Published by Penguin/Viking
ebook & paperback : 29 June 2017
Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning.
Within an hour, one of them is dead.
Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.
Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.
But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.
And only another life will do…
I enjoyed Jane Corry’s previous book, My Husband’s Wife, but really feel that the bar has been raised with this latest release.
Told between two timelines, 2001 and from 2016 onwards, this is the story of Alison and Kitty, half-sisters but so very different in personality that they hardly seemed related at all. “Maybe it would be different if my sister was…..well, more sisterly. But instead, Kitty was constantly scratchy or downright hostile. It was like living with the school bully but never being able to swap classes”. The cover shows the line “Three Little Girls. One good. One bad. One dead.” With a hook like that, how can you not be tempted.
Blood Sisters drew me in straight away. With the narrative told from the perspective of both sisters, you get a fully fleshed story and can empathise (or not) with the characters. I didn’t particularly like either sister although I didn’t have to to enjoy the story. I felt that Alison was always holding something back – not being honest, and because of that I couldn’t really get on her side, whilst Kitty was still a little madam despite her disability. She may not have been able to articulate her thoughts out loud but she was very forthright and at times it was quite amusing knowing what she was actually thinking and watching others misinterpret.
This story focuses heavily on disability but it is done sensitively and with compassion. This aspect was so well written that it opened my eyes to how difficult communication and life in general can be, particularly for someone like Kitty. You also see how difficult it is for the families trying to cope both physically and emotionally.
Elder sister Alison is struggling to live on her wages from her art job at a local college so takes a second job at an open prison teaching art to the prisoners. Now this is where the author’s experience as a ‘writer in residence’ at a prison really shines through, both in the authentic detail of prison procedure and the actual dangers facing not only staff but inmates too, this may have been a lower category prison but it could still be dangerous. I always thought that open prisons housed prisoners convicted of white collar crime rather than murderers so this was a learning curve too.
Initially this is rather a slow burner of a book whilst you get to know the characters and their current circumstances but once the narrative starts to switch between the two timelines, the piecemeal reveal of what really happened all those years before will keep you gripped. There was one person that I had my doubts about and I almost did an air punch of satisfaction when I was proved (partly) right.
You may think you have worked out what happened but the author will throw in a little twist or curveball to create those doubts. There was one part later on that I thought was a little too convenient and I was a bit sceptical but having said that, generally there is a superb sense of unease and anticipation running throughout the story.
Blood Sisters kept my attention from beginning to end and was a truly engrossing read. Definitely one to be recommended.
My thanks to Penguin for the paperback copy to review.
About the author:
Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men – an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her début thriller. ‘I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I’m a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!’
Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund.