A bittersweet, charmingly offbeat debut introduces spinster sisters Milly and Twiss looking back on a life of complicated emotions and early heartbreak.
Rasmussen strikes an appealing tragicomic tone in her flashback-punctuated portrait of the elderly sisters who have devoted their lives to saving birds. Children of mismatched parents—a wealthy mother who gave up her inheritance to marry (for love) a man whose only skill was his graceful golf swing—beautiful Milly and tomboyish Twiss have spent their lives in rural Spring Green, Wis., among characters like Father Rice, who confounds his congregation one Sunday by questioning God’s existence and announcing his yearning “to drink a margarita and sleep with a Mexican woman.” As children, Milly dreamed of a husband and family, possibly via a relationship with local boy Asa, shy and quiet like her, while Twiss planned on being a scientist or explorer. But after the Accident that deprives their father of his golf skills and the extended visit of Cousin Bett, who rescues Milly from drowning and offers Twiss a surprising insight into herself, the future is set on different tracks. While the climax doesn’t ring true, it also doesn’t diminish the warmth and originality of Rasmussen’s voice.
A good-natured, leisurely, sometimes fanciful but fresh first work.