Sisterwives by Rachel Connor
|Sisterwives by Rachel Connor
|Category: General Fiction
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie
|Summary: A closed community which sets its own rules sounds like heaven to some. Except when one husband decides to have himself two wives, he hadn't recokoned on the serious consequences.
|Date: October 2011
When I first read the title (I hadn't yet read the back cover blurb) I glibly thought that it was about two sisters and their marriages. Wrong. This debut novel by Connor is about two very different women (one is no more than a girl really) who just happen to 'marry' the same man. I use the word marry very loosely indeed. Their community, their rules, their descriptions etc can be rather quirky. Marriages are normally called 'sealings'.'
And as I started to read, I pictured in my mind's eye a sort of Amish-type community. Very intriguing and I wanted to keep reading. There's something that satisfies when you read about a culture or a religion, for example, very different from your own.
The story opens with a young, nervous and naive bride called Amarantha - or Ammie as she's usually called. She's marrying a man who is older but more importantly perhaps, already has a wife and three children.
Connor's style is rather languid and slow-paced. She takes time to get into the head of her characters. And what stood out was that the actions of the main characters, important as they were to the story, took second place to emotions, thoughts, musings etc. So the book has a definite unhurried feel about it which was fine. After all, the community in question here have chosen a simpler way of life, away from the hustle and bustle - and temptations - of town and city.
We all know that very often in love, there are winners and losers. And this statement applies in this novel too. Big time. Rebecca, the first wife: older, hassled somewhat by her busy family life and also teaching at the community school, is not at all happy that she's soon to share her husband, Tobias. But she has no say in the matter. The community elders, who presumably have much wisdom, have already decided on the matter. But is there an ulterior motive?
For Ammie, well, she feels as if she's won the lottery. She'll have a safe and secure home, a respected place within the community as a married woman and the icing on the cake is that she feels physically attracted to Tobias. She never expectred to want him.
Connor is fond of her descriptions. So we know what the main characters look like, in the flesh as it were. Facial features, hair colour, body shapes, eye colour, even Tobias' chest hair all get a descriptive treatment.
As Ammie and Tobias' partnership grows - so too, do the problems. Two women in a kitchen is often asking for trouble. There's added tension as Ammie is asked to look after the children, someone else's children. Problems soon spiral out of control. And the book concentrates on this uneasy triangle of Ammie/Tobias/Rebecca.
The concept of a household of a husband and his two wives, his sisterwives is good and also intriguing. But a slight negative for me was that, at times, I found Connor's language to be pedantic and even repetitious. Yes, there are some lovely lines and passages, but they are the exception, so on balance, a rather average read for me personally.
If this book appeals then you might also enjoy The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson
You can read more book reviews or buy Sisterwives by Rachel Connor at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Sisterwives by Rachel Connor at Amazon.com.
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