New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... - Nicky Pel­le­grino BOOKS EDITOR

I’m al­ways fas­ci­nated by the lives the chil­dren of fa­mous peo­ple must lead; half in the lime­light and half out; the ones be­hind the scenes who see what the celebrity is re­ally like. That’s what Jane Green’s lat­est novel The Sun­shine Sis­ters is all about and it def­i­nitely didn’t leave me feel­ing en­vi­ous of Suri Cruise or lit­tle Blue Ivy!

Ronni Sun­shine is a faded B-list movie star. Beau­ti­ful, vain and self-ob­sessed, she was a ter­ri­ble wife and mother. Her three daugh­ters have all been left scarred by their up­bring­ing in dif­fer­ent ways and over the years have be­come es­tranged from one another.

Nell is a fiercely in­de­pen­dent sin­gle mum who has closed down emo­tion­ally. Mered­ith is a frag­ile peo­ple pleaser who has set­tled for a life that is en­tirely wrong for her. And Lizzy, the one who most takes after her mother, is a beau­ti­ful and suc­cess­ful celebrity chef, but also deeply un­happy.

When Ronni dis­cov­ers she is dy­ing, she calls her daugh­ters home to be at her side. But they don’t re­alise she is be­ing as ma­nip­u­la­tive as ever. And part of her scheme is to try to heal the rift be­tween them all.

As the sis­ters come to­gether, old jeal­ousies and in­se­cu­ri­ties sur­face. But the re­union of this dys­func­tional fam­ily also trig­gers some­thing else for the women and each re­thinks her life in cru­cial ways.

This novel is your clas­sic beach read, de­signed as a light-hearted es­cape and an easy page-turner. How much you love it will prob­a­bly de­pend on whether you warm to its char­ac­ters.

Nell is cold, Mered­ith is a bit wet and Lizzy has got tick­ets on her­self so po­ten­tially you won’t like any of them!

Even so, it would be dif­fi­cult not to get caught up in the story, whether you’re re­lax­ing on a sun-lounger or hud­dled be­neath a rug on the sofa.

Jane Green has a skill for warm, in­sight­ful writ­ing about com­plex fam­ily re­la­tion­ships and her style is breezy and chatty. I’d de­scribe The Sun­shine Sis­ters as a “com­fort read”, un­de­mand­ing and di­vert­ing but not a novel you want to think too deeply about after you’ve flipped over the last page.

Oh, and by the way, the cover – which is very pretty – ap­pears to have noth­ing to do with the story at all!

The Sun­shine Sis­ters by Jane Green (Macmillan, RRP $34.99).

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