Sisters who’ll stop at nothing!
Check out the cover reveal for A Tale of Two Sisters on the sites of these lovely people:
Cover Reveal: A Tale of Two Sisters, by Gabrielle Mullarkey
Cover Reveal: A Tale of Two Sister’s by Gabrielle Mullarkey
She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister…
I grew up intrigued by that song in White Christmas where Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney sing ‘sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters’, later parodied in the same film by Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. Maybe it’s because the lyrics lend themselves to a fair bit of lampoonery – ‘lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister, and lord help the sister who comes between me and my man!’
Or maybe it’s because the lyrics extol a bond more honoured in the breach than the observance…
More than any other blood bond, sisterhood is fraught with potential for passionate loyalty, rivalry or misunderstanding, whether it’s ‘lord help the sister who comes between me and my man’ or, in the case of Cleopatra bumping off Arsinoe (allegedly), lord help the half-sis who comes between me and my territorial ambition.
Perhaps it’s a simple case of ‘the other woman’ in the family being too close for comfort, both to each other and in competing for the spoils of parental affection and approval. There’s even a theory that women model workplace behaviour towards each other on formative scrapping with sisters to come out on top, mirroring the way brothers have long jostled for dominance (Cain and Abel, anyone?).
On the other hand, it’s all too easy to slip into stereotypes, in this case pigeonholing infighting among sisters as the inevitable by-product of limited resources or opportunities: ‘when a certain gentleman arrived from Rome, she wore the gown and I stayed home.’
Presumably, with gritted teeth.
Besides, sisters are doing it for themselves these days. If there is still a hint of watchful scrutiny among the workplace or family sorority, that’s a hangover from the need to be creative in finding an outlet for ambition. Long thwarted, suppressed, married off or told to sit down and stitch a sampler, you could argue that women have had to be far more imaginative than men (busy liking the cut of each other’s jib as they make deals in the club house) to see the occasional wish fulfilled. Then, when we do start to fulfil our potential, bypassing the old boys’ network, we’re often accused of being ‘manipulative’.
Of course, these are broad strokes, all arising from a good mull over that loaded word, ‘sisterhood’.
One of my favourite books growing up was Little Women, about the enduring differences but also abiding love between the March girls, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. I tend to revisit LW depending on what mood I’m in, possibly identifying with the traits that a particular sister embodies (excluding the saintly Beth).
As the middle of three sisters in my own family, I grew up sharing a room, but little else, with the youngest. We never got as far as arguing over boys, but there were plenty of coat hanger fights and bandied-about accusations of sock drawer thefts. Today we are still chalk and cheese. And when I listen to my mum, now in her 80s, recalling an unrighted wrong done to her by her sister when she was 13, I realise how deep the fissures run: deep, dark, and glistening with treasures to mine for my story of feuding sisters with nothing – it seems – in common. Until they end up with too much in common.
Would I give either of my sisters my last Rollo? Probably. But lord help the sister who makes off my Lindt bunny.