Title: The Good Sister
Author: Sally Hepworth
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.
Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.
The Good Sister is a brilliant read. We are mainly following Fern, a woman who is almost certainly on the Asperger’s spectrum and works at her local library. She is funny, interesting and very likeable – I loved her various comments and observations on life, they made me smile throughout. The story isn’t all light-hearted though… I won’t give too much away about the plot but Fern knows her twin sister Rosie is desperate to have a baby but has been unable to conceive with her husband, so she naively decides to try and get pregnant for her.
There’s a lot of character development in this book, with the reader really getting to know Fern and her new love interest, Wally. Both seem great characters and I really warmed to them. However, the story also has chapters told from Rose’s point of view – extracts from her diary which gives a darker side to the twins’ lives growing up with their evidently psychopathic mother, and cautions that Fern might be getting herself into a situation she can’t handle.
As we read on we realise that Fern and Rose have a very dark secret and things aren’t quite all as they seem.
The Good Sister has less ‘thriller’ elements to it than I expected from how it’s marketed – but this was no bad thing. Yes, I love books in the psychological thriller genre, but here I actually enjoyed reading about Fern’s day to day life more than the mystery elements. Sally Hepworth did such a brilliant job of building the characters and developing them into people you can actually imagine knowing. Plus, the possibility of an unreliable narrator means you’re always second-guessing whether someone is telling the truth…
I absolutely loved this novel and raced through it. It’s certainly made me want to pick up more of Sally Hepworth’s novels – I really enjoyed The Mother-in-Law too, so if the others are anywhere near as good, Sally Hepworth is likely to become a new favourite author!
Many thanks to the publisher, Hodder & Stoughton, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest review.