Books about sisters – sisterhood explained!

Image: Pixabay

There’s no shortage of books about the intense dynamics between sisters.  Rivalries, secrets, love and sacrifice make for great stories.  Check out these Book Club Mom reviews of sister books.  Can you add any to the list?



Brooklyn
by Colm Tóibín – Eilis Lacey’s older sister Rose understands the small-town limits of Enniscorthy, Ireland. It may be too late for Rose, but Eilis has a chance for a better life in America.


     
Calmer Girls
and Calmer Secrets by Jennifer Kelland Perry – rivalries and deep secrets can break the bond, but understanding and forgiveness can make it stronger



Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell – not just about slavery and the Civil War, GWTW is a classic story of how Scarlett O’Hara shamelessly manipulates her sisters and sister-in-law.



In the Woods
by Tana French – three sisters compete for their parents’ attention.  What happens when one turns up dead?



Miss Emily
by Nuala O’Connor – biographical novel about Emily Dickinson, her sisters and Emily’s young Irish maid



Silver Sparrow
by Tayari Jones – story about a man with two families – two wives and two daughters. Written first from the voice of the “secret” daughter, Dana, and later by her unknowing half-sister, Chaurisse.



Tell the Wolves I’m Home
by Carol Rifka Brunt – story about a family that is coping with AIDS and the strain between sisters when new relationships take over



The Time Between
by Karen White – Are sisters “forever” or can secrets ruin everything?  A story about two sets of sisters whose lives are divided by tragedy and broken dreams.



The Weird Sisters
by Eleanor Brown – upbeat story about three sisters who struggle with difficult problems and face turning-points in their lives



We Hear the Dead
by Dianne K. Salerni – a very readable and interesting recounting of Maggie, Kate and Leah Fox, three sisters who claimed to be able to communicate with the dead


Enjoyed immensely, before the blog:

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory


This sister book is on my TBR shelf:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


What are your favorite sister books?

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Five-Star Short Fiction

I think short fiction is one of the greatest types of literature. The compressed stories, intense situations, surprising ironic twists and abrupt finishes are some of the things I love about short stories. They always leave me thinking! Here’s a list of my favorites. What are yours?


a rose for emily pic

 

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

 

 


Best American Short Stories 1993

 

“An Angel on the Porch” by Thomas Wolfe

 


Babylon Revisited

 

“Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 


Best American Short Stories 1994

 

“Cold Snap” by Thom Jones


Scribner Anthology big

 

“Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood


Scribner Anthology big

 

“Gryphon” by Charles Baxter


in the gloaming

 

“In the Gloaming” by Alice Elliott Dark


Best American Short Stories 1993

 

“Red Moccasins” by Susan Power


Scribner Anthology big

 

“Same Place, Same Things” by Tim Gautreaux


the chrysanthemums pic

 

“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck


The Horse Dealer's Daughter new

 

“The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” by D. H. Lawrence


The Most Dangerous Game

 

“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell


The Necklace pic


“The Necklace”
by Guy de Maupassant


The Oblong Box

 

“The Oblong Box” by Edgar Allan Poe


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty new

 

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber


The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

 

“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”
by Ernest Hemingway


the joy luck club pic

 

“Two Kinds” from The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

 

 


I also enjoyed these collected stories by two of the greatest short fiction writers:

Dear Life cover

 

Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro

 

 


 

BIGWildernessTips

 

 

Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood

 

 


What’s your favorite genre?  Leave a comment and let’s get talking!

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Who’s That Author? Margaret Atwood

Who's that author final

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood (1939-) was born in Ottawa and grew up in northern Quebec and Ontario, and later in Toronto. She is the author of more than forty novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social history, and books for children. She has won many awards, including the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Book Award, the City of Toronto Book Award, and the Canadian Authors Association Award. Other honors include the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature in the United States and La Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. Her most recent novel is MaddAddam, Book 3 of the MaddAddam Triology (2013). She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

This information was adapted from Margaret Atwood’s website, The Scribner Anthology, Amazon.com and Wikipedia.

