Our unnamed narrator, the second wife of a successful Wall Street bond trader, is consumed with jealously for the first wife – ‘she’ – in this short novel, where the classic direction of jealousy is reversed. She is composed, blonde, tall and ‘lovely’, a talented musician with two exceptionally bright kids. ‘I’ is everything she’s not. A stirring portrayal of jealousy, emotional neglect and obsession, easily read in one sitting.
The husband, unnamed as well, remains a bit of an enigma, all we know is that he plays tennis with a friend our narrator has never met, he fails to come home on her birthday, and that he sometimes cries out the name of his ex-wife when they have sex. A jerk, in other words.
Our emotionally starved narrator becomes obsessed with the ex-wife, seeking her out in her new flat, calling her from untraceable phones. She tries hard to establish good relationships with her step children who never become more than ‘his son’ and ‘his daughter’. Is it to create the illusion of a family life or to milk them of information about the ex-wife?
This issue of the reliability of the narrator hangs over this novel. Who’s the crazy one here? The ending is either the ultimate calculated revenge or an act of desperate loneliness. Tuck leaves that unsaid.
Sisters has a lot in common with Jenny Offili’s Dept. of Speculation, stylistically, short snippets of information, and an almost claustrophobic atmosphere. Elena Ferrante’s gripping The Days of Abandonment also springs to mind. If you enjoyed any of those books, this will be for you.
Sisters is published by Text Publishing, 156 pages.