Friday, 7 May 2010
Three sisters (Sinclair) 74
Kindly lent to me by Simon T from Stuck in a Book, it turned out that I had actually already read Three sisters by May Sinclair, before embarking on this challenge. But it is such an intriguing and well written read that I actually sat down and enjoyed reading it again!
In a setting very similar to that of the Bronte's in Haworth, the book tells the story of three sisters, Mary, Gwenda and Ally who live with their unpleasant vicar father in a rectory. It is a desolate existence in the Yorkshire village of Garth with nothing much to look forward to:
" "Is it ten yet?" "No". Mary smile, but the word shuddered in her throat like a weary moan. "How long?" "Forty-three minutes" "Oh, Lord...." Gwenda laughed the laugh of brave nerves tortured. From her sofa beyond the table Alice sighed. At ten o'clock Essy Gale, the maid-servant, would come in from the kitchen and the Vicar from the inner room. And Essy would put the Bible and Prayer-book on the table, and the Vicar would read Prayers. That was all they were waiting for. It was all that could happen. It happened every night at ten o'clock".
But the sisters all have dreams, predominantly centring around finding a husband since that seems to be the only means of escape from constant service in Sunday schools and daily prayers. When an eligible young man, the new doctor, Steven Rowcliffe arrives in the village. Of course all three of the sisters are interested in attracting his attention, to the extent that one makes herself physically ill. It's certainly not a light-hearted "search for a husband Jane Austen-esque" read.
It's an extremely powerful novel, and having read May Oliver: a life, I am now looking forward to the other Sinclair VMC, which is The life and death of Harriet Frean.
It's just been published once by Virago with an original green cover.