Author: Natalie Standiford
Publication: September 2010
Source: ARC Tour (Good Golly Miss Holly Tours)
The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.
Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.
And so the confessions begin....
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters is Natalie Standiford's second novel, and it was a real delight to be able to enter the world of the famed and fictional Sullivan family of Baltimore. This one is just as fun as How to Say Goodbye in Robot, but definitely lacks the quality that made my heart melt in Robot.
Confessions is broken up in such an original way: the three Sullivan sisters, Norrie, Jane and Sassy, confess their recent sins when Almighty (their grandmother) takes a decision to cut the family out of the inheritence. It was kind of like those shows, where events take place over a period of time, and the story is told from each person's different point of view. Each perspective adding information to the series of events that unfold, each place, each action. And that "technique" (for a lack of better word) is delicious to me.
Norrie is the oldest sister at 17, and is due for her Cotillon. Almighty and all her family have such high expectations of her, to uphold the family honour and all that, but things take a turn for the worst when she finds love in the most unexpected place: speed-reading class in the local college. Robbie is perfect--and 25 years old.
Jane is 16 and a troublemaker. She smokes, swears, fights against authority, etc. And she is sick of the Sullivan family being so admired, that she believes that the public deserves the horrible truth. Presto--Myevilfamily.com is born. Her confession was probably the most entertaining, because I enjoyed reading the blog entries and the hilarious comments it accumulated. While I loved Norrie's part, Jane's seemed a lot better established. Perhaps that is just because I had a clearer idea of what was happening.
Lastly, Sassy's confession. 15 and undeniably invincible, Sassy believes she has done terrible wrong unto the world, but she's just an airhead and a bubbly character. It was fun to finally see what "sin" she had committed, and I just felt like going aww upon finding out.
Other members of the Sullivan family were well-established: especially Ginger and Daddy-O, the mother and father. However, there were a whole lot of names that needed to be remembered throughout the novel, that at first I felt a bit overwhelmed. Luckily by the end I'd gotten everyones' names right, and this was made easier by Standiford's ability to make the characters memorable and distinguished.
The writing style is simple, and each Sullivan sister had a different tone and voice. There were a few times I had to do a re-take to really absorb what was happening, but other than that--perfect. I won't touch on the topic of as to which Sullivan sister Almighty was expecting a confession from, but I'll tell you that it's both surprising and a bit anti-climatic.
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters was just so much fun, and while it was not as heart-breaking or bittersweet as her debut, Standiford rocked the boat with more memorable and upbeat characters; compelling, fresh plots and writing that is both simple and will have lovers of her debut turning pages until the shocking end. I may have been given the opportunity to read this through an ARC tour, but I am definitely going to be buying the paperback of this (because I bought Robot in paperback) when it releases. Natalie Standiford is a standout author, and I can't wait to read more of her work!
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