Thank you so much for taking the time to read Sister, Sister and I do hope you enjoyed it.
I’ve always been fascinated by the family dynamics and not only how diverse they today but also the diversity within each unit. Coming from a family of four children and having four children myself, I have experienced and witnessed how just one person can change the dynamics simply by walking into the room. Everyone may have been brought up by the same parents and to all intents and purposes received the same upbringing, yet their own particular personalities and sense of what’s right and what’s wrong can’t help but come through. This can manifest itself in some sort of unseen undercurrent that is capable of changing the rhythm of the room, whether it be for the better or worse.
I wanted to bring this element into the story of Clare and Alice and show how Alice/Martha’s arrival changed Clare’s sense of her own being and position within the family and how this impacted on her relationship with her husband and mother.
I also wanted to look at preconceived ideas, or in the case of Clare and Marion, the fairy-tale ending they thought they would have once Alice came home. Clare, in particular, had a hard time matching her expectations with the reality of the situation and the rawness of her own emotions which surfaced. Of course, Clare had good reason to feel a sense of disparity but if Alice had really come home, would she automatically feel the love she expected she would? Marion was blinded to any uncertainties she might have had because she so wanted Alice home, not least to relieve her own guilt for letting her daughter go in the first place.
Some of these questions I have used as prompts in the book club question section
Book Club Questions
- Why was Marion so eager to accept Alice into the family? What emotions and thoughts affected her decision?
- Is the bond between a mother and daughter/sister and sister strong enough to withstand a separation of twenty years?
- If a stranger came into your life purporting to be your long-lost sister, how would you react?
- Clare was a successful career woman, while Luke was the stay-at-home parent. Do you think it makes a difference to the child who their prime-carer is?
- Do you think mothers experience more guilt towards their children when the work full-time than the father does?
- Do you think grand-parents make as good carers for their grandchildren as the parents do? Does the child really mind who looks after them, as long as they are cared for and loved?
- Do you think Clare was right not to tell Luke about the final email from Tom and the consequences? Is this fair to Luke and, indeed, to Hannah?
- In the end, do you think Martha was sorry for her deception?
- How do you think Marion and Clare will feel going forwards knowing they will never be reunited with Alice?