Sisters by Lily Tuck is called a novel on the back cover but it is more of a novella – 152 well spaced pages. This makes for a quick read if you are looking for one.
The quote at the front by Christopher Nicholson says “First and second wives are like sisters”. I was puzzled by this as this is not my experience of subsequent wives and sisters, the former mostly being at odds and the latter often being close. Their respective histories are quite different, sisters having shared theirs from birth or almost, rather than the distant relationship that starts much later in life. The first line is then “We are not related – not remotely”. I read on to see how this might play out.
The book is from the perspective of the second wife who seemed at the start to be obsessed, without reason, about the first wife and her relationship with their husband. That was until she said he had called out her name while they were making love. He had children with his first wife who he spends a lot of time with, but does not include his second wife. They have their shared experiences that they discuss around her not realising she feels excluded. Her insecurity is clear but is exacerbated by the underlying messages she is given about her place in the family.
In this short piece Tuck is able to convey much about this situation which is common place these days. Men do the second round and the ramifications for all of them can be difficult, with secrets, deceit, uncertainty and self-doubt and this is all portrayed with sensitivity and insight.