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Author: Nancy Jensen Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Audio Length: Release Date: November 2011 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781483059990

Publisher Description

In the tradition of Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge comes a dazzling debut novel about the family bonds that remain even when they seem irretrievably torn apart.

Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fischer and her older sister, Mabel, have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings. But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters’ and granddaughters’ lives.

What happens when nothing turns out as you planned? From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful, Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters—and sisters—of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem. Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen’s debut novel illuminates the far-reaching power of family and family secrets.

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  • “You’ll be drawn into the arms of The Sisters as if these women were your own family. You’ll want to hold them, warn them, betray their secrets. But this is a novel, one that is fresh and vibrant and complex. You cannot live the sisters’ lives, but only share in their joy and heartbreak and ultimate triumph. A remarkably powerful book.”

    - Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author
  • “A beautiful and touching novel about the events and choices that shape not only our lives but the lives of generations to come. Nancy Jensen takes us on an epic yet intimate journey through eighty years, ultimately revealing the flawed but lovely landscape that makes up a family. Her characters will stay with us long after the book’s final pages.”

    - Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author
  • “In alternating chapters, Jensen chronicles the difficult, often traumatic lives of four generations of women who descend from the Fischer sisters…While the legacy of Mabel’s courageous sacrifice and Bertie’s barely suppressed anger is ‘a map of sadness and loss,’ it’s brightened by their resilience and the promise seen in the youngest members of the family.”

    - Publishers Weekly
  • “Cassandra Campbell’s narration is warm, rich, and a pleasure to listen to. She creates distinctive voices for all the characters, and her tone conveys deep empathy and compassion. Campbell is even able to make the stepfather—who is evil and wholly unsympathetic—believable and authentic, his voice tough and hard yet laden with the frustrations and disappointments of his own life. Additionally, Campbell lends voices to the book’s numerous children and grandchildren that reflect their separate personalities and dreams.”

    - Publishers Weekly (starred audio review)
  • “I have seldom read a debut novel that has moved me more deeply than The Sisters. This story of Mabel and Bertie covers eighty years and three generations of women who fight the battlefields of their past, tangled links and secrets, not able to unlock what they have kept ‘caged,’ and not being able to reveal what they have shared during their divisions and reunions. The author’s unique talent to tell a story about ‘her women’ will take you on a journey with these poignant characters and open your heart to every emotion it can possibly hold. Heartwarming, heart-wrenching, and so beautifully told that you will find yourself walking each step in the soulful shadows of the sisters and the loved ones they try, in each their own way, to protect. This is a five-star plus recommendation from me.”

    - Carol Hicks, the Bookshelf, Truckee, California
  • “This is a gripping novel of how one missed connection between two sisters can affect the generations to follow…The novel covers generations of women beginning in 1927 and ending in 2007. Each of their lives changed because of one misunderstanding. Each generation struggles to find their own way in life and to maintain the fragile connections of family. Hauntingly real, this will make a great book club choice.”

    - Karen Vail, Titcomb’s Bookshop, Massachusetts
  • “This is a powerful story of women, two sisters from a small town in Kentucky. In 1927, a tragedy and a misunderstanding separate them when they are both in their teens. We follow their stories and those of their daughters up to 2007. Jensen shows us lives cobbled together out of fear and pain that her strong women are able to use as building blocks to something resembling happiness or at least stability. Jensen’s debut novel is a page-turner as each decade brings new questions and new answers about our protagonists’ lives.”

    - Marian Nielsen, Orinda Books, California
  • “The American Dream has most often been a myth, particularly for women, with reality usually being a hardscrabble life with survival being the main goal. In The Sisters, Mabel and Bertie and their succeeding generations span the twentieth century, and their struggles mirror those of the society surrounding them. While crucial decisions and misunderstandings often lead to tragedy for the women of the two families, the characters demonstrate a strength and resilience that enables each to eventually triumph and lead a life of substance on their own terms…Readers will be both provoked and moved by this story of two sisters whose lives are lived apart yet, in the end, always tied by the bonds of blood and love.”

    - Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • “Cassandra Campbell provides a gripping performance…Campbell narrates this epic story with grace and understanding…Nancy Jensen’s compelling novel unfolds a tapestry woven across generations, intricate in its detail, illustrating the events that tear families apart yet bind them, inextricably, together.”

