Today I’m pleased to welcome Michelle Adams to the blog. Michelle’s debut novel My Sister was published by Headline on 20 April 2017.
Today Michelle talks about her favourite sisters in fiction.
It’s often said that there is no better friend than a sibling. After all, they are the people with whom we spend most of our childhood. They teach us, guide us, and provide us with a way of learning how to nurture another person in return. But just as sibling relationships can provide unconditional love and support, they can also provide the foundation for a dark and twisted dynamic, such as we have come to love in our fiction.
And so the sibling relationship, a family connection that should be unbreakable, has led to a wealth of different and often outright scary portrayals. And in 2017 the theme of dark dysfunctional sisters in fiction seems to be hot on the menu. So I thought I’d look back on some of the fictional sister relationships that have inspired me in the books I have loved.
The Lovely Bones – by Alice Sebold
I first read this book when it was released in 2002, and while these sisters are not exactly twisted, they are unique in this list by the fact that one of them is dead throughout most of the narrative, and speaks to us from heaven. And what I love about this novel is the depth of the sibling connection in this story, and how that bond persists, and perhaps even grows stronger after one sister has died. It is a tale that explores the idea that despite the things that might happen to you, be it loss, or distance, or even death the connection between two siblings is unbreakable.
Sharp Objects – by Gillian Flynn
My first introduction to Gillian Flynn’s work was with Gone Girl. I was seeing that cover everywhere for months before I picked up the book, and once I finally got around to reading it I loved it. As soon as I finished I binged on her other two earlier novels. Her debut work, Sharp Objects is as dark as it is fantastic. One sister is covered in scars from a history of self-harm, tormented by the death of her sister when she was a child. But when she is forced to return to her home town to report on a series of murders she is forced to reconnect with her estranged family. She begins to realise that not only are the recent murders linked to her sister’s death, but also her surviving family members, including a precocious half-sister with whom she is sharing a house. Twisted, seedy, and dark. I absolutely loved it.
My Sister’s Bones – by Nuala Ellwood
Although I have only read this book recently I have to put it on my list. Ellwood created two strikingly different sisters who have both suffered in adulthood as a result of their difficult family history. While one sister is presented as an accomplished war reporter, the other sister is a suffering and isolated alcoholic. And while they may be estranged and struggling in the face of their mother’s death, only by reconnecting will they be able to move forwards. What I loved about this book is that not only were we given two exception characters in the shape of the two struggling sisters, the novel also had a really deep heart. I felt for them, and really wanted them to find their way in life. And then when I was least expecting it I was hit by a fabulous twist that made this, for me, a perfectly executed psychological thriller. I love a surprise, and this book really gave it to me.
The Hunger Games – by Suzanne Collins
It is impossible to talk about twisted sisters without talking about the depth of the bond that is shared in such a relationship. Without the bond there is nothing. Without the bond there can be no twist. So while not strictly twisted in anyway, I loved the series of The Hunger Games books. None of this story would have been possible without the depth of the sibling bond between Katniss and Prim which gets the whole thing going in the first place. This book is about real unconditional love and protecting your sister at all costs, even if that means giving your life, or taking the lives of others.
The Shining – by Stephen King
While I love this book, what I am really referring to here is the movie (is that allowed?). We’ve all heard somebody say the book was better than the movie, and we’ve probably all said it too. I know I have. And there are a lot of people who hate this movie for that very reason, and lament it’s deviation from King’s novel. And I’ll be honest, I get it, but at the same time I’m not one of those people. I know, I know, the characters are stripped down, and there is little development of their motives and story, and absolutely no redemption for Jack when he freezes to death in the maze. The book is inherently better. But this movie was the first horror movie I couldn’t get through. I had a solid constitution, had seen all manner of twisted movies before this, but it was The Shining that got me. And why? It all came down to those little Grady twins. Two girls, who really didn’t have anything to say, managed to scare the absolute life out of me. They were undoubtedly my first experience of twisted sisters, and they haunted my nightmares for months. The idea of watching this movie still gives me chills twenty years later. For me it doesn’t get much more twisted than that.
About the book:
My name is Irini. I was given away.
My name is Elle. I was kept.
All her life Irini thought she was given away because her family didn’t want her. What if the truth is something worse?
Two sisters. Two separate lives.
One family bound by a harrowing secret.
About the author:
Michelle Adams grew up in the UK and now lives in Cyprus, where she works as a part-time scientist. She read her first Stephen King novel at the tender age of nine, and has been addicted to suspense fiction ever since. MY SISTER is her first novel.