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The Secret Sisters: A Novel
     

The Secret Sisters: A Novel

3.2 20
by Joni Rodgers
 

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Exploring the timeless themes of family, self, misfortune, and hope that have made the novels of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller bestsellers, Joni Rodgers's moving and powerful tale tells the story of three women bound together by loss and set free by love.

Pia feels the walls of her life closing in around her, until she discovers a strangely sensual world that

Overview

Exploring the timeless themes of family, self, misfortune, and hope that have made the novels of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller bestsellers, Joni Rodgers's moving and powerful tale tells the story of three women bound together by loss and set free by love.

Pia feels the walls of her life closing in around her, until she discovers a strangely sensual world that leads her to a new existence.

Lily, Pia's brash, tough-talking sister, makes a tragic mistake that leaves her incarcerated, body and soul. But when she finds the last thing she expects—love—she is at last able to face the past.

Beth, married to Pia and Lily's brother, has never been able to admit her own failure as a mother. Finally forced to confront a tragedy of her own making, she discovers that the truth can set her free.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rodgers's somber novel (following her memoir Bald in the Land of Big Hair), weaves a tapestry of three Houston women's lives, each touched by bereavement. Pia, a high-powered career woman and mother of grown twin sons, unravels after the unexpected death of her husband, Edgar, on the night of December 31, 2000. Though she remarries a few years later, she suffers debilitating agoraphobia and severs herself from human connection except for the occasional phone call to her incarcerated sister, Lily. Serving a seven-year sentence for the manslaughter of her five-year-old niece, Easter, in a drunk driving accident, Lily struggles to accept responsibility for the child's death. Rodgers crafts Lily's stark, stripped-down narrative from journal entries, transcriptions of her phone conversations and quotes from the books she reads in the prison library. Beth, Easter's grieving mother and a less fully realized character than her sisters-in-law Lily and Pia, renders her world in equally bleak terms-"good days" or "not good days," a conceit that tires quickly. Rodgers is at her best when she choreographs an intersection of the three narratives, as when Beth finds Pia bloodied in her bathtub from a suicide attempt. It is in these interstices that the story delivers and "the secret sisters" attempt to resurrect their lives. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A drunk-driving accident has dire ramifications for a tight-knit family. Rodgers's third novel (Bald in the Land of Big Hair, 2001, etc.) is told in alternating chapters from the points of view of sisters Pia and Lily and their sister-in-law Beth. All three are self-centered and savor wallowing in grief. Despite the gut-wrenching losses they suffer, these women remain remarkably shallow and unenlightened. Pia's husband collapses and dies in the novel's first few pages. She remarries out of desperation and proceeds to have a nervous breakdown that's recounted in cliched metaphors. Lily rivals her sister when it comes to doling out self-pity. Serving out a seven-year prison sentence for killing her five-year-old niece in a drunken driving accident, she is bitter, foul-mouthed and reckless. Although Lily wrestles with the shame of her conviction, she is never repentant, and, aside from a few humorously caustic jabs at her prison mates, remains fairly intolerable. Finally, there is Beth, the dependable, sanctimonious, holy-roller of the family. Beth lost her daughter in the car accident and is harboring some severe hatred toward her in-laws. Her pent-up righteousness is dull. It's a slog following these three women through so many pages of depressing action before the slightest bit of sunshine is revealed in an ending that's neither satisfying nor shocking.
Houston Chronicle
“Honesty, humor and fearlessness. Illuminates the internal landscapes all women navigate.”
Missoula Independent
“Penetrating...honest...A rough gem of a narrative...Pia’s tale has it all: death, danger, sexual discovery, and resurrection.”
Helena Independent Record
“A page turner, full of surprises, insight, and spine-tingling erotica.”
Armchair Reviews
“Believable...brilliant...beautifully written...”
Easton Express-Times
“Not entertainment in the traditional sense...it’s an emotional maelstrom worth getting wrapped up in.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061977091
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
607,666
File size:
562 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Secret Sisters


By Joni Rodgers

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Joni Rodgers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060831383

Chapter One

Pia

Whatever happened later, Pia could always know that her eyes were even more green than something and that something something else. Edgar never finished the sentence, and Pia lacked his way with words, so she hadn't even a good guess as to what he was about to say.

"I love that color on you," he whispered just before the entire world collapsed inward. "It makes your eyes even more green than . . ." something.

He did that sometimes. Whispered in her ear. When he'd been drinking a little and watching her from across the room, thinking of later things and earlier things and all sorts of things that were possible between them. Sometimes he didn't even say anything that made sense. He just murmured "la la la" and jangled her earring with the tip of his tongue, and for some reason Pia found this more sensuously eloquent than any words. Edgar was ridiculously inventive with his tongue.

"I'm not a handsome man," he told Pia when they were first dating, "but I am blessed with moments of amazing dexterity." And those moments emerged as promised over the twenty years they were together.

"It makes your eyes even more green . . ."

She definitely heard that much. Keeping her gaze forward, her expression composed, Pia leaned slightly into the whisper. She smiled and tilted her head so that his mouth brushed close to her hair. She wasn't really listening for specific syllables, just allowing his breath against her neck.

