Monica McInerney- The Alphabet Sisters (2004)
Bett is one of three daughters and as the middle child has always felt like a bit of an outsider compared to her older, thinner and talented sister Anna and her younger, prettier and self-absorbed sister Carrie. When Bett meets Matthew and they become engaged to be married, she finally can see her life panning out the way she had always hoped but never expected to achieve. Until she introduces Matthew to Carrie. To Bett’s dismay, they fall in love and end up getting married- leaving heartbroken Bett to turn her back on her family and live abroad for three years. Despite enjoying the initial independence that each of them experience when they are freed from sisterly rivalry they soon learn that their lives are not quite the same when their trio is disjointed.
During their childhood, the sisters were part of a singing group- The Alphabet Sisters- with plenty of encouragements from their grandmother Lola. They travelled the countryside delivering songs in matching outfits. Always together and moving around with their family in the motel business the sisters had strong ties to their family.
When cheeky grandmother Lola announces her eightieth birthday party in Clare Valley, Adelaide and asserts that Anna, Bett and Carrie must attend the sisters are faced with a reluctant reunion following three years of no contact. Each has struggled without the support of each other and their pride has kept their secrets at bay. What was meant to be a short visit to wish their grandmother a happy birthday, turns into a much longer stay and the sisters are forced to face the past in order to move on with their future.
It may sound cliché to say that I laughed and cried throughout this story, but I am being truly honest! Considering I do most of my reading on the train to and from work… I was often faced with strange looks from strangers nearby. Thankfully sunglasses are a good cover up for tears!
I really recommend you pick up one of her novels and have a read because you won’t be disappointed. Her wit and genuine character development with a backdrop setting of a charming Australian country town- Monica McInerney certainly keeps you entertained. She is quickly becoming one of my favourite Australian authors.