The Sister’s Song, Louise Allan – A Book Review

There are some women not meant to have children,
and there are others born to do nothing else

Ida Bushell, 1947

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The Sister’s Song is the first novel from West Australian based Author, Louise Allan. With its beautiful cover it perfectly sets the scene of mid-century Australia. It’s a cover that made me want to read it; always an added bonus when that happens.

Set in Tasmania, it follows the lives of two sisters – Ida and Nora and the paths their lives take from the moment a family tragedy occurs, forcing them to leave the home they love so much, in the shade of the mountain of Ben Craeg.

For all women were girls once,
with dreams of their own

Ida wants for a simple life, caring for others and most of all to be able to care for her own family.  A task that doesn’t go according to plan, through no fault of her own.

Nora is an incredibly gifted musician, and wants nothing more than to follow her dream and puruse a career in Opera.  However while pursuing her passion, her plans also come  unstuck and, due to the the times in which they live, means she is required to act out of duty to her reputation.

This sets the sisters on a winding path through their lives where they come together or are torn apart trying to fathom what has happened to their lives, and their dreams, how their paths have taken these unexpected turns.

What struck me most about this book was the way Allan has given us the snapshots of the important moment in their lives, all through the view point of Ida.  You really feel like a friend telling you what has happend in their lives.  Her beautiful literary descriptions really cement you in the time and place, I was taken back to so many moments of my own country uprbringing; particularly the description of Nora’s new house.  I could see our own new house from when I was a small child.

The story is incredibly evocative, and Allan manages to beautifully represent each generation and their rules and codes of what is ‘proper’ and ‘acceptable’ and is, in many generations of Australian families a centrepoint for their conflicts.  She also manages to capture the sorrow of repeated history, a central theme of the book.

I highly recommend this book, it’s an outstanding debut novel.  You will however, need some tissues.

 

The Sisters’ Song
by Louise Allan
Published by Allen & Unwin
on January 1st 2018
Source: Allen & Unwin
Buy on Amazon
Genres: Women’s Fiction
ISBN: 9781760296315
Pages: 288

**For full disclosure, I was sent a readers copy of the book by Allen & Unwin Publishers

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