From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.
Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.
Sally Hepworth is such a master story-teller! She will keep your attention until the very last page and misdirect it all the time. She will create characters you’ll love and hate and ache for when they are mistreated, abused or simply misunderstood. She will make you question everything and everybody and then will show you that people care and there are these mysterious things called empathy, hope and love…
Twenty eight year old twin sisters Roseand Fern are as different as you can imagine them to be. Rose is the responsible one, the worrier…and well she has plenty of things to worry about: her failing (or is it already failed?) marriage, fertility problems, coupled with a burning desire for motherhood, and her sister Fern, who has never been officially diagnosed with high-functioning autism, but does require a lot of care and support. Fern with her penchant for colourful clothes and princess Leila hairbuns, Fern who needs to do quite a lot of thinking to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of social clues, Fern who suffers from sensory overload issues, and yet, is surprisingly good at doing her job of a librarian. Fern and Rose have been keeping a terrible secret for many years that has cemented their reliance on each other and their bond.
Once you get to know the story of Rose and Fern’s childhood, how their mother raised them, why and what they had to protect each other from, perhaps you will understand the sisters better. Or perhaps not. The story is told from two points of- Rose (plus her diary written following her therapist’s advice) and Fern, and sooner or later you will have to decide whose narrative you trust more and what it all means for the plot.
The characters are wonderful. If I tell you more, I really risk giving away the story. Why are we so fascinated by twins? Is it because we seek an answer to the old question of nature versus nurture in a hope to avoid becoming our parents? at any rate, Sally Hepworth does a fantastic job of creating well-developed protagonists and a whole cast of interesting supporting characters with a few strokes of her pen. Even if you don’t like reading twisty thrillers, read this book for the way it raises awareness of sensory processing issues.
This is a psychological thriller, so be ready to ask yourself some questions about family dynamics, sibling love and the role we play in each other’s lives. Or should I say the roles? they may go back a long way, but it doesn’t mean they are set in stone.
Once again, Sally Hepworth surpassed my expectations with this riveting thriller, full of engaging characters and family drama.
Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martin’s Press for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
Thank you for reading the post!
Have you read The Good Sister or is it on your tbr?
Have you read any other thrillers by Sally Hepworth?