‘Two Sisters’ by Mary Hogan

I  am the middle child in a family of three girls, so it is no shock that I am drawn to sister stories – sisters who love each other, sisters who hate each other, sisters who hurt each other, sisters who give up everything to protect each other – as long as there are sisters, you can bet I will give the novel a try. Enter stage left, Mary Hogan’s novel, ‘Two Sisters’.

'Two Sisters' by Mary Hogan

The two sisters of this story’s title are older sister, Pia, and younger sister, Muriel. Muriel and Pia have a bitter and rivalry-fueled relationship, largely due to their mother, Lidia – a spoiled, selfish, cruel, priest-seducing, less-than-stellar mom. The gist of the plot circles around over-weight and imperfect Muriel who was cruelly treated by both her mother and sister all through her formative years. Muriel was made to keep the family secrets, namely that perfect daughter Pia was in fact the result of a secret sexual affair between Lidia and her priest, while Muriel was the daughter that Lidia never really wanted.

I wanted to feel bad for Muriel. I wanted to feel outraged for her. That never really happened. And while I strongly disliked her mother Lidia, I really liked Muriel’s sister, Pia. I cared most about Pia and her struggle, her story. Even though Muriel is meant to be the heroine and main focus of this sister tale, I was most satisfied when I was reading about ill-fated Pia and generally uninterested when reading about Muriel and evil Mom, Lidia. Pia’s character was well-developed and intriguing, she was a combination of selfishness/perfection and selflessness/helplessness. Although she was cruel to Muriel, she was still incredibly likable and more down-to-earth that any other character that author, Mary Hogan, created.

As the novel came to a close, I really didn’t care what happened to Muriel, or Lidia, or the mother/daughter relationship. I was done with the story, several chapters before the ending, at the conclusion of the sisters’ reconciliation and ability to finally forgive and accept each other. I placed down this book feeling as though I might have read this story wrong. Can you read a story wrong? Literature professors might say yes. Or is the ability to internalize a story how you chose and explore traits of humanity through fictionalized characters the real beauty of literature? Ultimately, Mary Hogan’s story made me think, and that is all I really want out of a book anyway – so I say, give this story a read and let me know what you think.

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 3 {out of 5} stars | ★★★☆☆
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 1 {out of 5} stars | ★☆☆☆☆
RATING: 4 {out of 5} stars | ★★★★☆

{This novel was gifted to Her Literary Salon by William Morrow/Harper Collins Publishers.}