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Review of The True and Splendid History of The Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric

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About The True and Splendid History of The Harristown Sisters

It is the age of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, when Europe burns with a passion for long-flowing locks. And when seven sisters, born into fatherless poverty in Ireland, grow up with hair cascading down their backs, to their ankles, and beyond, men are not slow to recognise their potential.

It begins with a singing and dancing septet, with Irish jigs kicked out in dusty church halls. But it is not the sisters’ singing or their dancing that fills the seats: it is the torrents of hair they let loose at the end of each show. And their hair will take dark-hearted Darcy, bickering twins Berenice and Enda, plain Pertilly, gentle Oona, wild Ida and fearful, flame-haired Manticory – the inimitable narrator of their on-and-off stage adventures – out of poverty, through the dance halls of Ireland, to the salons of Dublin and the palazzi of Venice. It will bring some of them love and each of them loss. For their past trails behind the sisters like the tresses on their heads, and their fame and fortune will come at a terrible price…

My Review

Lovric possesses a wonderful gift of language. Her prose is stunning. She also has a talent for witty banter as we soon discover with the sisters insistent bickering. Loosely based on the Seven Sutherland Sisters nonfictional story, we find Lovric’s version highly entertaining with a sharp gothic edge. Very clever, dark, humorous and touches of romance all blending nicely to create a fascinating character driven plot. The sisters are constantly at war, enjoyable at first but after a length it quickly turns to annoying, however, you understand their severe squabbling as the ending approaches, making it all fall neatly into place. Despite the fiction between the sisters, they are entangled together dependent on each other for fame and fortune, success avail as only a team. Darcy the brutal domineering, money-grubbing leader bullies the clan while allowing for outsiders to promote and take advantage of the sisters, eventually the consequences catch up and its dues ensue. Parts are outlandish leaning towards a dark fair tale feel, although the hair premise keeps you focused as well as the very individual sisters with their trials and tribulations. Well crafted somewhat enthralling read. Lovric’s writing is outstanding, making the reading adventure worthwhile. Memorable tale.

About Michelle Lovric15540

Michelle Lovric is a novelist, writer and anthologist.

Her third novel, The Remedy, was long-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction. The Remedy is a literary murder-mystery set against the background of the quack medicine industry in the eighteenth century.

Her first novel, Carnevale, is the story of the painter Cecilia Cornaro, described by The Times as the possessor of ‘the most covetable life’ in fiction in 2001.

In Lovric’s second novel, The Floating Book, a chorus of characters relates the perilous beginning of the print industry in Venice. The book explores the translation of raw emotion into saleable merchandise from the points of view of poets, editors, publishers – and their lovers. The Floating Book, a London Arts award winner, was also selected as a WH Smith ‘Read of the Week’.

Her first novel for young adult readers, The Undrowned Child, is published by Orion. The sequel is due in summer 2010.

Her fourth adult novel, The Book of Human Skin, is published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2010.

Lovric reviews for publications including The Times and writes travel articles about Venice. She has featured in several BBC radio documentaries about Venice.

She combines her fiction work with editing, designing and producing literary anthologies including her own translations of Latin and Italian poetry. Her book Love Letters was a New York Times best-seller.

Lovric divides her time between London and Venice. She holds a workshop in her home in London with published writers of poetry and prose, fiction and memoir.

Published June 5th 2014 by Bloomsbury UK (first published 2014)

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