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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secrets and Lies
This is the story of three women: sisters who have not spoken to each other for three years, and are drawn back together to the family business, a motel in Australia to celebrate their grandmother's eightieth birthday.

Carrie is the youngest sister, having fallen out with Bett, the middle sister because she married Bett's fiancé. Anna, the eldest was...
Published on 9 Mar 2010 by Jo D'Arcy

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither demanding nor particularly rewarding
Although slow to begin with, this was easy enough to read, but did fall into that category of "a bit of a waste of reading time", unless you had a particular reason for reading it. The basic idea (the story of three sisters from a small town in South Australia who all end up back in that town together as adults after years of avoiding one another, and rediscover that...
Published on 3 Oct 2004 by Michelle Scott


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secrets and Lies, 9 Mar 2010
By 
Jo D'Arcy (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Paperback)
This is the story of three women: sisters who have not spoken to each other for three years, and are drawn back together to the family business, a motel in Australia to celebrate their grandmother's eightieth birthday.

Carrie is the youngest sister, having fallen out with Bett, the middle sister because she married Bett's fiancé. Anna, the eldest was stuck between helping and supporting Carrie and ended up falling out with her as well as Bett, when some home truths were told about her own relationship with her perfect husband Glenn. These three main characters on the return to the motel in Australia at the behest of their grandmother start very slowly to form a bond that had long since been lost.

Monica McInerney is very good at writing about groups of women and they way they interact with each other and less supporting characters and create a compelling story that you have to keep reading to find out what happens. However, for me her creation of Lola, as the grandmother who spends her time interfering in other people's business, is one of her most irritating characters. There is just something about the way she is portrayed that got under my skin and meant I did not warm to her. I think because of the way she interfered in everyone's lives but also her disregard of what she was doing, blaming the fact that she could get away with it because of her age. Even when the story becomes emotional and Lola is affected, this still did not make me want to warm to her, knowing that she also had many secrets to hide from her own son and grandchildren, especially when she was trying to make them face up to theirs.

In the end for me the three sisters, actually faced up to the secrets they had been carrying for the last 3 years themselves, without much help from Lola. This brought them all together through some difficult times, and through some comical ones, when they have to stage a musical that their grandmother has written. Her reason for bringing them all back together.

McInerney suggests at what has happened as we read in the present, but cleverly takes us back to the past as we relive what has happened with the characters, done well so you do not see the join. But also so that we as readers, can make our conclusions about the characters and the past.

There are only a couple of minor characters, Richard who is staying at the motel, keeping secrets of his own, and also Ellen, Anna's daughter who has to suffer being taunted at school because of a scar that she has acquired. The three girls parents, are something of a non entity, obviously to make it clear to the reader that they were involved so much in their work, that it was left to Lola to raise the children, and they became under her control, something which has continued into adulthood by all accounts.

