Oct 19, 2011

Book Review: The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon

Title: The Ugly Sister: A Novel by Jane Fallon
Publisher: Penguin (September 29, 2011), 448 pages
Rating: 4/5

'I've decided to go back to modelling,' Cleo says. 'After all, Kate and Naomi still work, so why shouldn't I? It's just that I've been away for a while so I need to get my face out there, show people that I've still got it. And if that means having to endure a few go sees then...'

'Gosh. Good for you.'
The Ugly Sister is a study of sibling rivalry, a novel that does an excellent job of exploring and developing this theme. Told from the point of view of Abi, the younger sister who has grown up overshadowed by her older sister, the book is a character study as well as a novel of late fulfillment and finally realized dreams. It drags just a bit towards the second half of the book but overall it was an enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

Plot summary:
When Abi gets an invitation from her older sister Cloe to spend the summer at her home in London, Abi isn't sure what to make of it. The sisters have not been close since Cloe left home at age 16 to pursue a modeling career. Now Cloe has a family - a successful husband and two little girls, ages 10 and 7 -  and wants to revive her modeling career.

Abi soon begins to suspect that the self-absorbed Cloe only invited her to act as a nanny for the two girls while she goes off on photo shoots and appointments. Cloe's frequent absences from the house brings Abi closer to Cloe's husband Jon and the two girls, and Abi soon has an attack of conscience when she finds herself becoming more and more attracted to Jon. She is horrified when she realizes Jon reciprocates her interest.

Abi's intention has all along been to renew her friendship and her family relationship with her older sister. Abi has always considered herself the "ugly ducking" in the family and her sister Chloe the beautiful swan. Abi tries to discuss their childhood with Cloe, tries to rediscover the girl who used to be her sister Carolyn before Carolyn's name change to the more glamorous "Cloe". Is it too late for the sisters to reunite and be as close as they used to be as children?

About the author: Jane Fallon is a British television producer and novelist. Her book Foursome was nominated for a Melissa Nathan Award. This is her fourth novel.

A complimentary copy of this book was sent to me by Penguin Books.

© Harvee Lau 2011


  1. There sure are a lot of books about sibling rivalry! (I guess my sister and I could inspire a book on that too - LOL)

  2. I think I'd really like this one. It sounds like the kind of stories I gravitate towards.

  3. There are a lot of siblings that seem to really not like each other! Sounds likei a good read!

  4. I don't get sibling rivalry - but then, my half-sister is nearly eighteen years younger than me. (I have two brothers but it's not the same kind of rivalry!)

    So not sure this book would tempt me.

  5. Sounds like a good family drama!


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