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The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Cover of the book The Good Sister by author Sally Hepworth featuring a pink paper cut out of two sisters holding a bunch of flowers against a bright blue background. Image is to accompany the book review by The Reading Edit on the same page.

Australian author, Sally Hepworth, brings us her sixth book just in time for the summer holidays. ‘The Good Sister’ is the perfect holiday read with a captivating story, a cracking pace, lovable characters, humour, suspense, plenty of twists, drama and a satisfying ending.

The story revolves around twin sisters, Rose and Fern, and alternates between each of their perspectives and between their childhood and the present.

Fern is portrayed so wonderfully, I loved her right from the start. She is a librarian and loves her job at the local library. She avoids loud noises, bright lights, crowds and anyone looking for help with the photocopier. Fern’s interactions with library visitors and staff are delightful and bring much warmth and humour to the story. She has dinner three nights a week with her twin sister, Rose.

Rose has always looked out for Fern and protected her. The sisters are very close, bound together as twins and by shared secrets from their childhood. Early in the book, the reader learns that there was a tragic event that occurred when the girls were 12. As a result, Fern has never been able to fully trust herself, often questioning her memory and doubting her capabilities. Fern relies on Rose, just as she does her strict daily routine.

Rose is married, however her husband has recently left her and she remains desperate to have a baby. Fern sees this as an opportunity to repay Rose for all that she has done for her, however unforeseen events soon threaten to disrupt Fern’s carefully structured life and reveal deep secrets from their past.

‘The Good Sister‘ is a compelling story of family, love and the ties that bind us. It is part mystery, part romance, part thriller and part domestic drama. There are a lot of elements to this story, but the author weaves them all together so seamlessly and by doing so, creates a story that is highly engaging and addictive. This was my first Sally Hepworth novel. I enjoyed it so much, it definitely won’t be my last.

Published 2020 by Pan Macmillan Australia; 328 pages.

Funny, Heart-warming and Utterly Unpredictable

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Cover of the book Anxious People by Fredrik Backman featuring a very anxious looking man holding a sign featuring the titleand author's name against a light blue background. Image is to accompany the book review on the same page.

As the title suggests, this is a book about a group of anxious people. 

There is a would-be bank robber, who has made a terrible mistake, and a group of people at an apartment viewing who suddenly find themselves in a hostage situation. 

And they are the worst hostages ever! Not even slightly threatened by the would-be bank robber, the hostages are drinking wine in the closet and are intent on ordering free pizzas from the police; all the while opening up about themselves to each other, revealing their own, individual insecurities and anxieties.

I loved the characterisation in this book. There are ten characters, which is a lot, but it’s not hard to follow because of the way it’s written and the fact that each of the characters are so unique. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between the father and son police officers, tasked with rescuing the hostages and solving the case before a special investigative team from Stockholm are sent to take charge. 

Ultimately, ‘Anxious People‘ is a book about being human. And it’s a reminder to the reader that you never really know what is going on in someone else’s life, or why they act or behave the way that they do. Everyone is just trying to do their best every day.

Whilst ‘Anxious People‘ deals with some pretty serious subjects and is a very heart-warming read, it is also very funny! It reminded me of the movie, ‘Death at a Funeral’; similar in that there is an underlying hilarity and quirkiness which makes it very entertaining, without taking away from the seriousness of the issues raised.

This book made me laugh out loud, at times catching me so unaware and being so utterly ridiculous, almost slapstick, that I could actually imagine this book as a stage show. If it was a stage show instead of a book, I think that at the end of the performance you’d leave the theatre having had a really good laugh, perhaps shed a tear of two and think, “Well, that was a really good night out“.

Published 2019 by Penguin Random House, 336 pages.