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9780307268167

The Sister

Adams, Poppy Author

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“This lyrical and haunting story of two sisters, their troubling past, and the terrible secrets they each want buried will stay with you long after you close the book.”
—Harlan Coben

The Sister is a taut, tense tale of the ties that bind—sometimes a little too tightly.”
—Karin Slaughter

From her lookout in the crumbling mansion that was her childhood home, Ginny watches and waits for her younger sister to arrive. Vivien has not set foot in the house since she left nearly fifty years ago; the reclusive Ginny has rarely ventured out, retreating into the precise routines that define her days, carrying on her father’s solitary work studying moths.

As the sisters revisit their shared past, they realize that their recollections differ in essential and unsettling ways. Before long, the deeply buried resentments that have shaped both their lives rise to the surface, and Vivien’s presence threatens to disrupt Ginny’s carefully ordered world.

Told in Ginny’s unforgettable voice, this subtle and chilling debut novel tells an extraordinary story of how families are capable of undoing themselves—especially in the name of love.

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About the Author:

Poppy Adams has worked as a documentary filmmaker for the BBC and the Discovery Channel. She lives with her husband and three children in London, where she is working on her next book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

It’s ten to two in the afternoon and I’ve been waiting for my little sister, Vivi, since one-thirty. She’s finally coming home, at sixty-seven years old, after an absence of nearly fifty years.

I’m standing at a first-floor window, an arched stone one like you’d find in a church, my face close up to the diamond-shaped leaded panes, keeping lookout. For a moment I focus on the glass and catch the faint, honest reflection of my eye staring back at me, a lock of gray straggly hair in its way. I don’t often look at my reflection and to peer at this moment directly into my eye feels more disconcerting than it should, as if I can sense I’m about to be judged.

I pull my wool cardy—an old one of my father’s—more tightly around me, tucking the loose end under my arm. It’s dropped a degree today, the wind must have changed easterly during the night, and later we’ll get fog in the valley. I don’t need a barograph or a hygrometer these days, I can sense it—pressure changes, a shift in humidity—but, to tell the truth, I also think about the weather to help me take my mind off things. If I didn’t have it to ponder right now, I’d already be getting slightly anxious. She’s late.

My smoky breath turns to liquid as it hits the window and, if I rub the mist into heavy droplets, I can make it trickle down the glass. From here I can see half the length of the grassy drive as it winds through the tall skeletal limes on either side, until it disappears right, curving downhill towards East Lodge and the lane and the outside world. If I move my head a fraction to the left the drive elongates and the tops of the limes veer suddenly to the side, distorted by the imperfections of handmade glass. Moving it a little to the right splits the beech hedge in two on either side of a bubble. I know every vagary of every pane. I’ve lived here all my life and, before me, my mother lived here all her life and, before her, her father and grandfather.

Did I tell you that Vivien said in her letter she was returning for good? For some final peace, she said, because now, she said, we ought to be keeping each other company for the rest of our lives, rather than dying lonely and alone. Well, I’ll tell you now, I don’t feel lonely and I certainly don’t feel as if I’m dying, but even so I’m glad she’s coming home. Glad, and a little nervous—a surge of apprehension is swelling in my stomach. I can’t help wondering what we’ll talk about after all these years and, I suppose, if I’ll even recognize her.

I’m not, as a rule, an emotional person. I’m far too—how shall I put it?—levelheaded. I was always the sensible sister and Vivi was the adventurer, but my excitement at her impending arrival even sur- prises me.

She is late, however. I look at my wristwatch—the digital one on my left wrist. Her letter most specifically read one-thirty and, believe me, it’s not my timekeeping that’s gone awry. I keep a number of clocks just so I can be sure that, even if one or two let me down, I can always find the correct time. When you live by yourself in a house that you very rarely leave and is even more rarely visited, it’s essen- tial that you don’t lose track of the time. Every minute lost—if left uncorrected—would soon accumulate to an hour, and then hours, until—as you can imagine—you could easily end up living in a completely erroneous time frame.

