Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesday

"Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister,
and Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man"
"Sisters", Irving Berlin

Truth be told, the whole sibling things has always been a point of jealousy for me. We always seem to wish for that which we don't have, and as an lonely only, I always begged and pleaded for at least one other person to share things with. (Well, maybe not share)(More like admire from an approved distance).

So when I get the opportunity to read about a batch of siblings - sisters, brothers, sisters and brothers - I jump at it. I always find that it gives me a fresh perspective on things, and it really is an eye-opener for me to get a glimpse into what it must be like to live one's history alongside another being.

I remember being quite excited at the beginning of this book - there were 4 sisters, plus a middle brother to boot. I was ready to be dazzled by the ever-changing dynamic. And I was.

At the beginning.

When we first meet the sisters (and brother) - Bette Davis, Loretta Young, Cary Grant, Rita Hayworth and Sophia Loren Galbadon - we are given wee parcels of information of their personalities and quirks. Intermeshed with this introduction is the deathbed promise of their caregiver Fermina, that each will be bestowed with a "gift" that will give them soulful, magical powers to carry them through their days.

I must admit, I was quite charmed by the sisters initially. Some were kind, some were dour, some were a canvas just beginning to be cautiously fleshed out.

But then, with the progress of the book, I began to become a little confused.

This is at least 2 or 3 stories that are jam-packed into one. There is a lot going on.

There is the story of the family's dynamic.

There is the story of their elderly caregiver, and the slow reveal of her personal history, through socialogical reports and records (where these came from we don't really find out until near the end - I became pretty impatient for this tie-in)

There is the story of the times (and they are a'changin', babe).

There is the story of each of the sister's evolution.

There is the mystery of how the caregiver came to become part of the Galbadon mix.

If I were to read a story of any one of elements in and of itself, I would truly enjoy it, and no doubt be immersed.

What I found kind of irksome, a third of the way through, was my perceived lack of interconnectedness between all the stories.

Plus, I always felt as it there was always a grain of something missing. Something that I wanted to know, but was perhaps not deemed necessary. Each chapter seemed to leave a little bit out.

I find that if I'm reading a novel that really really grabs me , I usually am so immersed that I don't have to constantly backtrack because I feel like I missed something.

With this, I did feel the need to constantly backtrack.

And backtracking to me is a waste of my time.

I used to be awestruck by big families - my curiosity as to how they could possibly all live (at least semi-harmoniously) under one roof was always keen and usually never sated. I always believed, looking at things from my only-child POV, that things must be so-o-o-o chaotic and confusing.

Now, I'm thinking I might be right.

I would LOVE to give away 4 copies of this book, so that you can read it and tell me what I just didn't get.

If you're interested in the challenge, e-mail me at :
and tell me just what it is that makes your sister (or reasonable facsimile) gifted.

First 4 to enter get a copy.

Contest ends Sunday, January 11th. Entries must include mailing address (Canada or US only, no post office boxes, please).


Mental P Mama said...

YAY! I would love it! Your review of it reminds me of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury--one of my all-time favorites!

Mental P Mama said...

Sorry--I don't have a full sister, but I have two half sisters who were a wonderful blessing. One died in 2003, and I miss her so much. It was waaaaay too soon.

Baroness von B said...

Countess MPM: The best ones always seem to slip away before we're through basking in their presence. Not fair at all.

As for The Sound and the Fury, I haven't read it, but have seen the movie version with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.

Uh, wait...

thecountess of yy said...

I love to watch shows about siblings such as brothers and sisters. Since my brother passed away it makes me wistful for what might have been.......I watch my children and I am so grateful that they relate to each other in a healthy way. I do have a sister by choice and I believe she loves me the way a birth sister would... with my warts and all. I know I love her that way. I will email you form work as I really want that book but don't have time until I get there.

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