The Sisters Sweet

Elizabeth Weiss. Dial, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-1-984801-54-8
In this slow-moving but imaginative debut, Weiss introduces readers to a desperate show business family. In 1918, Lenny and Maude Szász scheme to break the family back into the business after Maude was sidelined by an injury, and land on a plan that sees them disguising their twin five-year-old daughters, Harriet and Josie, as conjoined twins, and conceiving of a vaudeville act called the Siamese Sweets. For a decade, the girls are not allowed out of their home unattached, and as they become famous around the Midwest, it becomes clear that Josie is the star. When Josie abandons the family for Hollywood in a dramatic break from Harriet on stage at age 15, Harriet is left to discover her identity. Woven in are Lenny and Maude’s backstories—his alcoholism and hardships as a set designer, and Maude’s time in the spotlight as well as the baby she abandoned. Harriet, self-described as “the family dud, the tragically abandoned second fiddle, a nobody stunned by her sister’s magnificence,” is unfortunately passive, and while Weiss explores the intriguing theme of a woman understood only in relation to others, Harriet doesn’t exactly catapult the plot forward. Still, there are plenty of rich details, and each scene is well drawn. Weiss is clearly talented, even if this isn’t the perfect start. Agent: Rebecca Gradinger. C. Fletcher & Company. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/19/2021
Release date: 11/30/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-9848-0155-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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