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A Tale of Two Sisters Hardcover – August 17, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Lizbet and Cassie Montgomery, Jewish sisters in London, seem to like their lives: Lizbet, cute but schlumpy, has a mid-level job at Ladz Mag and a smart, sweet long-term, live-in boyfriend in product designer Tim; barrister Cassie, glossy, smart and hot, is married to fastidious BBC production assistant George Hershlag, which suits her fine. The two sisters have a close if constrained relationship, but when Lizbet announces she's pregnant, Cassie turns cold, even as their parents ("Vivica and Dad") are immediately thrilled. When, 30 or so pages later, Lizbet miscarries the baby in the second trimester, she plunges into despair. Cassie comes to her aid, but it may be too little, too late. Maxted (Behaving Like Adults, etc.) alternates smoothly between Lizbet's and Cassie's perspectives, giving each a distinctive voice and nailing lapsed London Jewry amusingly. When she shifts to Cassie, she handles a series of major revelations with the same emotional acuity that she gives Lizbet's devastation at the loss of her baby. As Lizbet discovers her fabulous side (but perhaps not for the better), what looks from the outside like Cassie's comeuppance is full of crushing sadness. Maxted has to do a lot of wrangling to manage the happy ending, but it offsets this chick lit novel's surprisingly harrowing center. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Like so many of the early chick-lit writers, Maxted has graduated from tales about young women grappling with single life to those dealing with the question of motherhood. The titular sisters are Lizbet and Cassie, and the pair couldn't be more different. Scattered Lizbet is completely taken aback upon discovering she is pregnant, as she has never in her life longed for a child. She is surprised by how quickly she becomes excited about the baby and how her adoring boyfriend, Tim, is every bit as thrilled. High-powered attorney Cassie wants a child more than anything else in the world, but she is growing to loathe her arrogant husband, George. Their difficulties with conceiving a child put even more strain on their already faltering marriage. When Lizbet miscarries her baby, she has an emotional implosion so complete that it jeopardizes her relationship with both Tim and her sister. Cliff-hanger chapter endings guarantee that the reader will keep turning the pages, while clever plotting and truly interesting characters make the novel a standout in the genre. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Maxted creates characters that I love. Cassie is younger, prettier, more career-oriented, and "harder" in that she doesn't show her emotions. Lizbet is older, average looking, but really happy no matter what her situation is, care-free and very emotional. They are almost nearly completely opposites- which is normal in many sister relationships.
While reading, you watch Cassie soften and discover herself through relationship turmoil, and learning to be supportive of her family members regardless of her opionion on their decisions. We also watch Lizbet lose herself after an awful event that tears her apart. We watch both girls totally change their personalitlies in order to help the other sister through her life- which is very similar to what real sisters do. We alter and change ourselves to help when we can, without completely losing the "gut" of our being.
The reason this is a three instead of a four or five star book is because the book was a bit... slow. There were a lot of events that happened, yes, but there was also a lot of self-inflection that came off as whiny sometimes. Maybe that was Maxted's intent? To make the reader see what Lizbet and/or Cassie was doing wrong so that we don't do it ourselves? Regardless, it was a bit annoying to read those parts.
I also had a hard time switching back and forth between Lizbet and Cassie's stories. The chapters weren't evenly broken up and at times it was hard to re-register my brain to follow that it was "Cassie" speaking now, or "Lizbet" speaking now. I almost wished it was told in third person all together, so that the separation of the two stories wouldn't be necessary.
A Tale of Two Sistes was a very good read. It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. It wasn't as funny as Maxted's other books, but there was a certain seriousness that carried through the book that actually gave it more depth. I enjoyed it.
However, at times, I would lose my way, as the story wended its way back and forth; occasionally, I had difficulty identifying who the narrator was at any given point. Sometimes chapters would identify the name of the narrator.
Despite those issues, however, I did come to enjoy the ups and downs of the sisters and their relationships with each other and with the men in their lives. The men were fairly loathsome, in my opinion, especially Cassie's husband. I did like the fact that he got his comeuppance at one point, and then started to improve his behavior.
A long untold secret about Cassie is divulged (to Cassie and the reader) fairly early, but Lizbet is in the dark for most of the book.
The ending was puzzling, because, in the space of a couple of paragraphs, the reader is catapulted forward in time to "the future" (about three years ahead), and then is pushed backwards for a more slow reveal. I felt unsettled.
Overall, I would recommend the story to those who enjoy Maxted, and for anyone who just loves books about women and their relationships. For me, though, it earned three stars.
Most recent customer reviews
A delightful and insightful read.