This is the engrossing, quickly-paced story of the extremely dysfunctional Ross family and the two sisters who are driven apart by volatile family dynamics and then, when tragedy strikes, rediscover themselves and each other.
Elizabeth and Joanna (Joey) Ross are sisters who have been at odds since childhood. Elizabeth is a beautiful, successful lawyer working in her father’s law firm. Joey, also a lawyer, rebels against what she sees as their father’s extremely over-bearing, controlling behavior and leaves town to make a life for herself in Montana. Their mother, Molly, is an interesting character. Basically blackmailed by Jack Ross into marriage at age seventeen, she’s become a recluse and, for various reasons, a victim of agoraphobia. She eventually sought help for her problem but she was not the only victim of her mental illness. Elizabeth is resentful that her mother was emotionally and mentally absent when she and Joey were growing up. She, however, idealizes her father, who always treated her like a princess, and is blind to his rather obvious faults. Joey, on the other hand, is very close to her mother and despises her father. Life within the Ross clan is not exactly hunky-dory to begin with but things really begin to unravel when Molly is murdered and Elizabeth is considered the number one suspect.
The Sisters is a gripping tale of life, love, and murder. Elizabeth, about to be arrested for murder, goes underground and disappears in an attempt to find the real killer. Joey returns to New York and her despised law career to help a good friend out of a very tight spot. In the process, the sisters embark on a journey of self-discovery that culminates in their eventual reconciliation. They also both find true love along the way.
While this is mostly a well-written book, the character of Elizabeth had problems this reviewer could not fully resolve. For one, she appeared to be the only one around who didn’t see, or pretended not to see, her father’s alcoholism. Whether or not the author was trying to make a point about co-dependent behavior and enabling is unclear, but it was annoying and frustrating to see Elizabeth doing both her work and his when he was too drunk to do it himself (which was most of the time). Later, when she is on the lam, Elizabeth meets a self-professed computer geek at a trendy New York City computer bar. She goes home with a virtual (no pun intended) stranger basically on the first date. This seemed out of character for the otherwise intelligent Elizabeth. Her tunnel vision about her father, her life, and her work were more noticeable than her sister’s flaws because, even though both sisters shared equal billing in the title, Elizabeth emerged as the lead character in my mind.
Both Joey and Elizabeth find their happily ever after, but it is bittersweet and tinged by what has happened to their family. This is the type of book that grows on you after you’ve read it. As I wrote my review, I realized I enjoyed it more than I had originally thought. Perhaps the same will happen to you.