Book Review: The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon
December 13, 2011 21 Comments
I read a previous book by this writer a few years ago and enjoyed it a lot. That was Getting Rid of Matthew in which an adulterous man moves in with his lover who then decides she prefers to live on her own after all. Great read, so I was looking forward to reading this book, The Ugly Sister.
It was a fun read and has a really good sense of place, the place being the wealthier part of London.
The Ugly Sister: What it is about
Single Mum Abi starts a new phase in her life: her daughter Phoebe is taking a year out, travelling around the world before starting her university degree. Abi takes the opportunity to buy a smaller house and she can move in after the summer. But her old house is already sold and Cleo, her sister in London, suggests she come and stay with her and her family over the summer.
It is a great opportunity to connect with her sister again as they haven’t seen much of each other for many years. Cleo (whose real name is Caroline) has been a model since she was 16 years old and has been much too busy to involve herself with her parents and sister. Now, Cleo is almost 40, she has a husband and two daughters, and her career is on the way down.
But will Cleo spend time with Abi this summer? Abi likes the beautiful London house her sister and her husband own, but it seems she is an honorary nanny. The au pair has left and Cleo really does not have the time to deal with her children herself. She’s too busy going to vague appointments and beauty treatments. Abi feels let down by her sister.
Abi notices that she still isn’t getting any closer to her sister, but in the mean time, she starts getting feelings for her brother in law Jon. And that wasn’t quite as planned. She has a hard time of it, living in the same house as a man she has feelings for but can’t get too close to.
The Ugly Sister: What I thought
This is an easy read and I felt “at home” in the story from the start. I think I could be Abi. She has similar ideas and behavior as I think I would have in her situation. She is not at all stupid and her choices are usually well-founded. Still, the book is sometimes very funny.
I thought the description of London was very clear, especially the area where Cleo lives with its exclusive shops and rich housewives. It felt almost as if I was there myself.
Her boss (she takes a part-time job in a book shop near Cleo’s house) pretends to be Abi’s boyfriend at some point (to cover up for something) and goes rather far in this. I thought that was unlikely to happen in reality.
The book is not just about love and relationships between men and women. In fact, it was more about the relationship between the sisters, with Cleo always having been more successful than her sister and seemingly more appreciated by their parents. Is it possible to develop a good relationship with your sister after such a long time? And who, in the end, is the ugliest sister?
I got this book: from PenguinBenelux in return for a review
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 464
First published: 2011 (September)
Genre: contemporary fiction, chick-lit