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Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I wasn’t going to take any more books out from the library last Friday. Not for the short loan book that require reader to finish them within a week or bring it back for re-stamp. By strange reason, this book drawn me to it. I read the first page, then second and I knew I had to take it home and finish it.

Sister is a haunting tale about Beatrice, nicknamed Bee, who gets a frantic call in bitter winter of New York that her younger sister Tess is missing. She boards the first flight home to London Chepstow road and soon trace the circumstances surrounding Tess disappearance.

Tess is an art student, single and involve with a married man. As Lupton peels the layers of mystery like onion, the reader is surprised again and again by the little findings that Lupton slowly hands out to the reader, and slowly I got suck deeper and deeper into the story and into Beatrice’s psyche.

Early in the book, a horrifying truth unveiled. While Beatrice’s mother, fiance Todd and the police persuade her to accept that Tess is gone, Beatrice refused to accept it. Every evidence point to the single truth, but Beatrice, constantly challenged by how closely she knows her sister, refuse to accept the evidence.

The story is told through Beatrice confiding to her missing sister and attending several recording sessions with a CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) lawyer called Mr. Wright. She narrates her emotional journey of finding the truth about her sister. Sometimes she breaks down, other time she forge on willing to tell the whole story. Beatrice took the case in her own hands and investigate. Is it the doing of her sister’s lover and tutor, Emilio? Is it her classmate Simon? Is it the landlord (I recalled the case of Joanna Yeates who got lost during last Christmas day in Bristol)? How much does Tess’ Polish friend Kasia knows about Tess’ life? As the story unveils, more and more people became possible suspects. The flashback method of story telling is deployed here and it actually works.

This is unlike any other psychological thriller I read. Not only because it is set on a familiar ground of the UK’s social scenes (e.g. the inefficiencies of NHS (National Health Services), London and Hyde Park, characters of different nationalities and background) it is narrated in a very heart rending and emotional account of one sister’s love to another, which amplifies ten fold in this suspense of a thriller. The thriller explores the relationship between two sisters and their mother and the deterioration of a love relationship and self-discovery of the protagonist. Ambitious yet deftly delivered.

You are not suppose to quote beautiful passages from a psychological thriller, yet I found myself noting down many:

Already you were going into the past. People think it’s reassuring to say ‘life carries on’, dont’ they understand that it’s the fact your life carries on, while the person you love’s does not, that is one of the acute anguishes of grief? There would be day after day that wasn’t the day you were found; that hope, and my life with my sister in it, had ended. – page 65

I realised Todd didn’t really know me at all. Nor me him. Ours was a relationship of small talk. We’d never stayed awake long into the night hoping to find in that nocturnal physical conversation a connection of minds. We hadn’t stared into each other’s eyes because if eyes are the window to the soul it would be a little rude and embarrassing to look in. We’d created a ring-road relationship, circumventing raw emotions and complex feelings, so that our central selves were strangers. – page 137

But instead I was deeply moved. And I felt closer to you. Because you knew me so much better than I’d realised – and still loved me. You were kind enough not to tell me that you knew about my fearfulness, allowing me to keep my Big Sister self-respect. – page 228

The book also first introduced me to the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) disease and how genetics play a part in affected carrier.

There is 1 in 4 chance of affected child by two unaffected parents who carry the CF genes

All photo credits from : Wikipedia

The medical research in this case about DNA and Chromosomes are convincing. For once when other mentions about CF had gone through my head, this one has stuck. Lupton has successfully spun an enthralling thriller behind this research facts.

I always envy women who has sister because I haven’t. I felt in a way like an only child who has to place her trust on a friend which may disappoint sometime and will never understand me or be as close as a sister who grew up with me. I don’t remember reading something as poignant about sisterly love as this one.

There were many clever twists, little facts unveiled themselves one by one very slowly and the ending was surprising, horrifying and climactic. I was surprised by both who-dunnit and the ending and I would like to believe that the ending is a happy one, albeit ambiguous.

This book sends chill to my bones and haunts me no end. Very clever. Lupton is the one to watch and I’ll be reading her next book when published later this year.

For now, it made me want to pick up my next thriller or crime novel. Maybe it is time for Jo Nesbo.


4th read for Mystery and Suspense challenge.

