"If I didn't spy, I'd be in the dark eternally. I live in a maze of
unknowing - Maisie's maze - and I hate it. I need to be informed."
Summer 1967: Thirteen-year-old Maisie is at her family's home, a decaying medieval abbey in the heart of rural Suffolk. Lucas, a student and friend, is painting a portrait of Maisie and her older sisters, Julia and Finn. In turn, Maisie embarks upon a portrait of her own: She begins an account of her family and of a summer in which their lives will irrevocably, and terribly, change.
She introduces us to arrogant, beautiful Julia; to intellectual, magnetic Finn; to honorable, conventional Nicholas, a neighbor training to be a doctor; and Gypsy-blooded Daniel Nunn, a village friend to the sisters and a longtime idol of Maisie's.
More than twenty years later, Lucas's now-famous portrait of the three sisters is the centerpiece in a major London retrospective of his work. Daniel, who's risen from rural poverty to a wealthy but soulless and troubled London existence, finds himself still obsessed with the three sisters and haunted by the summer of 1967. Now he embarks on a journey to understand what happened to their lives - and seek redemption for his own.
A dramatic, atmospheric novel in a grand storytelling tradition, The Sisters Mortland is beguiling, complex, hauntingly sad, and often dazzlingly funny. A tour de force of tales within tales, it sets the capstone on bestselling author Sally Beauman's literary career.
[ one ]
Summer Maisie, 1967
WHEN WE FIRST CAME to the Abbey, it rained for five days. Nonstop. I'd
been warned that this could happen in England, in spring and in summer,
but I hadn't believed it. Every morning, we'd sit in silence at
breakfast. Gramps hid behind his newspaper; my sisters fixed their eyes
on their plates; my mother stared at air. I had to be propped up on
three cushions to reach the table. Outside the windows was a wet,
The laurels by the house hadn't been cut back then, and they dripped dismal black tears. Beyond them, you could see a corner of the old cloister, with a gargoyle spouting rain from mouth and eyes. The lawn had reverted to pasture, and the grasses bowed their heads like a congregation of penitents. The English air was a thick, peculiar mauve. The wind keened: The ground...
About the author: Sally Beauman was born in Devon, England and read English Literature at Girton College, Cambridge where she graduated in 1966. Immediately after graduating, she went to live in America for three years, first in Washington DC, and then New York. During her time there she traveled extensively, visiting most of the states in the union: her experiences in the South in the year prior to the assassination of Martin Luther King, provided some of the background for her first novel, Destiny (1987). It earned her a record sum for a first novel: published in the US by Bantam, it became a New York Times number 1 bestseller, and went on to top the bestseller lists in the UK, Canada, Australia and South Africa. It has ...
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