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The Sweeney Sisters    by Lian Dolan order for
Sweeney Sisters
by Lian Dolan
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Being the daughters of a famous author has sometimes been a problem for the three Sweeney sisters. Before their mother Maeve died of cancer when the two older girls were teenagers, she was able to shield them somewhat from the vagaries of living with their self-absorbed father, William Sweeney. Julia, the housekeeper who was hired to help out after Maeve got sick, was a warm comforting presence also, even though she was no substitute for their mother. She continued to work for William after the girls left home.

Maggie and Tricia got as far away from their father as they could once they grew up, but the oldest sister Liza married a local boy and stayed nearby. Liza is at work in her art gallery when she gets a phone call from Julia after William died unexpectedly in the night of a heart attack. She calls her sisters - Maggie, two years younger, who is an artist whom Liza has tried to encourage and help; and Tricia, five years younger, who is an up and coming attorney working in a New York City law firm.

Personality differences are well delineated so the reader easily recognizes which sister is speaking, and the story is told from each point of view. Liza is a well-organized worrier, who takes care of everyone. Maggie is a free spirit, going with the flow and doing what she wants to do. She has had a succession of good-looking boyfriends and is presently dating a much younger man who works in a restaurant. She has promised some paintings to Liza to be sold in the art gallery, but isn't in any hurry to finish them. When she sees that her sister is trying to reach her on her cell phone, she doesn't even answer until several calls have come one right after another.

Tricia has the most education and is a smart lawyer who is extremely ambitious. But when she gets the call from Liza, she immediately requests a leave of absence from her job because she knows that the death of the famous William Sweeney is going to be a big deal. Their father's lawyer Cap tells them that there's not much money in the estate, and a big advance had been paid to William for his memoir. The memoir is no longer on his computer, and if it isn't found in the near future, the heirs will owe a large amount of money to the publisher. Maggie and Tricia move into the family home to help Liza with cleaning out the house and finding this missing manuscript.

These Sweeney girls are unaware that there is a fourth sister, who was the product of an extramarital relationship between their father and a next-door neighbor. Serena Tucker shows up uninvited at William's funeral, and Liza thinks she looks familiar but just can't place her. Cap tells them about her when he meets with them after the funeral, and they are shocked and prepared to dislike this interloper whom they never knew existed and who was the result of a relationship that appalls them because of what it meant for their beloved mother.

The Sweeney Sisters is an interesting, absorbing novel. The four women work through all of the problems that their new reality presents and find strengths in themselves that they didn't know they possessed. The initial closeness among the daughters who grew up together helps them deal with all of the new difficulties caused by their father's death and the sudden appearance of yet another sister. Serena's wild card addition adds mystery and humor to the story.

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