4 Sisters + 1 Man = Lots of Grief
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This is the story of the Padavano sisters. Julia was born first and then ten months later, along came Sylvie. Twin sisters – Emeline and Cecelia – joined the group a handful of years later. The sisters are extremely close to each other emotionally and to their parents, Rose and Charlie.
As the story opens, Julia is in college and has just met and set her sights on William, a six-foot seven-inch basketball player. His family background is not so full of love. He bills himself as an only child, but the truth of his life is told in the novel’s opening lines: “For the first six days of William Waters’s life, he was not an only child. He had a three-year-old sister, a redhead named Caroline.”
It takes a long time for William to be able to speak of Caroline’s death and equally long for readers to see how impacted he was by it. Not only did he lose a sister, but also his parents, due to their crippled emotions in the aftermath of her death. When William went off to college at age 18 in 1978, “[he] had the strange thought that he might never see his parents again – that they’d only ever had one child, and it wasn’t him.”
You can imagine what it was like for William to fall into the loving Padavano family. Ultimately, he and Julia marry, and have a child, Alice, but they do not live happily ever after. When Alice is an infant, William not only wants a divorce, but he wants to give up custody of Alice. Shaken by all of this, Julia and Alice move from their home near Chicago to New York City. They remain there for over twenty years living with the lie that Julia tells Alice at age five that Alice’s father is dead.
Why on earth would William give up his wife and daughter? What bombshell will keep Julia in New York and away from her sisters for decades? What will eventually bring the sisters back together? And will Alice ever know the truth about her father?
The author does such a great job of telling the reader the complicated truths of William’s, Julia’s – and Sylvie’s – lives that their many decisions over the decades make perfect sense.
Readers of this book will love the Padavano sisters. Those who are familiar with the classic, Little Women, will love them even more.
Click here to read my review of an earlier novel by this author: