Heartfelt novel set in LONDON and BRISTOL
Psychological thriller set around the MEDITERRANEAN
19th September 2020
Sisters by Michelle Frances, psychological thriller set around the Mediterranean (Elba / Italy / South of France / Northern Spain)
The author has taken the concept of sibling rivalry and set it at the heart of her novel. Susannah is the mother of the eponymous sisters of the title, Abby, the older sister and Ellie, the younger. Ellie, throughout her childhood spent a great deal of time being ill with an undiagnosed condition. She had a lot of time off school and now struggles financially and with her career. Abby, by contrast, is a high flyer, she has already earned significant money but she has really grafted for it. She has always resented Ellie, her mother’s seemingly favourite child.
And it is on the island of Elba where Abby now lives with her policeman husband Matteo. Mum and sister have been invited to regroup and let bygones be bygones. Indeed it is a stunning location and frankly what’s not to like? Can family dynamics be laid to rest? Of course not, there couldn’t be a story otherwise.
An unexpected incident, however, see the girls taking the car across to mainland Italy and driving hell for leather around the Mediterranean towards, as it turns out, Spain.
There is some inkling that Ellie’s on-going childhood illness was not really due to a physical condition but that she was being administered drugs, perhaps poison even. Mum Susannah points the accusing finger at Abby and her resentment of her younger sister; Abby points to Susannah as being the perpetrator. And it is this mystery that keeps the tension humming throughout the story – was Ellie indeed fed detrimental substances and if so, who was responsible?
The author is very good at driving the plot forwards, providing pacy swerves in the narrative. I was gripped to see the outcome. Overall, though, I had to suspend belief – estranged grandmother arrives to add her ha’penny worth, a helicopter appears to fly in at the denouement. It all goes a bit wild. There is a little too much focus on the road trip that the sisters are forced to take – it is clearly designed to explore their relationship a little deeper but they rattle around the glorious locations and the psychology doesn’t go very deep.
This is a reasonably entertaining poolside read which will take you through some lush, Mediterranean countryside.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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