Such Devoted Sisters

Shena MacKay, Editor
Shena MacKay, Editor Moyer Bell $21.95 (330p) ISBN 978-1-55921-110-9
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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This fine collection of 21 short stories offers a rich spectrum of sisterly behavior that spans the century and, almost incidentally, traces the evolution of the feminist movement. Here, selected by novelist Mackay (Dunedin), are tales of meek and indecisive spinsters who run a boarding house (``Habit,'' by Marjorie Barnard); of two fragile middle-aged sisters who, in Katherine Mansfield's ``The Daughters of the Late Colonel,'' espouse the firm credo ``It's much nicer to be weak than to be strong''; and, in strong contrast, of leather-clad women at a lesbian bar, revealed in Fiona Cooper's rollicking ``The Sisters Hood.'' Themes of betrayal and abuse by men, of jealousy and revenge, of sexual awakening-all are touched upon again and again with strength and humor. Perhaps the most powerful of the stories are those by the Indian writers Anjana Appachana and Wajida Tabassum. Appachana's disturbing tale of a degraded bride (``Incantations'') has a tragic conclusion with a curiously familiar twist, while Tabassum's gem (``Hand-me-downs'') features a unique revenge. Classics from Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Gaskell and Christina Rossetti are side by side with the modern tales, resulting in a well-rounded and satisfying array of sisterhoods past and present. (Sept.)
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