The Sunshine Sisters
Author: Jane Green
My Rating: 4/5
It was never easy being one of Ronni Sunshine’s daughters. Publicly, she is the glamorous, successful, dramatic Hollywood actrss. Privately, she is self-absorbed, angry, and a disinterested, narcissistic mother. Now in her sixties, Ronni has been diagnosed with ALS. There is no cure.
Ronni’s three adult daughters – Nell, Meredith and Lizzy – are largely estranged, both from her, and from each other. All going through crises of their own. But Ronni is adamant they must come home and help her take her own life. As their mother’s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears, they discover blood might be thicker than water after all…
There is something about Jane Green’s writing that I love.
It may be the simplicity she writes with – there’s no flowery descriptions or chunks of writing just to set the scene. It may be the beautiful way she has with dialogue – just the right amount to help the story move forward, but not a skerric more. Or perhaps it’s the real-life stories she creates – stories that are relatable and could be happening to anyone, at any time, just like life. Or maybe it’s her keen eye for creating beautifully flawed characters. Really, I think it’s a combination of all of these factors that compels me to pick up a Jane Green novel.
Green claims The Sunshine Sisters is the first book where she’s felt like she is ‘back to herself’. And if reviews are anything to gauge by, she did appear to lose her way with her last couple of novels (although I did enjoy them still).
The Sunshine Sisters isn’t a fast-paced, page turner. But not every book needs to be. What Jane does so wonderfully, is build her characters well. So much so, that even if you don’t like them, you still feel compelled to know their story and how it unfolds. Green delves deep into the psyche of her characters, something that I love from an author. You feel you get to know her characters and understand, even if you sometimes question, their motivations.
Ronni Sunshine for instance, is immediately unlikable, but also charismatically captivating. And each of the daughters – Nell, Meredith and Lizzy – have their own failures and flaws, just living their lives without much thought. That is, until they are forced to do so when summonsed by Ronni.
I enjoyed getting to know the characters through their childhood and into adulthood. And while the format of the writing, skipping passages of time, won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I thought it was handled well.
My only qualm with the book is that perhaps things were tied up a little too neatly. I think the book could have finished without the need of the epilogue, but many Green fans will like a satisfying ending.
The Sunshine Sisters isn’t groundbreaking in its format, nor its story. It’s not a book that will change the world. But not every book has to. What it does is allow for a bit of escapism, voyeurism, and perhaps a little self-reflection on what family means to you.