Our mother, Maud, and I were always waiting for Vivi: in the hall before we went to church or shouting for her from the landing to hurry up for school. And it’s now, as I wait for her again, that I find snippets of our childhood jumping into my head, slices of conversation, things I’ve not thought about since they happened: our first pair of boots, which Vivi had chosen for us, long black ones that laced to the top; long afternoons in the summer holidays spent damming up the brook to create our own tributaries and islands; sneaking into the loggia at harvest time to drink cider before taking it to the men in the fields; giggling with Maud at Clive’s rare excitement when he created a Six-spot Burnet with five spots; our first trip to boarding school, holding each other’s clammy hands with shared anticipation, squeezed among the chemical bottles in the back of Clive’s car.

It was a childhood in perfect balance, so I’m wondering what it was that came along and changed everything. It wasn’t just one thing. There’s rarely a sole cause for the separation of lives. It’s a sequence of events, an inexorable chain reaction where each small link is fundamental, like a snake of upended dominoes. And I’ve been thinking that the very first one, the one you push to start it all off, must have been when Vivi slipped off our bell tower and nearly died, fifty-nine years ago.

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Book Description Knopf, 2008. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "The Sisteris powered by the same sort of confidently rendered literary suspense that propelled Donna Tartt'sThe Secret Historyonto best-seller lists.Ms. Adams makes Ginny such an intriguingly unreliable narrator that the reader is continually kept off balance." Michiko Kakutani,The New York Times "Adams spins a suspenseful, provocative, deliberately ambiguous tale about decay and disrepairof people and the bonds between themand about the harm that comes from even well-intended secrecy and silence." Laura Collins-Hughes,New York Sun "The great beauty of this splendid first novel lies in Ginny's voice, perfectly clear, controlled and calm.A brilliant narrative performance." Barbara Fisher,The Boston Globe "Readers will be haunted by this chilling psychological drama." Sue Corbett,People Magazine "Deliciously creepy.[The Sister] reminds us of A.S. Byatt, Kate Atkinson and Stephen King having a house party." Colette Bancroft,The Detroit News "A genuinely eerie thriller.a chilling contemporary gothic." Margaret Flanagan,Booklist "A chilling and disturbing novel." Laurel Bliss,Library Journal,starred review "Chilling.an eerie and accomplished debut." Publishers Weekly "Engrossing." Kirkus Reviews "Whatever Happened to Baby Janecomes to Devon, in Adams's gothic tale of madness, sibling rivalry and lepidoptera. Adams is a skillful, entertaining storyteller.' The Guardian "This is a dark book, but an extremely funny one, recalling Mark Haddon and Barbara Trapido by turns. A brilliantly paced debut." Daily Mail "[A] striking debut novel.[The Sister]is also, in its quietly idiosyncratic way, a novel of ideas. When Ginny reflects on the 'analytic and scientific' cast of mind she inherited from her father, it's difficult not to think of Keats and the 'touch of cold philosopy' that 'unweaves' the poetry of natural phenomena. Adams took a risk in deciding to tell her story in the flat, abstracted voice of someone who has devoted her life to a 'little known insect.' But it is a convincing, true voice and it is to Adams's credit that she sustains it as she does." Financial Times "Cognitive dissonance is what drives the plot, and that makes this quite a bold first novel." Daily Telegraph "Damaged families, psychological drama and ghosts from the past abound. Adams succeeds in carefully building up an atmosphere of penumbral suspense, creeping towards a tense climax." Literary Review "[The Sister] is an intricately crafted story, told with just the right balance of claustrophobia and compassion." Psychologies Magazine "[A] beautifully staged story.mesmerising and unsettling." Good HousekeepingBook of the Month "The scene is set for sinister secrets and the revival of murderous family tensions. Adams's debut is an atmospheric addition to the 'mess with your head' school of fiction." Marie Claire, 4 stars "A gothic mystery that hums along on its slow-burning menace, Poppy Adams'sThe Sisteris a sinful box of bonbons: delicious, but you never know what's inside the next bite." Andrew Pyper, author ofLost GirlsandThe Wildfire Season "A taut, tense tale of the ties that bindsometimes a little too tightly.&am. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0307268160

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Book Description Alfred a Knopf Inc, Westminister, Maryland, U.S.A., 2008. Soft Cover. Book Condition: New. First Edition. SOFTCOVER. Told through Ginny's unforgettably eerie voice--both childlike and sinister--this is a haunting novel about passion, trust, betrayal, and a family that destroys itself in the name of love. Advanced Reading Copy (ARC). Bookseller Inventory # 001135

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