Australian Author Challenge: The Sister’s Song By Louise Allen.

Louise Allan is a debut author from Western Australia. This manuscript was awarded a Varuna residential fellowship in 2014 and shortlisted for the City of Fremantle-TAG Hungerford Award. Louise grew up in Tasmania but has since moved to Perth.She is a former doctor and has a passion for music.

This book begins strongly with the death of Ida and Nora’s father in a fictional, rural township in Tasmania in the 1920’s. Their mother has a nervous breakdown and is institutionalised, and the young sisters move in with their elderly grandmother in town.

The girls have been close all their young lives though the grandmother is particularly encouraging of Nora’s musical talents and encourages her to follow her dream of a career as a vocalist. This helps to widen the gap between the sisters, as does their mother’s eccentric behaviour, and Ida ends up working as a nanny, and their lives become quite separate.

The sisters are reunited when Nora loses her scholarship, and she finds herself resentful and isolated, living in a shack in the wilds of Tasmania with her timber cutter husband and children.

Ida lives a simple life with a good man, though is unable to have a family of her own. She doesn’t understand how Nora can be so miserably unhappy when she appears to have it all.

Stretching across sixty plus years, this novel covers the dreams and very real lives of sisters, close in age, but very different in character. Music is the thread that retains the family bond across the generations.

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The opening chapters of this novel resonated with me as I identified with the loss of a parent at a young age, and having a younger sister who was definately Nora to my Ida.

It was also obvious that the author had a good feel for life in early Tasmania and she portrayed this extremely well. Her descriptions were great without being over wordy – loved this!

The second half of the novel drifted a little for me, and I guess the themes of sisterly ties and motherhood – the pros and cons – became a little too “girlie” for me. Purely a personal issue.

A good read which would make a good movie: you would just have to insert a couple of car chases and some sort of alien, and Bobs your Uncle.

 

 

 

 

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