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on 13 January 2003
Having recently read Damage by the same author I was impatient to read Sin. Sin tells the somewhat disturbing tale of a woman obsessed with her sister with a mixture of love and hatred. The story is extremely readable, in fact I read it in one sitting, but the story is disturbing, and unlike Damage, I found it impossible to relate to Ruth, the main character, and unusually found myself totally disliking her. Both Damage and Sin are sinister tales of lust and spite, and although similar I can’t say that I actually enjoyed Sin, it had no particular outcome and left me feeling uncomfortable. However the book is very well written, and indeed is an easy read, but it tells the tale of an unkind, bitter and twisted individual and is frankly rather depressing. This will not however put me off reading further offerings by the same author, as I greatly appreciate her ability to describe emotion and engross the reader.
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on 12 March 2011
Unlike some of the other reviewers I have not seen Damage, or read Josephine Hart's other books. I came to it with an open mind.

It is a dark tale of a woman's obsession with her beautiful adopted older sister, and her resentment and growing hate for the beautiful, tall and lean, blond Elizabeth. The prose is precise and jagged. At time disjointed, but always beautiful.

I found the description of Ruth's stealing personal items from her sister and squirreling them away and bringing them out later as fetishes when the need took her, piquantly sordid.

The Lake incident was heartbreaking and I had to stop reading and compose myself. Tragedy follows tragedy and we see Ruth gradually taking on the identity of Elizabeth. Disturbing at times, eventually becoming an emotional car smash that one continues to read in utter fascination.
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on 14 August 2016
Sin by Josephine Hart is a simple story to which the readers are invited as soon as the book falls into their hands, for the dustcover reveals the plot immediately.
Hart is not concerned with giving the plot prematurely, she is concerned with peeling of the layers of psychopathology that leads to the story unfolding the way that it does. All of Hart’s books have the some core issues: early trauma, obsessions, intergenerational and re-emerging family conflicts, unrecoverable experiences that follow you all your life, inescapable bonds of love and hatred usually set against considerable wealth of upper class existence.
The format of Sin is kept simple, light, chronological yet tight and complex.

Two central concepts create the dramatic scaffolding for the book: the original sin and the primary scene. In psychoanalysis the primary scene is this symbolic moment of fusion between parents which is being accidentally and secretly observed by their offspring from which spring powerful emotions of adoration, gratitude and murderous rage linked to a sense of being excluded from the loving pair. In the book Ruth as a child stumbles upon a lavishly illuminated scene of love bestowed upon the adopted daughter Elizabeth. She sees her parents lovingly brush Elizabeth’s long silky blond hair whilst the girl sits pretty on their marital bed glowing in their adoration. From this moment on “the original sin” is being born that of murderous hatred of the usurper. This primary scene in the book is reminiscent of Baby Jesus surrounded by loving, adoring yet uncomprehending parents (adoptive parents in some sense) but instead of salvation of the observer it leads to the sin of hatred and malevolent betrayal of the soul. Toxic envy, the sense of betrayal and abandon felt by Ruth transmogrify into murderous rage and life-long hatred. So what is the original sin in this context if not the envy and hatred that Ruth never fights against but allows it to grow to monstrous cancerous proportions. Contrasted with the primary scene of love and adoration both form the backcloth to this drama.

All else in the book is but the consequence and price exerted upon both heroines. The consequences of what, one might ask? The consequences of early trauma turned into obsessive love or hatred from which none of Josephine Harts heroines ever manage to recover.

Short and powerful essay on the consequences of cancerous hatred.
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on 31 December 2002
Having recently read Damage by the same author I was impatient to read Sin. Sin tells the somewhat disturbing tale of a woman obsessed with her sister with a mixture of love and hatred. The story is extremely readable, in fact I read it in one sitting, but the story is disturbing, and unlike Damage, I found it impossible to relate to Ruth, the main character, and unusually found myself totally disliking her. Both Damage and Sin are sinister tales of lust and spite, and although similar I can’t say that I actually enjoyed Sin, it had no particular outcome and left me feeling uncomfortable. However the book is very well written, and indeed is an easy read, but it tells the tale of an unkind, bitter and twisted individual and is frankly rather depressing. This will not however put me off reading further offerings by the same author, as I greatly appreciate her ability to describe emotion and engross the reader.
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on 6 April 2012
I decided to re-read one of my favourite novels, Josephine Hart's "Sin". It is an astonishing achievement and is one of the many novels that I really wish I had written. It is short enough to be devoured in a single sitting but like a wonderful meal leaves you hungry for more.

Hart's writing is a revelation with her short sentences and tautly controlled plot. The story is magnetic and ruthless and will hold you in its thrall until its tragic conclusion.

In Ruth Garton and Charles Harding she depicts the "ordered deceit" of two obsessives and the trail of devastation that their affair leaves in its wake. Ruth is a chilling piece of characterisation as the malevolent psychotic sister to Elizabeth, determined to wreak revenge on her "perfect" sister.

Hart's prose is hypnotic and powerful. Her addictive recipe uses simple ingredients and combines them into a lethal cocktail, and I find myself totally intoxicated.
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on 25 July 2014
This is a really absorbing page turner which is written in a more engaging style than most. From the beginning it is very difficult to put down.
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on 27 February 2016
excellent
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