The Pretty One: A Novel About Sisters
There is always plenty of material to be had when you are writing about the complicated relationships that siblings can have. All three of the Hellinger sisters have had achievements in various forms in their lives and while they see each other frequently, they don’t seem to really like each other very much. We are introduced to Pia first, whose story seems to be the most prominent for most of the book. Her trip to a New Year’s brunch gives the reader a small background into her life and into her relationship with her two other sisters. Although a lot is made of their labels (the pretty one, the political one and the perfect one) and how their mother was guilty of thrusting these roles upon them, I never felt like that idea was fully developed in the writing. Each seems to be trapped in their own hellish existences as they approached middle age and faced individual crises while side-eying each other and feeling competitive.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the reality of what the sisters faced in their lives. I actually thought that the author did a good job of getting into their respective heads and showing us their inner turmoil. However, it was a barrage of negativity without any way to create empathy. The sisters seemed to have no redeeming qualities and, quite frankly, I found them all to be unpleasant. I didn’t care what happened to them because they were so unlikable to me. The structure of the story was a bit choppy and there was a storyline that was introduced and dropped, which seemed really odd to me. It was almost as if it was too much to keep up with all three sisters, so we didn’t get a complete picture of any of them. Although I was intrigued by the idea and the synopsis, this ended up being a book that didn’t speak to me.
I received this galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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