It was New Year's Eve. They were at a party, surrounded by polite laughter and chamber music and expensive perfume. They were dressed up. Edgar wasn't usually a dressed-up sort of person, but he looked good in a tux and didn't mind wearing one in winter, when Houston isn't as hot. This was one of the museum's major annual fund-raising events. People with money to donate had to be finessed into forking it over, and every year Edgar did his tie-and-tails best to romance the big benefactors. He was decked out in what he called "Sunday-go-to-meetin'" clothes, even though this wasn't Sunday and "meetin'" had not been a part of their lives for a long time. Pia regretted that later. She wished she'd made an issue of it and dragged him to mass; wished they'd had the boys confirmed and Sunday-schooled, giving them some sort of faith to seize on to when loss yawned like a sinkhole, destabilizing and swallowing everything for miles.

something something

She didn't quite catch it. Pia was left with that unfinished edge unraveling between her ear and the part of her brain that would have collected the words carefully, kept them in a private time capsule. Edgar's Last Words. Part of his private obituary, along with so many other details of him no archaeologist could ever dig deep enough to discern. His sleeping sounds. How he pressed his knuckle under his nose when he was angry, trying not to say something cruel. The way he cracked the boys up by orating street signs in an officious announcer voice.

"Accurate Air Incorporated," he would read from the back of a truck, and then tag it with a fake slogan. "We incorporate air accurately!"

Edgar Wright Ramone, PhD, curator of Eastern European displays, husband of eighteen years, father of James and Jesse, Eagle Scout, cribbage shark, master of the Cajun barbecue, a man blessed with moments of amazing dexterity, whispered his last words to his wife.

something something

Then suddenly, soundlessly, he simply crumpled. And not gracefully or in slow motion. It was an abrupt, boneless descent. His champagne flute shattered on the museum's marble floor. His chin glanced off Pia's shoulder, leaving a small, blue bruise. There was no extending of the hands, no attempt to balance or catch himself. Pia felt in her feet the solid knock of his head against the mosaic tile circle, above which a huge pendulum swung, illustrating the rotation of planet Earth. It happened so fast, Pia didn't even drop her champagne. Someone took it from her hand as she knelt down, confused, calling Edgar's name.

"Edgar?" It was a question, not a scream or even an exclamation. "Edgar?"

The party guests tried not to look, looked, were embarrassed for the couple they assumed to be drunk, became curious, grew concerned, told an intern to call 911, watched a doctor in evening attire administer CPR, told the chamber musicians to stop, stood stunned, sat stunned, and finally left whispering, passing hushed voices back and forth. The sibilant consonants and breathy vowels made a shuffling sound, like paper unfolding behind their hands.

Shush sha . . . said maybe an aneurysm . . . sha sha . . . family . . . really makes you think about . . .

Edgar ended with the dying moments of the year. It turned midnight as they placed him on a gurney. Bells rang across the city. It was 2001. Pia got into the ambulance with Edgar's body. The sirens were silent, and the driver talked on his radio with the same rustling paper tone as the partygoers.

There was paperwork. Forms to sign. A required explanation of legalities before she could officially release his organs for donation. Pia did all that. Then she had to call home and tell the twins to come and get her because she'd left the car at the museum, and they came, and she had to tell them their father was dead. The sun rose on the new year a little while later, but instead of finding Pia the Wife where it had left her, it came up on an empty place, and in the shadows stood Pia the Widow.

Continues...


Excerpted from The Secret Sisters by Joni Rodgers Copyright © 2006 by Joni Rodgers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Joni Rodgers is the author of the memoir Bald in the Land of Big Hair, and the novels Crazy for Trying and Sugar Land. She lives with her family near Houston, Texas.

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Secret Sisters 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book. Let's see...hmmm. If you have ever lost someone, loved someone, felt insecure in life, had/have a sister, kept a secret, fell out of sync with your family, lost a child, thought of suicide, read an erotic book, felt-did not feel: sexy, faced a problem...and the list continues. This book is for you. It has so many levels. It faces so many things it's hard to explain but very simple to read. I ALMOST think that in SOME FORM everyone can relate to every issue. If it's suicide? Maybe it wasn't YOU that thought about it but maybe someone you know. Maybe at some point you thought life was just to hard. Or someone you know thought life was to hard. If the issue is falling out of sync with your family, how many can relate to that? This has many issues of falling out of sync, with life, love, marriage and siblings. Or maybe this book is about loss. The loss of a husband, the loss of a child, the loss of feeling...feeling anything. WOW, your thinking this is a deep book. In a way it is. But it's very simple. Very erotic in Daphines tales of 'feeling.' Feeling different materials, feeling different emotions, feeling alive. Ok, three women, three circumstances. Very different lives...but very much the same. A must read for book clubs (it's bound to bring up some good conversations!) REALLY, a great, great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book had it all. Well put together and easy to read. There was never a point in the book that I said I can't wait for it to be over. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I liked all the characters except for Pia & Dalphine. Pia was a clueless, helpless thing who seemed to be overwhelmed all the time and Dalphine was a scam artist who took Pia to the cleaners. I loved Lily and Beth. I especially enjoyed the different chapters in different characters voices. I would highly recommend this book, especially for book clubs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book the ending could have had afew more details, it kind of left you wondering about a couple of situations!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read...would have liked to know more at the end i guess you are left assuming things.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't waste your time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to give it one star, which isn't fair really since I never did receive this book. It was on back order for quite some time, then my credit card date expired. I did not reissue the new card, hence no book, hence no rating. I'll try and order the book again at a later date though. It sounded interesting.