Source: a review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
Remember how I decided to quit the Fool’s Gold books? That decision stands, but Ms. Mallery’s Women’s Fiction novels are a different story altogether. I really enjoyed the previous two and I had high hopes for this one, and although things were a bit touch and go there for a second, overall I enjoyed it a lot.
Three Sisters is the nickname of three neighboring houses. You can probably guess that three houses means that we get three main characters, each quite different from the other and with a unique set of problems to solve.
The first house is in shambles and was recently acquired by Andi, whose fiancé left her at the altar. Brokenhearted and humiliated, she decided to take all her money, move to the island, buy the practice from the local pediatrician and restore the dilapidated house. But unlike what the blurb says, Andi has her act together and only needs a bit of courage to rebuild her life, her new home and maybe her love life.
Next we have the house that belongs to Deanna. She is perfect and wants everyone to know and notice it: her house is gorgeous, her daughters beautiful and her husband is having an affair. Well, that’s not entirely true, but Deanna’s perfection doesn’t reflect the reality that’s her life, her relationship with her family and her own mental health.
Finally we have Boston’s house. This one is all quirky just like its owner. Boston married the love of her life, but tragedy brought a tremendous grief that they don’t know how to deal with and is destroying their relationship.
It doesn’t get more Women’s Fiction than that.
Andi’s part of the story is mostly a Romance. Someone breaks her heart which causes her to realize she isn’t happy with her life, so she leaves the big city for the small town and finds love in the arms of the hunky contractor remodeling her new house. This means that she’s also the character in charge of being the voice of reason and bringing the group together. It was the least interesting heroine of the bunch, but considering how angsty and convoluted the other two stories were, I was glad to get a respite with Andi.
Boston’s story was the saddest, mostly because of the circumstances, and I liked that she and her husband had to work at getting better, both as individuals and as a couple. They were very sympathetic, likeable characters, and even though I can’t say that I enjoyed their story, I was very glad to see them overcome the obstacles.
I'm leaving Deanna’s story for last, because this was both the most interesting and the most infuriating of the three.
Deanna is all about looking perfect -- her house, her family and her life all must appear golden. She’s so obsessed with perfection that she’s almost unrecognizable from the woman her husband marries. Her daughters hate and are afraid of her, and her husband has become distant. Everything that comes out of her mouth is criticisms. And when the book starts, she confronts her husband with what she thinks is proof of his infidelity, but when he tells her that no, he’s not cheating, but that he’s thinking of leaving her because he can’t stand her, she breaks.
Sounds like an awful woman, right? She isn’t. And it broke my heart to read her story and to see her portrayed as the one and only culprit of what was going on with her family and marriage.
This is a woman who clearly has psychological issues that go as far back as her childhood (something we learn later in the story when we get a glimpse into her past) and that now have been exacerbated and transformed into what looks like OCD. And she’s completely and utterly alone.
Now, I’m not saying that she’s without fault, but the story makes it look as if she’s the only one to blame. The husband gives her an ultimatum and that’s it. She has to work at it alone. And she does it; she goes to therapy and finds friendship in the two other women of the story. But I thought it was a twisted message to send. This woman almost crumbles under the pressure produced by trauma, social conventions and expectations, but because she turns into an unbearable bitch, she doesn’t get any type of compassion --or even the benefit of the doubt-- from anyone, but especially from the man who’s been enjoying the life she’s helped create. I liked that she finds friendship and the inner strength to get help, but I hated seeing her portrayed as the villain. It felt judgmental and wrong.
The best part of the book is that it revolves around the friendship that slowly develops between the three women, and that their friendship is what gives them the strength to move forward and heal. It’s also readable, melodramatic, sappy and very entertaining.
Before I wrap this up, Three Sister is the second book in the Blackberry Island series (I reviewed the first book here) but they stand alone perfectly well.
Review by Brie
After Andi Gordon is jilted at the altar, she makes the most impetuous decision of her life – buying one of the famed Three Sisters Queen Anne houses on Blackberry Island. Now the proud-ish owner of the ugly duckling of the trio, she plans to open her own pediatric office on the first floor, just as soon as her hunky contractor completes the work. Andi's new future may be coming together, but the truth is she's just as badly in need of a major renovation as her house.
When Deanna Phillips confronts her husband about a suspected affair, she opens up a Pandora's Box of unhappiness. And he claims that she is the problem. The terrible thing is, he's right. In her quest to be the perfect woman, she's lost herself, and she's in danger of losing her entire family if things don't change.Next door, artist Boston King thought she and her college sweetheart would be married forever. Their passion for one other has always seemed indestructible. But after tragedy tears them apart, she's not so sure. Now it's time for them to move forward, with or without one another.Thrown together by fate and geography, and bound by the strongest of friendships, these three women will discover what they're really made of: laughter, tears, love and all.
Three Sisters (Blackberry Island) by Susan Mallery
Harlequin Mira. February 26, 2013.