Book Talk: Suspenseful mystery of sisterly love

Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:32am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - Practical, bossy Beatrice has always taken care of her sister, Tess. So when she learns that Tess has disappeared, she goes to London to sort things out -- only to find out that she appears to have killed herself.

But Beatrice, the narrator of Rosamund Lupton's "Sister," refuses to accept the verdict. She digs into her sister's life and discovers not only that Tess was pregnant, but also that she was taking part in an experimental, and mysterious, medical trial.

Speaking in the form of a letter to Tess, Beatrice defies the expectations of those around her who see only a sister in denial and grows increasingly obsessed with her search -- an obsession that may endanger her own life.

Lupton, who said she was inspired partly by her close ties to her younger sister, spoke to Reuters about her book and writing.

Q: Why the letter form? Isn't that a little bit risky?

A: "Two reasons, actually. I was a script writer for years, so writing it from one character to another actually felt a bit like one half of a dialogue. It sounds rather cerebral but I found it quite a dramatic way to write a book because she's continually addressing her sister. I'm just used to writing in that way and it was a whole book that came, not a dialogue.

"And my sister and I went to different boarding schools when we were children, and we used to write to each other. I think there's a jigsaw letter in the book and also one with lemon juice, which are actually things that my sister and I used when we were writing to each other to avoid our house mistress, who used to vet our letters. I'm not quite sure what they thought an 11-year-old would be saying. So I'd get an envelope full of a broken up jigsaw puzzle and it'd be her letter. It's just something I'm used to doing with my own sister so I thought I'd use it in the book."

Q: How did you achieve the kind of pacing -- was it something you learned from scripts or TV pacing?   Continued...