    - AudioFile


  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: Fiction about Love and Family
  • Selected for the December 2011 Indie Next List

Customer Reviews

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  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

    " Overdue and on-hold for the next person. Not interesting enough to pay a fine for another day "

    - Mary, 2/15/2014
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " I really enjoyed this book but found myself looking at the family tree to keep characters in order. Despite that it was hRd to put down "

    - Barbara, 2/12/2014
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " I would rate this a 3.5 if possible. I found the overall theme totally plausible in that secrets, and especially any misconceptions surrounding them, can and often do have effects that can last for generations. As human beings, we do bring every major situation that has happened to us, whether resolved or not, to each relaitonship. I also accept that not all plots have resolutions...just as life-changing events quite often never achieve closure. My biggest problem with the novel came from the choppiness I found in the author's telling of major events and some of the time lapses as well as the occasional implausibility of some of the characters' actions. For me, this detracted from an overall very good book. "

    - Connie, 2/11/2014
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " Quite possibly one of the most depressing books I've read in a long time. This is not for those who prefer a happy ending with all the loose ends tied up. The story follows two sisters whose lives are tragically altered by an event that separates them from each other. It continues on with the stories of their children and grandchildren and how even their lives are affected by the event in the sisters' lives. The major point for me was the concept that our past hurts can anchor us down so deeply into one spot that we never fully live our lives. "

    - Jenifer, 2/8/2014
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " This held my interest but was a bit unsatisfactory due to the lack of resolution in the basic storyline. "

    - Mary, 2/6/2014
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Loved this book. The author is from KY. Which since that is where I'm from I enjoyed reading. Couldn't put it down "

    - Sharla, 1/24/2014
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " A beautifully written debut novel that spans eighty years and multiple generations, this novel traces the fallout following tragic circumstances and a terrible misunderstanding between two sisters. "

    - Christine, 1/18/2014
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " I enjoyed this book for the most part, but felt unfulfilled at the end and its often-bleak plot lines did not build as I thought they would. "

    - Allison, 1/17/2014
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " It shows how a choice can change the course of many lives throughout the book. I wanted the sisters to reunite throughout the book. "

    - Robin, 12/25/2013
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " I enjoyed the twists and turns and the what ifs??? "

    - Sharon, 12/20/2013
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " I really liked this one "

    - Kathie, 12/14/2013
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " weak women...all make poor choices in men and life decisions. the very beginning and the very end were good. "

    - Gretchen, 12/9/2013
  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

    " Forgetable; Slow and left many loose ends. Wouldn't recommend. "

    - Hurricanecelia, 11/15/2013
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " Good story line. It was written a little choppy. It was an okay read. "

    - Merrikay, 10/3/2013
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " A beautiful and heartbreaking story that fell a bit flat at times because I couldn't help but feel that I had read similar tales before. "

    - MaryKate, 3/15/2013
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " It was a good read about the complexities of keeping secrets between sisters. "

    - Roseanne, 1/8/2013
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " I started out really liking this book but the chapters moved forward quickly changing POV each time. Sometimes this works well but I wished there was more about the two main characters rather than their children and their children's children. "

    - Cindy, 9/19/2012
  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

    " A meandering book with a surprise ending. "

    - Linda, 7/12/2012
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " I really enjoyed the first half of this book with the story of two sisters. I got a bit confused when later generations were added, I had to keep referring to the family tree to remember where the characters fit in. I also was disappointed that the ending didn't include reunions. "

    - De, 6/30/2012
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " I liked this story in spite of the gaps in the storytelling. The characters were interesting yet underdeveloped. I liked the underlying story of sacrifice and family. I wish there had been a better resolution to the storyline. Overall, a decent read. "

    - Heidi, 5/30/2012
  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5

    " Too many characters, too much of a time frame, and I just didn't see the point. I finished the book hoping to find some great tie in or twist at the end - bummer for me. "

    - Elise, 2/29/2012
  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5

    " Started off as a promising read, by halfway id didn't think any more self-loathing women or abusive men could be brought into it; by the end it had just petered out into a book of unresolved misery. Won't be sharing this one. It will make a good book end though "

    - Fiona, 1/14/2012

About the Author

Nancy Jensen is a graduate of the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College. Her short stories and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals, including Northwest Review, Other Voices, Under the Sun, and the Louisville Review. She lives in Kentucky, where she was awarded an Artist Enrichment grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. The Sisters is her first novel.

About the Narrator

Cassandra Campbell has won multiple Audie Awards, Earphones Awards, and the prestigious Odyssey Award for narration. She was been named a “Best Voice” by AudioFile magazine and in 2018 was inducted in Audible’s inaugural Narrator Hall of Fame.