Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE PRETTY ONE by Lucinda Rosenfeld

THE PRETTY ONE

By Lucinda Rosenfeld

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-316-21355-4
Publisher: Little, Brown

A sly novel about competition, jealousy and love as experienced by three sisters in New York.

Imperia, Olympia and Augusta are not only saddled with their mother’s obsession with ancient Greece, they are also victims of her penchant for criticism and categorization. Oldest Perri is the perfect one and has happily turned her OCD tendencies into a thriving organizing (of closets and cupboards) empire. Youngest Gus is the compassionate one; as a teen, she championed for the impoverished of Central America, and now she is an attorney championing abused women in the Bronx. Olympia is in the middle, and she is the pretty one, the flaky one, the artsy one, the one with a string of bad relationships, a lackluster career at a small museum and conflicted feelings about the anonymous sperm donor who produced her 3-year-old daughter, Lola. Rosenfeld’s fourth novel is slight on plot and long on character, and much of the novel’s pleasure comes from the complicated relationship the three sisters have with one another. They speak daily and argue just as often, but they couldn’t imagine life without the sister-mirror. But things do happen: In the throes of a mini-nervous breakdown, Perri leaves her husband to rendezvous with an old college boyfriend in Miami. Gus is shocked to have fallen hard for Perri’s brother-in-law; first because he’s a flaky ski bum, second because she’s a lesbian. Olympia pines for the one who got away, a married man with a heart of gold. But these are trivialities compared to the bomb dropped on the sisters’ parents. One morning, Jennifer Yu—a beautiful pediatric oncologist—shows up introducing herself as the long-lost Hellinger sister. It appears that their impossibly geeky father, Bob, had a brief premarital liaison while working at Los Alamos, and now Jennifer is revealed as the new, and frankly superior, oldest sister. Old jealousies threaten to tear the sisters apart.

A witty character study of that contentious organism: sisterhood.