Sibling rivalry and sisterly devotion mix it up in South Australia—in McInerney’s American debut.
When they were children dressed in matching costumes, Anna, Bett and Carrie sang together as the Alphabet Sisters. But three years ago, after Carrie and Matt, Bett’s fiancé, announced they’d fallen in love, long-simmering resentments erupted into a major feud among all three sisters. The oldest, Anna, retreated to her husband, her daughter and a career doing voice-over commercials in Sydney. After marrying Matt, a vet in training, Carrie, the youngest, continued to work at the family motel. Bett ran away to London, where she’s been writing promos for a music company. Now the girls’ grandmother Lola, who watched over them growing up while their parents worked, is about to celebrate her 80th birthday and they’re invited to the party back home in the Clare Valley, South Australia. They each arrive, defensive of their secret hurts: Anna, whose husband is having an affair, has been overly protective of her seven-year-old daughter since a dog attack scarred the little girl’s face; Carrie and Matt have drifted into an unhappy separation; Bett, miserably alone in England, can’t admit that she never really loved Matt. Soon, Lola is manipulating the three women into togetherness, getting them to produce a musical she has written commemorating General MacArthur’s visit during WWII. Laughter and tears, revelations and explanations, bring the sisters back to their old closeness. But then comes the tear-jerking twist: Anna, who has found a new love, is diagnosed with advanced cancer. Can the whole family, including both Anna’s lover and her estranged husband, unite to make Anna’s last days as pleasant as possible?
In the tradition of Binchy and McMurtry, Australian author McInerny manipulates plot- and heart-strings unapologetically.