They Were Sisters
(endpaper of the Persephone edition of They Were Sisters)
Persephone Reading Week has begun! This is all set to be a wonderful reading event hosted by Claire at Paperback Reader and Verity at The B Files from May 3 to 9.
Most Persephone readers would say that Dorothy Whipple's best novel is Someone at a Distance, however, my choice would be They Were Sisters (1943). It was my first experience with Whipple and it still remains my favourite even after having read most of her books. I think my next favourite would be Because of the Lockwoods (reviewed here) which is still out of print. They Were Sisters is a beautiful novel that follows the lives of three sisters who have three very different husbands. Three different choices and thus three different lives. Lucy marries William, her best friend and has a happy and peaceful life though without children. Vera marries Brian, a boring man who worships her but finally drives her to have extramarital affairs. Charlotte marries Geoffery, a horrible bully who emotionally abuses her turning her into a depressed alcoholic. The children of Vera and Charlotte soon pay the price for their parents' unhappy marriages and Lucy becomes the only adult they can depend on.
Though this is a domestic story, it's a page-turner. I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what happened next in the sisters' lives. Whipple, as usual, does a fabulous job of turning a story about ordinary lives into a gripping and compelling narrative. I didn't want it to end! Although it was written in 1943, the human emotions, trials and tribulations of her protagonists are so contemporary and could still happen today.
Whipple's writing is engrossing plus it feels so effortless and that's exactly what I love about her style. Her prose is pitch perfect and beautiful in its simplicity. This is a wonderful read that I can't recommend highly enough.