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The Prodigal Sister - Laura Elliot

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Laura Elliot / Paperback / Book is published 2009-07-09 by AVON, a division of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

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      06.11.2009 17:51
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      A very enjoyable read

      Sisters Rebecca, Julie and Lauren are travelling from Ireland to attend their younger sister's wedding in New Zealand. This is unlikely to be just any family reunion though as no one had heard from Cathy since she fled from their home fifteen years ago. There are many unresolved issues but Cathy has invited them all with the hope that they can achieve some closure and hopefully move on with their lives.

      This wonderful story follows the sisters on their journey, and through their travels the reader learns more about them. Their parents died in a car accident many years before which left Rebecca as head of the household. She has always taken her responsibilities seriously and it was she who felt Cathy's rejection the most when she left. She also still has a lot of anger towards her younger sister. Julie married her childhood sweetheart when she fell pregnant and although they have stayed together and have three teenage sons, she can't help yearning for the life she never led. Lauren has had to bear the emotional scars of surviving the accident that took their parents' lives. Fragile and vulnerable, she married an older man who treats her like a treasured piece of porcelain that is likely to break. The journey allows each woman the space she needs to re-evaluate her life and to make much needed decisions.

      At the same time, Cathy is nervously waiting for her family, desperately clinging to the hope that she will find the peace she so desires. There is, however, a secret she holds that she is not sure that they will be able to forgive.

      I loved this book from the moment I picked it up and started reading. I instantly warmed to all of the sisters and soon found myself caught up in their lives. I found them all very believable and I enjoyed seeing how their relationships strengthened as their journey progressed. Each of the main characters is very different and each is developed so well throughout the story.

      The story is crafted in an interesting way as the author uses a number of different devices that all work together well. The first part of the book fills in a lot of the detail of the sisters' past. We learn what has happened either through reading extracts from Rebecca's diary or reading letters that Cathy wrote to her dead mother. This works really well as the reader learns the story from two different perspectives. At the same time, the sisters embark on their travels so we also get an interesting contrast between then and now. I really liked the way that the story unfolded little by little in this way.

      Much of the book covers the journey through New Zealand. I loved reading about all the different exploits from bungee jumping to swimming with dolphins as they travelled from town to town following Rebecca's strict itinerary in their cramped camper van. This road trip could have almost formed a novel in its own right, and, I'm sure for anyone who has visited New Zealand, it would have evoked many memories. It is a country that I have never been to but reading about all the different places certainly gave me an appetite to visit.

      This excellent story absorbed me from the very start. The gentle pace lured me and as the story moved on to its dramatic climax I was totally hooked - so much so that I was somewhat disappointed when it was all over and that's the proof of a very good book!

      The book is available on Amazon for £4.36. The review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk

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