|The True and Splendid History of|
the Harristown Sisters
When Manticory was thirteen, a man on the Harristown bridge tried to drag her into a stand of trees before being spooked away. Instead of giving her sympathy, her sister Darcy (who has no sympathy to give anyone) decides that the sister's hair is their (her) ticket to riches. She bullies them into singing and dancing and books them into a local hall. Darcy knows that the only reason people will pay their sixpence is to show off their hair at the end of the show.The shows grow more elaborate. Manticory is drafted to write new ballads and sketches for the sisters to act out. Too keep things looking respectable, she includes stinging banter and stage violence to cover for the sisters aggression towards each other. This might have been as far as the Swiney sisters got if it hadn't been for Mr. Rainfleury, a doll maker and "Brother of the Hair." Rainfleury is one of many well-heeled hair fetishists that agree to help the sisters in exchange for a touch of their hair. Eventually, Darcy incorporates the "Swiney Godivas." Before long, they're shilling dolls in their likenesses and hair products. Rainfleury even marries one of the twins (though he carries on with the other twin).
|The seven Sutherland Sisters were Lovric's inspiration for the|
Lovric puts her battling and embattled Swiney sisters into smaller and smaller corners, turning their tale into a full blown tragedy before it's all over. The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters is a dark tale, full of betrayal and unscrupulousness and pure creepiness. But I had a fantastic time reading it. Lovric's characters are so well-developed. Her plot overturns so many narrative conventions that I read with my iPad plugged into the wall for a few hours because I was running out of juice and I couldn't bear to leave off while it charged. I had to know what happened next. This is a brilliant, challenging novel.
I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 12 August 2014.