Paperback. Publisher: Piatkus, Little Brown 2010; Length: 373 pages;  Setting: Contemporary London.  Source: Reading Battle Library short loan. Finished reading on: 3rd July 2011.

Other views:

Book World in my head: In the end I did guess who was behind it all but there was an extra twist at the end which came as a complete surprise to me. It certainly was a great end to the book.

S. Krishna: It’s difficult to believe that this is Lupton’s first novel, as it is expertly crafted and tightly woven

Petrona: The power of this novel is in its depiction of the relationships of a mother and two daughters, and the inner lives of the girls. I loved it, and am glad that the novel is enjoying such success as a result of being one of the Richard and Judy book club selections this year.

The Hungry Reader: Sister is an accomplished debut that looks at how relationships affect us and it’s a book that will stay with you days after you finish it.

About the writer:

Rosamund Lupton read English Literature at Cambridge University. After a variety of jobs in London, including copywriting and reviewing for the Literary Review, she was a winner of Carlton Television’s new writers’ competition and was selected by the BBC for a place on their new writer’s course. She was also invited to join the Royal Court Theatre’s writers group.

Her first novel, Sister, was chosen for Radio 4’sBook at Bedtime. Her second book will be published later this year.

She lives with her husband Martin and two children.

About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.


22 thoughts on “Sister by Rosamund Lupton

  1. Ok, you’ve convinced me to get ahold of this one! Thank you for a great review

    Posted by Helen | July 5, 2011, 1:31 pm
  2. Wonderful review of an interesting book, Jo! I love the cover picture and the passages that you have quoted. Thanks for this wonderful review!

    I love the fact that you are reading ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ 🙂 Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

    Posted by Vishy | July 5, 2011, 2:23 pm
  3. I’m glad that you liked this. I’ve been mostly on the fence, but now I’m more intrigued. I’ll also look for this one.

    Posted by Aths | July 5, 2011, 2:29 pm
  4. I so can’t wait to read this! Wonderful review!

    Posted by rhapsodyinbooks | July 5, 2011, 5:12 pm
  5. I am so glad that you liked it. I loved it too (as you know). It was actually a book my book group chose. We met up again this week to talk about a different book and yet we still found ourselves discussing that one. It was one of those rare times when everyone liked the same book.

    It was the sister bond that made the book for me too. Mainly because I have a sister and we are very close. I also found the cystic Fibrosis aspect interesting. It was that which stopped it from being a generic mystery.

    Posted by Karen | July 7, 2011, 5:49 am
    • Karen,
      Thanks for dropping by. I can’t stick with a book club because I am afraid that I may be forced to read a book that I didn’t want to to read. I’m glad your book club chose this book though, I thought Lupton was brilliant. I wasn’t sure what Cystic Fibrosis was but now that I know it is a grave illness and if there is a genetic cure for it, I’m all for it.

      Oh how wonderful to have a sister who is also a close friend! 🙂

      Posted by JoV | July 7, 2011, 7:42 am
  6. Any time. Our book group is quite easy going. No one has to read the book if they really don’t fancy it. The only rule is that if you don’t you have to recommend a book you read that month. We all have such different tastes it would be too difficult to cater to them all. It works out well for us.

    Posted by Karen | July 7, 2011, 5:20 pm
  7. JoV,
    I would like to pitch a book for your review, but I can’t find an e-mail anywhere.

    Posted by David Mark Brown | July 7, 2011, 10:41 pm
  8. Thanks for posting the info. about cystic fibrosis. Very interesting.

    Posted by Ann | July 13, 2011, 11:54 am
  9. The most important thing first: I love the cover! ;D Also, I’m very interested in sister relationships and how they are represented in literature (for similar reasons as your own, I only have a brother).
    This one is going on the list, and thanks for your very informative post, Jo!

    Posted by Bina | July 15, 2011, 7:30 pm
    • Bina,
      My pleasure Bina. I think having brothers only made us more tomboyish than most girls! I hope you read this soon, because I know you will sit out for an exciting thriller! 😉

      Posted by JoV | July 17, 2011, 8:13 pm
  10. I love the premise of the story, Jo. Wonderful review as always.

    Posted by Geosi | July 20, 2011, 2:57 pm


  1. Pingback: Sister – Rosamund Lupton – 8/10 | Reading Fuelled By Tea - September 7, 2011

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City

JoV's favorite books »
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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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