A tale of two angry sisters, linked by their traumatic rural- Texas childhood, divided by their wildly divergent ways of coping with their past--slyly revealed by a masterful first novelist and native Texan. Claire Louise was the pretty one in the Richards family-- blond, curvaceous, a cheerleader at the local high school in Molly's Point--but Macy Rose, the brown-haired, sour-faced younger sister, had the brains. Though it was Macy who remained on the farm to care for the girls' dour father, helpless mother and stoic grandmother when Claire ran off to Louisiana with her high-school- dropout boyfriend, their parents hardly noticed Macy in their anxiety over what darling Claire Louise was up to. When Claire returns ten years later, two kids in tow, spouting fictional tales of a glamorous life in New York City, a marital tragedy and a determination to make good in Molly's Point by devoting herself to her poor dependent parents, Macy tries to escape the reappearance of her sister through a marriage to a Houston psychologist--but Macy's own hidden resentments concerning her family prove too deep to ignore. The sisters' relationship develops into an escalating rivalry, first over their parents' favor and then, after their deaths, over their wills, until it ends in the raising of barbed- wire fences, the destruction of both sisters' marriages and the neglect and alienation of their children. It takes years for Macy finally to confront the real reason for such passion--the dark secret of her father's abuse that, along with the sisters' refusal to acknowledge it, nearly demolished both their lives. Arnold's remarkable ear for Texan dialogue and her sense for the psychological accuracy captivate the reader as her mystery unfolds, while her straight-faced humor surprises and entertains. An impressively controlled first effort.