The Sisters’ Song
Author: Louise Allan
Published: February 2018
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
My Rating: 5 / 5
Set in rural Tasmania over a span of seventy years, the strengths and flaws of motherhood are revealed through the mercurial relationship of these two very different sisters.
The Sisters’ Song speaks of dreams, children and family, all entwined with a musical thread that binds them together.
It’s hard to believe The Sisters’ Song is Louise Allan’s first novel. Not only is it a beautifully touching story, but it is told with the poise and tenderness that you would expect from a more seasoned author. With fully developed emotion, authentic characters, and scenes that you can picture, taste and smell, this is one novel that will linger well after reading.
The Sisters’ Song tells the story of two sisters, Ida and Nora. It is evident that the sisters are very different from an early age. In 1926, the lives of Ida aged 8, and Nora aged 6, are changed forever after the passing of their father. With their mother sinking into depression, the girls are sent to their paternal Grandmother’s house. The story follows the sisters for a period of seventy years as their lives intertwine through a series of events and tragedies, each finding themselves with hopes and dreams that are never realised, for very different reasons. And although the sisters grow apart, they retain a bond that lasts a lifetime.
The Sisters’ Song is an emotional read full of heartache and tragedy, but always hope. It explores the complex nature of family relationships and the intrinsic bond that we share with those closest to us.
It would be hard to find someone who isn’t touched by reading The Sisters’ Song. For me, it evoked many emotions. We all hold family secrets, and strained relationships unique to our own situations, which makes it so easy to open up to the storyline. While the story is Ida and Nora’s, the emotions, the struggles, the feelings are things we have all experienced, some more than others.
Allan builds a story around every-day characters, living plain lives during simple times. It goes to show that everyone does have a story to tell, if it is told well with emotion, heart, and honesty; as does ‘The Sisters’ Song’.
What I loved most about the novel, was Allan’s ability to create a scene by painting every detail with such precision. It’s clear she has combined an intimate knowledge of the Tasmanian setting, with elaborate research of the era and time periods in the book. So much so, you experience every scene in distinct, authentic detail. I particularly loved her descriptions of the smells. Ponds cream and Lux flakes reminds me of my own mother.
There is so much I could say about this book, so many words I could use – touching, heartfelt, poignant, stirring, emotive, sincere – all of them true. But, really words can’t describe just how beautiful this story is.
The Sisters’ Song is an outstanding debut novel, one written with heart and authenticity, that you simply have to experience for yourself.
Heads up! I will be talking about The Sisters’ Song and Redemption Point by Candice Fox live on Facebook tomorrow (Wednesday February 7th at 2pm AEDST).
I will be posting a Q&A with Louise next week where she talks about her novel. Stay tuned!