Thursday, February 16, 2017

The story of four sisters and much more

The Lost Sister Laura ElliotThe Lost Sister by Laura Elliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Lost Sister caught and held me right from the beginning. So much so, having finished this remarkable book, travelled so far with the Lambert sisters since the time of their parents death in a car accident until they set out together some twenty years later to journey to New Zealand for their youngest sister's wedding, I must confess to feeling acutely lonely for them all. Rebecca, Julie and Lauren have not heard from Cathy, since she ran away from home aged fifteen. When they receive a phone call from her asking them to attend her wedding in New Zealand they are unable to refuse this olive branch and, with mixed feelings,decide to go. So many questions need answering, so many personal issues to settle.
Beautifully written with a wonderful mix of poetry, music and depth of feeling the author brings us back in time using the medium of letters from the eight year old Cathy to her dead parents - touchingly addressed to Nirvana - which allow the reader come to know the child and her older sisters,the terrible loss and upheaval they experience in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Rebecca, the eldest, takes responsibility for her younger sisters' welfare even though her actions and decisions sometimes made her unpopular with them. On arriving in New Zealand this role is still hers as she makes them keep to their tight schedule while covering huge distances of this immense country packed into the cramped quarters of a camper van. They combine travel with sightseeing and we come to know not only about the Lambert sisters and the tensions between them with past hurts and grievances sometimes bubbling to the surface, but the spectacular landscape and the fascinating ethnic lore. But this is a close loving family who have shared a lot and survived in a fashion. The darkness of the past, with its secrets and betrayal, while always in the background there, nevertheless, exists great affection between them. There are funny moments bonding them even closer - like urging each other to go with the flow and discard their bras following the example of travellers before them and to tie their bras to a fence festooned with garments of every size and colour.. Bikers arrive on the scene and Julie and Lauren rush to take cover behind the camper van. Rebecca, the only clothed one, draws the men off and makes them tea in the camper. When her sisters finally emerge they take it in good part. There are even romantic encounters on this journey that might result in worthwhile relationships and time for the sisters to explore their strengths and weaknesses and face up to certain issues. When the sisters finally reunite with Cathy at Havenswalk old memories are painfully revived and searing self-knowledge experienced. As the drama unfolds, the past revisited and painful issues faced there is the hope of better, happier times and more honest relationships between them in the future. Very enjoyable book. Highly recommend.

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