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A Tale of Two Sisters    by Anna Maxted order for
Tale of Two Sisters
by Anna Maxted
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Lizbet and Cassie are two sisters who are as different as night and day - one is confident and self-assured, the other insecure; one is an accomplished family lawyer, the other (despite her lack of sexiness) a sex columnist; one is in a miserable marriage, the other has an adored long-term boyfriend.

The narration volleys between Cassie and Lizbet, just as their relationship as sisters volleys between love, anger, indifference, jealousy, and every other emotion in between. While one sister was going through a crisis in her life, the other sister was experiencing a high, and then, inevitably, the tables would turn. The girls' mother, Vivica, who was primarily responsible for the dysfunction in their dysfunctional family, has always favored Cassie, but both sisters suffered the consequences, in childhood and now in adulthood. A huge family secret, of which only one sister was aware, threatens to tear them apart.

Maxted's writing is laced with humor; the family's Jewish background and the infamous Friday Night Dinners where they are forced to eat their mother's inedible food provide some of the book's funniest scenes.

The novel explores notions of what is family, the depths of motherhood, how you never outgrow your childhood, and how ineffective parenting stays with you for a lifetime. I liked the flow of the story and the storyline itself. The novel, which is full of charming Britishism, reaches a little deeper than your average chick lit, though it is still a light read.

Whenever I thought I knew where the book was going, Maxted would throw in a twist or two, particularly at the end of each chapter. I have become a new fan of Anna Maxted's.

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