Do not let my negativity about on character put you off (why would it) and find out for yourself, because as a complete book the story is very good and will satisfy anyone who likes family saga type stores with added bit of 'chick-lit' chucked in for good measure.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter Perfect, 28 Mar 2004
By 
Jenni Doherty (Derry, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Paperback)
Known in childhood as the singing trio 'The Alphabet Sisters' haven't spoken for three years and are all reunited at the request of their Irish-born eccentric grandmother, Lola, for her 80th birthday party. Lola tricks them into staging an amateur production of a musical comedy she has written, 'Many Happy Returns'.
It is the three sisters deep relationship with Lola, and not their mother, that attracts the reader, as is the perceptively poignant bond created between Anna's seven year old daughter, Ellen, and her 'Really-Great-Gran'.
Lola is the ambitious character, priding herself on having cultivated the independent spirits of her granddaughters. Although we are enticed into the lives of the adult sisters, our attention is always more prominent with their grandmother who is ever wise, eccentric, compassionate, generous and doting. She is the overwhelming link between each and every character, be it the family, the local butcher, the motel guests or the pet sheep Bumper Baa.
Interesting bobs of information on the local tourist attractions of the Clare Valley region are divulged and through Lola; McInerney inserts token Irish witticisms and sayings. One of these gems of wisdom is Lola's echoing lament 'face your fears and tell the truth' to her granddaughters. By being true to themselves they can be true to each other. This sentiment is reinforced time and time again.
Genuinely warm and imaginative with an unforgettable cast of quirky characters, this epic family saga, set in the Clare Valley of Southern Oz, brings the idiosyncrasies of small-town Australia, sibling-rivalry, plus the pain and pleasure of new and old loves brilliantly to life. It bursts with humour, honesty, drama and local colour. The roll of romance is also neatly entwined into the narrative and translates sincerely without appearing mawkish or contrived.
The end result is a wholesomely gentle and beautifully observed tale of a close-knit family whose interweaving lives, have been torn apart and then mended in their strength of forgiveness and truth to an eventual move beyond grief. It'll have you in stitches. It'll reduce you to tears. It may even make you appreciate your own sisters, (of which I have two), that little bit more.
McInerney has drawn comparisons to our own mistress of storytelling, Maeve Binchy, yet her voice is at once fresh and original, upbeat and tender in tackling a wealth of emotional and realistic subject matter. Her style is resonating and rich in delivery that succeeds beyond most current contemporary womens' fiction with equally strong and arresting female characters.
Readers who enjoyed the 'Big Stone Gap', 'Big Cherry Holler' and 'Milk Glass Moon' series from Adrianna Trigiani will adore this book.
A 'Happy Return' would be the future 'A to Z' of the wonderful and quirky Quinlan sisters as mothers, then grandmothers themselves, where more 'Divine Secrets of the Alphabet Sisterhood' could be revealed, relished and remembered!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Alphabet Sisters, 7 Dec 2010
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This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Paperback)
This book is a good read. As usual Monica McInerney came up with an excellent book, although the print in this edition was a bit too small making it a little hard to read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither demanding nor particularly rewarding, 3 Oct 2004
By 
Michelle Scott (Wellington New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Paperback)
Although slow to begin with, this was easy enough to read, but did fall into that category of "a bit of a waste of reading time", unless you had a particular reason for reading it. The basic idea (the story of three sisters from a small town in South Australia who all end up back in that town together as adults after years of avoiding one another, and rediscover that closeness) and the setting appealed, but the story itself is very simplistic to the point that it makes you cringe at times. And the book is not particularly "true to label" - as it ultimately deals with the death of a young mother from cancer, it turns into something that seems at odds with its brief and promise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, 28 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Kindle Edition)
Really nice easy read it is a follow on from a previous book but you don't have to read it in sequence. I would recommend it to anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 July 2014
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Mrs. C. A. Trimble "Carole" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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great value, lovely condition
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5.0 out of 5 stars The alphabet sisters, 29 May 2014
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A very good read sad funny generally a warm heart rendering story touched with sadness at the end. Well done Monica more good stories pleases
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Characters Jumped Out Of The Pages, 2 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Paperback)
The story is about three sisters; Anna, Bett and Carrie, who had a falling out three years ago and haven't seen or spoken to each other since. Lola, their extravagant and unusual grandmother, insists that they all must come to her 80th birthday party and begrudgingly they agree. Little do they know what she has in store for them to make them stay, and that will hopefully bring them back together and sort things out once and for all.

I enjoyed this book (after all Monica McInerney is one of my favourite authors). It was well written, had plenty of humour, twists, challenges and some unexpected moments too.

I really liked most of the characters however i do admit that i already was biased against Carrie because of what she did - i didn't like her so much at first. However as the story unfolded i started to warm to her.

At first i thought it was a lighthearted read. It came as a bit of a shock when towards the end of the book that tone definitely changed. I don't know if it was just because i had certain expectations that it threw me so much or because it actually was a bit disjointed but either way i struggled through the ending. I'm not sure how to describe it without spoiling anything so i will just leave it there.

Even though the characters Monica created were fleshed out and written so well that they jumped out of the pages and became real, i don't actually think the work of fiction as a whole was one of her best.

I'm not sure who i would recommend this book to as it is a lighthearted romance but then again it's not. I guess if this is your first Monica McInerney book, read another before you decide whether you like her books or not.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not as good as Monica's other books!, 15 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Kindle Edition)
As always I lapped up Monica's book. I have read them all and have found them variable, rarely though does one fail to deliver. This author's books are always a treat like sitting down to a great piece of cake or delicious box of chocolates and I can rarely wait to sit down to finish them. To begin with I was riveted with AS and was hoping for some gripping romances and exciting stories to take place. They did not though and the romance lines kind of petered out. I also found the ending very protracted and think the sister's cancer could either have been turned into some other illness or shortened. She was very young for cancer and although I love the realism in Monica's books, I read to be uplifted and tantalised and found the length and detail of the illness a bit depressing. The thumbs up go to the quality of dialogue and writing which so many wannabee writers fail on and are done so admirably well with Monica. The writings is faultless and beginner romance writers could learn heaps from her. I would have given a 2 and a half but have to give a three for quality.
Overall a nice read but not so thrilling as some of her others. I am currently reading Family Baggage so hope to review on that.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great summer read, 10 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Alphabet Sisters (Kindle Edition)
Bought this book as the prequel to Lola's Secret, it didn't disappoint, can't wait to start on Lola's Secret.... Enjoy!
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The Alphabet Sisters
The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney
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