,997,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Considering I was never able to make it through Rebeccas Tale, I did not really have high hopes for The Sisters Mortland either but since I cant turn down a new book with a great cover, I picked it up off the library shelf.

I am happy to report that I was hooked right from the first chapter in this haunting tale of the fateful summer of 1967. Told in several different narratives, you learn the story of Julia, Finn, and Maisie, three sisters who are living at an old convent with their mother and grandfather. You also meet a large supporting cast, which includes Dan, Nick, and Lucus, who will center around the rest of the book.

The Sisters Morland opens with Masie as the narrator. We learn a bit about her life at Wyken Abby and one by one she introduces us to the supporting cast and she takes us up to the point of when the accident occurred. We then move forward by twenty years and Dan takes up the narrative and we then slowly learn more secrets that could have possibly led up to what happened at the end of the summer of 1967. The story ends with Julia tying up some of the loose ends and bringing the story together.

The Sisters Morland is a clever story that twists, weaves and slowly lets the reading in n the big secrets that have been buried for 20 years.
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Format: Hardcover
Sally Beauman, author of The Sisters Mortland, weaves a fascinating and haunting story of love, secrets and grief mixed with a high level of intrigue. Her prose is taut with information carefully doled out throughout the story.

It is 1967 in Suffolk, England where we meet the sisters Mortland. Julie is beautiful, Finn is the intellectual, and 13 year-old Maisie is odd. They live with their mother Stella and grandfather in a crumbling medieval abbey where the nuns of an early era haunt the strange Maisie.

Lucas, a young artist in residence, is commissioned to paint the sisters. Along with Daniel (a local man with gypsy blood) who is a friend of the sisters, and Nick Marlow, a medical student, they all spend a tumultuous summer embroiled in life and love with Maisie as the observer and narrator in the first part of the book.

Lucas' painting captures the essence of the sisters and is completed right before a horrific tragedy occurs at the abbey. Some twenty years later, that painting has become famous and is shown at a retrospective. As Daniel narrates this portion of the book, we see his deterioration as a result of his obsession with the people and the events of that 1967 summer.

Following other catastrophic events that impact the novel's characters, Julie becomes the third narrator and fills in the missing pieces to this unsettling story.

Beauman's The Sisters Mortland, is a beautifully written, powerful and deeply moving story of an impoverished English family and the people whose lives are intermingled with theirs. The reader will be torn between the desire to read quickly in order to learn how it all ends--and to read each sentences slowly in order to savor the words.

Armchair Interviews says: The Sisters Morland is breathtaking and is highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
In THE SISTERS MORTLAND, Sally Beauman has created a captivating novel of emotional suspense. It centers around the tragic and mysterious events which take place at crumbling Ely Abbey, the childhood home of the three Mortland sisters and the favorite holiday spot of the men who inhabit the small orbit of their lives. While this description may sound gothic and romance, THE SISTERS MORTLAND is essentially a well-crafted literary mystery reminiscent of Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES. The novel's heart is the summer of 1967, but it continues to follow the lives of the Abbey's summer residents for several decades. The sisters themselves are fascinating, modern girls, known for their beauty and intellect as well as their familial strangeness. Independent Julia, the eldest, has just returned from a year's graduate study at Berkley bringing with her remnants of the American summer of love. Bright, bookish Finn, the middle sister, is on holiday from Cambridge where she is nearly inseparable from Dan (the Roma neighbor boy), Lucas (the starving artist) and Nick (a neighbor and soon-to-be doctor). And finally there is Maisie, the brilliant thirteen-year-old who is variously described as "abnormal", "strange" and "special", but is endlessly endearing to the reader as she is to the other characters. If the tragic summer of 1967 is the heart of the book, the soul is the painting that becomes Lucas' masterpiece: a portrait of the sisters Mortland that eerily captures the mysterious beauty and pain of the Mortland family.
Ms. Beauman has fashioned a superbly shaped novel with superior structure and well-paced suspense. She masterfully feeds the reader just enough detail to keep create tension and leave one wanting to read further.
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By A Customer on December 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In 1967 in Suffolk, England, the three Mortland sisters and their mom Stella move into a medieval abbey following the loss of the family patriarch. Though in their twenties Julia and Finn have somewhat moved on, but Stella and thirteen year-old Maisie still grieve. Stella hires local artist Lucas Feld to paint a portrait of her daughters. Meanwhile for Julia and Finn, it begins as a summer of love with the middle daughter seemingly sharing trysts with Lucas, childhood friend Daniel Nunn or perhaps pre-med student Nick Marlow while Julia considers running off to London. However, the summer turns bitter when tragedy occurs.

By 1991, Lucas is a renowned famous artist whose highly regarded painting The Sisters Mortland will be the center of a retrospective showing of his works. Daniel never recovered from the tragedy of what started as his greatest summer, but ended as his hauntingly worst as he fixated on the three sisters and the tragedy that shaped all their lives.

THE MORTLAND SISTERS is a fabulous character study that grips the audience who want to know what happened to destroy the idyllic summer of 67. The perspectives cleverly shift with the changing eras. Maisie providing her viewpoint of the goings on in 1967; Daniel takes over in 1991 with his point of view of the "present" and what he recalls from the most wonderful and most devastating summer of his life; finally Julia brings closure to the drama. Each of the key players seems different and reacts accordingly to the events that Sally Beaumont lays out throughout the gripping story line. Readers will cherish this powerful character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner
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