Between Sisters [review]

Between Sisters - Cathy Kelly

[Synopsis]

Cassie has spent her married life doing everything right – making sure her children have the perfect life, being a devoted wife to her husband and a dutiful daughter-in-law to his mother, even when her patience has been tested. Although it has left her so exhausted that ‘wine o’clock’ comes a little earlier each afternoon. But she wouldn’t change a thing, she’s certain, until temptation comes her way…
Her sister Coco runs a vintage dress shop and sure, she’s shied away from commitment over the years. It’s just that Coco believes men complicate things more than necessary, and she’s got enough to contend with looking after her business and her staff, who seem to rely on her more and more for relationship advice. But who is she to give advice, when her own life is so simple?
Watching over them is grandmother Pearl, tucked away in her little house in Delaney Square with her chickens, busy with her poker club and a secret lover. But something is keeping her awake at night. Was she right to do what she did all those years ago? Surely, if she were right, she wouldn’t be thinking about it so often now…?
And then there’s Elsa, the polished face of daytime TV, who’s battled demons of her own in the past and come out on top. Now Elsa faces one final battle – but this one will require more bravery than anything that’s come before.

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[My Review]

I haven’t read any books by this author before, but have heard good things, so I was looking forward to reading Between Sisters.

This is a really lovely story about a family – well, about a whole community really – and their relationships with various members of the Reynolds family. There’s sisters Cassie and Coco, who have never quite got over their mother walking out on them, and their grandmother Pearl, who was like a surrogate mother to them. Cassie has a family of her own now, with its own problems, whilst Coco has never quite got over an ex boyfriend. There’s also Phoebe, an art student who’s just moved to the area, and Elsa, a TV presenter in London.

The whole book revolves around fairly normal family problems and everyday life. Yes, there are some more unusual incidents which add a bit more excitement to the narrative, but overall you can imagine most of the story actually happening to people you know. It’s a reflection on real life, and that’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed this novel – it feels quite real.

The characters also feel authentic, in their own ways – of course, some are much less likeable than others, and some you know mean well but can be a bit clueless (Shay, I’m looking at you!) but it’s not a black-and-white, “you’re-a-bad-person-and-you’re-not”situation. In real life there are few people, in my opinion, who are truly horrible; most people are just a little lost or haven’t had the best upbringing, so I hate it in books when the author makes out that one person is the ‘baddie’ (gritty crime novels the exception). Luckily, Cathy Kelly seems to be really skilled at creating great characters that you want to find it more about. I also loved that there were different strands and characters that came together at the end – I find it rather satisfying when this happens and enjoy being a little surprised sometimes!

I wouldn’t say this is a fluffy, lighthearted read; nor would I categorise it as ‘chick-lit’ (nowadays a seemingly hated name for a genre, apparently!). This is more serious at times and, though it does have many lighthearted moments, overall it conveys a deeper feeling within its pages. There are some emotional points and there are also times when I felt really irritated with characters and the way they were behaving / reacting – but hey, that’s quite like real life, isn’t it?

[Rating: 4/5]

* Many thanks to Orion and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review *

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