Sisters is a novel by Australian novelist and short story writer John Clanchy.
The novel is centered around three Australian sisters who revisit for the first time in decades the coastal house where they’d spent their childhood summers. Neither Grace nor Rose, now both in their sixties, know why they are there, but neither has been able to resist the summons of their imperious older sister, Sarah.
As the days of this summer unfold, the narratives of the sisters’ lives unfold along with them. Each sister remembers fragments of a common past in this house, but whenever they try to fit those fragments together, they find they never quite fit.
And so Grace and Rose are pulled back into the urgencies of the present. Exactly why has Sarah summoned them to this last summer together, and why now? And why does she let day after day go by without telling them? Is she ill? Has it something to do with the estate, the house, the gardens, the orchards? What is Sarah’s secret? And why do the thoughts of all three of them return time and again to their brother Billy?
Praise for John’s novels:
The Hard Word
Flawless and heartbreaking. . .
The Weekend Australian
. . . a small gem.
Australian Book Review
A sensitive exploration of memory, love and family . . . an ambitious, compelling novel across contemporary themes.
Judges’ citation, Winner of Australian Capital Territory Book of the Year, 2003
It is rare to find a male writer who is able to get under the skin of women’s understandings, but in The Hard Word John Clanchy does this with a wonderful empathy that finds the core of relationship and carefully brings it to light . . . How does he know such things?
Lessons from the Heart
John Clanchy’s sequel to The Hard Word . . . dazzles with his sure-footed conveyance of a young woman’s consciousness . . . Readers who value lightness of touch and have a sense of irony will warm to this book. As a book about self-reflection, it is outstanding.
The realisation of plot and character are wholly satisfying. This is a novel of heartbeats. We hear our own among the tumult of teenage indecision and danger . . . J. D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye and Billy Casper in Barry Hines’s A Kestrel for a Knave come readily to mind.
The Sunday Age
Clanchy prefers to suggest rather than to describe, and the impact is as devastating as the discoveries made by Leo Colston in L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between.
The Canberra Times
The story is like a road movie into the centre of what it means to be Australian . . . a rite of passage experience.
John wrote the first draft of the novel at our retreat in France, La Muse.