Here are some additional links about Margaret Atwood, including a full bibliography of her work:

Amazon Author page
Google biography
Margaret Atwood website biography
Margaret Atwood website
Margaret Atwood website bibliography

Be sure to visit these reviews and related posts about Atwood:

“Death by Landscape”
Wilderness Tips

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Best Fiction of 2014 – books I want to read

A busy book club mom can’t read everything as soon as it comes out, so here’s a list of what I want to read soon. I got these titles from a bunch of “Best of the Bests” floating around the internet this time of year. One book appeared on almost every list – All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, so I may start there.

 

a girl is a half-formed thingan

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – Eimear McBride

This is McBride’s debut novel about a young woman’s relationship with her brother who suffered a childhood brain tumor.

 

all the light we cannot see

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

A National Book Award Finalist, this is a story about a blind French girl and a German boy who meet in occupied France during World War II.

 

big little lies

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

A story about the lives of three women, their marriages and all the baggage – ex-husbands, children, sadness, loss, scandals and lies.

 

the boston girl

The Boston Girl – Anita Diamant

A novel about a family, friendship and young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

 

let me be frank with you

Let Me Be Frank With You – Richard Ford

Four linked stories about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are narrated by Ford’s famous literary storyteller, Frank Bascombe.

 

lucky us

Lucky Us – Amy Bloom

Two women friends travel through America during the 1940s in search of fame and fortune.

 

the miniaturist

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

A novel about a young newlywed in seventeenth century Amsterdam, an unusual wedding gift – a miniature model of their home – and the artist she hires to furnish it.

 

stone mattress

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales – Margaret Atwood

Nine new stories by one of the best in short fiction.

 

the vacationers

The Vacationers – Emma Straub

The Post family travels on a two-week vacation to the Balearic Island of Mallorca to celebrate, but their idyllic vacation takes a turn when old resentments, sibling rivalries and secrets break the surface.

 

we are not ourselves

We Are Not Ourselves – Matthew Thomas

Eileen Tumulty is an Irish-American from Queens, New York, with an eye to reach for the American Dream, an ambition her husband does not share. Years of marriage make this rift nearly impossible to mend.

 

Thanks to the following sources: Amazon.com, BuzzFeed Books, The Daily Beast, Entertainment Weekly, Goodreads, Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times, The Washington Post

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Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood

BIGWildernessTips

Wilderness Tips
by
Margaret Atwood

Rating:

Wilderness Tips is a collection of ten short stories by Margaret Atwood and was first published in 1989. I enjoyed reading this somewhat unusual group of stories which are tied together loosely with some common themes.

She writes about summer camps, mental breakdowns, marriage and relationships, death, women’s careers and women’s rights, newspapers and social issues.

Some of the stories have surprise endings, some include graphic medical details, and all of them are reflective about times past.

Here’s a brief description of each story:

  • “True Trash” takes place at Camp Adanaqui and is a coming-of-age story about a group of boys who spy on the older teenage waitresses at the camp. Ronette is the center of the boys’ attention and Donny defends her honor in his own seemingly powerless adolescent way.
  • “Hairball” is a strange story of Kat, an angry young woman who faces mental breakdown and exacts revenge on her married lover. Atwood uses the shock of graphic medical details to make a powerful point about mental illness.
  • In “Isis in Darkness,” Richard is with Mary Jo, a stable librarian, but he obsesses over Selena, a mysterious poet he’s met at a coffee shop. It’s a story about marriage and regrets and of being alone.
  • In “The Bog Man,” Connor is an archaeology professor, dedicated to uncovering the history of an ancient, perfectly preserved human sacrifice. He’s having an affair with one of his students, Julie, and he brings her to Scotland to “help” with his research. It’s here where Julie learns to assert her own power, much to Connor’s dismay.
  • “Death by Landscape” is a great story about the friendship between two girls at Camp Manitou, and an irreversible tragedy. Lois spends a lifetime trying to cope with her loss and at the end of the story, Atwood reveals the mystery behind a collection of landscape paintings.
  • In “Uncles,” Mae is a young girl who has no father, but she’s greatly admired by her three uncles. This story starts out flat and bland, but don’t let that trick you. Mae becomes a successful journalist, but she faces jealousy and resentment and the ending is dark and bitter.
  • “The Age of Lead” is a story about the Franklin Expedition of 1845, a British voyage through the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage. Jane is fascinated by the modern discovery of a frozen man, John Torrington, who died during the expedition. She compares the frozen man to her close childhood friend, Vincent, whose death has left her empty.
  • “Weight” describes the deep loyalty between female friends. Molly has been beaten to death by her husband and her best friend does what she can to raise money and awareness for battered women, using whatever means she has left.
  • “Wilderness Tips” is one of my favorites from this collection. It’s a terrific look at the dynamics between three sisters, their brother Roland and George, a Hungarian refugee, who made fast money in Canada. He’s married one of the sisters, but there’s deception going on.
  • “Hack Wednesday” takes place in the late 1980s and is a look at the changing times, social issues, and growing older. Marcia is a newspaper columnist, but she’s being squeezed out. Her husband, Eric, fights for all the causes, but his career is slowing down. It’s a story about trudging through middle age.

