SISTER, by Rosamund Lupton, is an award winning debut novel by the British novelist. I acquired her second book, AFTERWARD, so thought I would read the author's first book to get a taste of what her writing is like. This is a suspense novel with literary roots and presented in a very unique fashion.
The entire novel is one long "letter" written to Tess by her sister Beatrice. Tess is dead, and Beatrice is writing the letter after it has been discovered what really happened to Tess and Beatrice is waiting to testify at the trial. In her letter, Beatrice promises not to get ahead of herself, so she tells the story as it happens, beginning when she gets the call from her mum that she hasn't heard from Tess in a few days. Tess was pregnant, and Beatrice is very concerned. She and Tess were very close. The story is quite simple really. It is about Beatrice refusing to believe her 21 year-old sister killed herself, and her quest to find out what really happened even though no one believed her.
The gimmick: This novel is definitely told in a way I've never seen before. It takes a while to get used to Beatrice constantly addressing "you," or Tess, the dead sister she is writing. The story is also told in two timelines. One, as Beatrice's investigation of Tess's death unfolds, and after the fact, as she gives her statement to the police. This is a clever way to tell the story, but at times it takes the place of actual story.
The twist: There is a twist in the final chapter. I don't think it changes the story for better or worse. I'm kind of ambivalent about it. I love twists that turn the story on its head, but this twist really doesn't do that. I hand it to the author for trying something like that, but it wasn't really necessary. The story was good enough without it.
I can't wait to read AFTERWARD, and see how Lupton follows up her great debut novel.
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