Guest Editor, Samantha Singer
“A sister is for life: your best friend or your worst enemy…she\’s the one you\’re compared to and the one you compete with… In this entertaining collection of anecdotes there are sisters ranging from the loving Brontes to the…sisters of Lenin and Hitler”
Luisa Dillner, author of The Complete Book of Mothers-in-Law, and columnist for the Guardian puts together a beautiful assortment of sisterly stories; looking at sisters as rivals, fairy-tale sisters, criminal sisters and how to be a good sister, among many other things.
Never close with my own sister, I found Luisa Dillner\’s The Complete Book of Sisters truly lovely. Dillner is an engaging writer who comes across as both kind and witty. She opens the book with a personal touch, talking about her own family and the relationship she had with her brother. Throughout the book she details the various relationships between real and fictional sisters through history, including small chapters written by famous sisters. Even if you are unaware of whom these women were their stories are no less enchanting.
Dillner takes a global approach talking about how sisters were brought together and separated; by wars, competition and families; and in Australia, during the Stolen Generations.
Dillner not only looks at how the roles of sisters have changed throughout history, but also at the timeless issues that lie between sisters. The positive and negative elements of sibling rivalry are looked at, as is the difference between the relationship of unmarried sisters to that of married sisters.
I was particularly moved by one of the stories in which a younger sister murdered her elder sister\’s fiancÃ© out of jealously and then remained single herself for the rest of her life, vowing to stay by her elder sister\’s side. When the younger sister was on her death bed, she told her sister the awful truth and begged for forgiveness. It was given.
Not all of Dillner\’s tales are so dark though. She examines the relationships between popular women such as Carly Simon and her sister, and the Williams sisters, of which there were five in total.
The book is truly beautiful and I couldn\’t help but smile as I read through the pages and learned so much from all these women. It did not matter if they were close or distant in nature or in geographical means; they all played such important roles within each other\’s lives.
I recommend this book for any female, whether she has sisters, is a sister or is an only child. It is the type of book that you don\’t have to read in one go and perhaps is better for picking up every so often to read a few chapters. There is no set sequence and one chapter does not necessarily lead on from the previous. For this reason, you may become tired of reading it as nothing â€˜happens\’ as such. This is the point at which you set it down in order to pick it up days, weeks, months, years later.
Luisa Dillner has does a great job with this one.
Available now:Â Allen & Unwin RRP$29.99