Note from Estelle: Hopefully you checked out yesterday’s review of The Look by Sophia Bennett, which was released in the United States on March 1, 2013. I can confidently say it was one of my favorite reads of 2013 so far. Took me by complete surprise. Today I hand it over to the author who discusses her favorite literary sisters! What a fun topic!
The Look is about Ava and Ted – two sisters who get just about the best news and the worst news a girl can imagine.
I didn’t have a sister myself, but I was close to my brother. Now I have two sons and two stepdaughters, and I love watching the relationships between them. Big families rock! However, while I was growing up, I had to make do with sisters in books. Here are some of my favourites:
Cassandra and Rose Mortmain in I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea cosy.”
So those are the opening lines and I’m already in love with Cassandra Mortmain. She is such a clear-eyed, unromantic observer of the world around her, but that world – a ruined castle, a father who’s a struggling writer, a beautiful sister, a visiting American family with two gorgeous sons – can’t help but be romantic.
The book is like a poem to a lost England, which, written in the 1940s from Hollywood, is sort of what it was. Dodie Smith also wrote 101 Dalmatians. Also a classic, but very different! (I borrowed bits of Cruella de Vil for a character of mine in The Look.)
The Bennet girls in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
How could I not include the Bennet girls? We almost share the same surname, after all. Every time I read it, I love to love Lizzie and Jane, get exasperated by Mary (oh God, I think I’m a bit of a Mary sometimes), and despair at Catherine and Lydia.
The BBC is about to make a TV series about what happens six years later, when one of the characters gets murdered. (I’m not going to say who, but he so deserves it.) Apparently Clare Danes is one of the people up for Lizzie. That I would have to see.
The March sisters in Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott
No need to introduce them. You know them; you love them too. If you ever wanted to be a writer, you probably pictured yourself as Jo. Although I have to say her early success made it look much easier than it turned out to be for me, or most people. No matter. I forgive her. And I still envy her hair.
Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil in Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
I don’t know if it’s the same sort of classic in the US that it is in the UK, but even though it’s older than our grandparents, our kids still read Ballet Shoes. I adored the story of three girls with different talents and ambitions (and necklaces – I was very jewelry-conscious when I was a young reader).
My favourite sister was Posy, the ballet-made genius, who remembered things with her feet. But I loved actress Pauline and engineer Petrova too, and they way they felt that they had only each other to rely on if they wanted to solve their problems. Emma Watson played Pauline in the most recent TV series of the book, by the way.
My first book, Threads (Sequins Secrets and Silver Linings in the US) was partly inspired by Ballet Shoes. Even so, I have to admit I only learned to spell Noel Streatfeild’s surname about a year ago. Check it out. Trickier than it looks.
The Chocolate Box girls by Cathy Cassidy
Cathy is a wonderful writer friend of mine, and a literary rock star for Middle Grade readers in the UK. Her latest series is about the Tanberry sisters, who become a family when Cherry’s dad moves in with the mother of Skye, Summer, Coco and Honey. They all live in a big, rambling house by the sea in Somerset, and the mum and dad are starting a luxury chocolate making business together. Yes!
Each girl has her own problems, hobbies, passions, love interest and charm. As soon as you read them, you feel a part of the family – protective of Cherry, worried for Honey. They’re on their way to becoming a new classic, and the series isn’t even finished yet!
Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares
OK, so they’re not officially sisters, they’re a sisterhood, but that’s good enough for me. I came late to the adventures of Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget, but I immediately felt at home. I love the way the stories deal with serious issues like terminal illness, losing your virginity, and other serious issues, like unbreakable friendships and denim jeans that really, really fit. That’s the kind of balance I try to create in my own stories. When I’m struggling a bit, I get Ann Brashares off the shelf and think, ‘Oh, that’s how you do it.’
Thanks Sophia! Be sure to check out Sophia’s website to find out more about her writing and books!
The publisher was nice enough to offer up a finished copy of The Look for a giveaway, so be sure to enter!
What is THE LOOK about? The world becomes a confusing place for Ted when she finds out her fab-looking older sister, Ava, has cancer and must undergo treatment, and she (the odd looking one) is discovered by a modeling agency. Like always, Ava can convince her sister to do anything and Ted decides to take a chance on the modeling thing to raise Ava’s spirits. But the deeper Ted gets into this world, the more she learns about herself, her relationship with her family, and what she really wants. (EMH)