Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review - - The Sometimes Sisters

The Sometimes Sisters
By Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Montlake
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Reviewed by Janga

The three Clancy sisters return to Annie’s Place, the lakeside resort (consisting of twelve cabins and a combination convenience store-cafĂ©) owned by their late grandmother, Annie Clancy, loaded with guilt over their neglect of their grandmother in recent years. Growing up, the sisters spent a month each summer with their grandmother, the only time that Dana, “the bastard sister,” shared with her father’s legitimate daughters, Harper, a decade younger, and her younger sister Tawny. Granny Annie shared her love and wisdom with them indiscriminately, and Uncle Zed, their grandmother’s life-long best friend, served as a grandfather figure. But the “sometimes sisters” grew apart, and it has been a decade since the three of them gathered at the north Texas resort. They don’t even like each other much now, but they all loved their grandmother. They are all also devoted to Uncle Zed and to Dana’s fourteen-year-old daughter Brooke.

Annie’s will gives her property to the three sisters jointly, but they cannot sell it. They are obligated to work on the property for a year, drawing a salary. Annie knows her granddaughters well, and she assigns them tasks to capitalize on their strengths. Even Brooke is instructed to work on weekends. If they leave, they forfeit their inheritance. Each of the women is burdened with secrets and regrets, and each doubts that the three of them can get along well enough to run a business together. But with Annie’s instructions to “either live in harmony or get on down the road” sounding in their heads, they determine to give it a try.

The Sometimes Sisters is more women’s fiction than romance. The story includes a romance thread for each of the sisters and even one for young Brooke, but the focus of the story is the relationships among the sisters and their journeys to healing, forgiveness, and real sisterhood. None of the sisters comes across as particularly likable in the first part of the book. They spend a lot of time in defensive posturing and in shooting verbal arrows at one another. Their grief for their grandmother and their love for Uncle Zed gave me hope that they could change, and they did. Still, Annie and Zed are the most sympathetic characters, and their story has the most powerful emotional punch. Even though Annie dies in the opening pages, her presence is very much a part of the story. Tender-hearted readers should be prepared to read the final chapters with a box of tissues close at hand.

If your taste in fiction tends toward the steamy, the sophisticated, or the edgy, this is not the book for you. It is frankly sentimental, and its appeal will be greatest for those who can enjoy a certain folksy quality that seems to be characteristic of Brown’s fiction. Country music fans will appreciate all the musical references. I enjoyed the soundtrack that played in my imagination. My favorite allusion was to an old K. T. Oslin song, “80s Ladies.” Harper remembers the lines “One was pretty, one was smart, / And one was a borderline fool” and thinks they aptly describe her sisters and her since Tawny is the beauty, Dana is the brain, and she is the borderline fool. I’m not sure how believable it is that lyrics from a song older than she is would so easily come to Harper’s mind, but I like the song and the reference anyway.

If you like women’s fiction that is light on romance but filled with heart and emphases on second chances and the importance of family, I think you will enjoy this book. I did.