I liked all these stories, but my favorites were “True Trash,” “Death by Landscape,” “Uncles” and “Wilderness Tips.”   While not always upbeat, all of the endings are either surprising, satisfying, or though-provoking, the things I enjoy most from great fiction!

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What’s up next? Wilderness Tips, by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

Since I love reading short fiction, I thought I would stay in Canada and go right from Alice Munro to some of Margaret Atwood’s short stories. I’ve read a couple of her books (The Blind Assassin and The Handmaid’s Tale) and thought they were excellent. I got Wilderness Tips from the library and have it on my Kindle for two weeks. It’s a collection of ten stories, including one I’ve already read – “Death by Landscape” – but I think this version might be slightly different.  I read in the front of the book that this story and some others were previously published “in slightly different form.”

This morning I read the first story, “True Trash” and thought it was great so I already know I’ve made a good choice.

There are many different covers for Wilderness Tips and that surprises me, but I haven’t researched it to know why.  Probably just a marketing thing.

My cover on the Kindle looks like this:

amazon.com
amazon.com

But I think I like this cover better:

brokeandbookish.com
brokeandbookish.com

Check back soon for my review. Thanks for visiting!

“Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood


“Death by Landscape”
by
Margaret Atwood

Rating:

I found this great short story in The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction – Fifty North American Stories Since 1970.

Lois has downsized to a waterfront condominium. Her husband has died and her children are grown. She is relieved by the simplicity of her new life. No lawn to worry about, no upkeep, no ivy invading the bricks or pesky squirrels chewing on attic wires. No plant life whatsoever.

She has brought with her an extensive collection of landscape paintings, now densely displayed on her wall. So different from how they were hung at the house, one over a couch, one in a hallway, like accents. Here they collectively present themselves and while she is satisfied with this new arrangement, they leave her feeling unsettled.

Lois has collected them over the years, and although they are valuable, she didn’t buy them as investments. Atwood writes:

She bought them because she wanted them. She wanted something that was in them, although she could not have said at the time what it was. It was not peace: she does not find them peaceful in the least. Looking at them fills her with a wordless unease. Despite the fact that there are no people in them or even animals, it’s as if there is something, or someone, looking back out.

Lois recalls the tragic events of an overnight canoe trip during her camping days at Camp Manitou. A lost friend, Lucy, and the mystery of her disappearance still haunt Lois. She still relives the moments when Lucy vanished, just as she did when she was thirteen. What kind of cry did she hear? Was it fear, surprise, something else? She questions her movements. Should she have done something differently? What did Cappie, Camp Manitou’s director, herself desperate for an explanation, mean when she questioned Lois?

Now as Lois looks at these paintings, she sees Lucy in every one of them, somehow hiding within the trees, or in the brush, or behind a rock.

I like this story. I like the way Lois learns to cope with her loss. How she creates a full circle of grief. It’s taken Lois most of her life to reconcile these feelings and the story ends with hope and, Lois thinks, perhaps joy.

Here is a short biography, adapted from The Scribner Anthology, Amazon.com and Wikipedia.

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood

MARGARET ATWOOD (1939-) was born in Ottawa and grew up in northern Quebec and Ontario, and later in Toronto. She is the author of more than forty novels, short stories, poetry, literary criticism, social history, and books for children. She has won many awards, including the Governor General’s Award, the Trillium Book Award, the City of Toronto Book Award, and the Canadian Authors Association Award. Other honors include the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature in the United States and La Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. Her most recent novel is MaddAddam, Book 3 of the MaddAddam Triology (2013). She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Here are some additional links about Margaret Atwood, including a full bibliography of her work:

Margaret Atwood website biography
Margaret Atwood website bibliography
Amazon biography
Google biography

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