Book Review: The Half Sister by Sandie Jones
By Ray PalenJuly 6, 2020
Throughout the annals of fiction there have been oodles of situations involving mistaken identity. We’ve seen it in fairy tales, Shakespeare’s plays, and many Disney films. In recent fiction, it has been a go-to for many mystery stories and authors like Robert Goddard from the U.K. has used the gimmick multiple times.
This brings us next to another British author, Sandie Jones. Sandie hit the big-time with her debut novel, The Other Woman, when it was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club (which probably means we will see a film or cable series produced by Reese in the near future). The Half Sister does not hide what it is about. We simply have an apparently normal, small family that is rocked when a young woman shows up at their door claiming to share the same father with her two new half-sisters.
First we meet younger sister Kate, who with her husband Matt, has been trying for years to become pregnant. They are at their fertility doctor’s office trying for one final time to get pregnant through a form of insemination. Kate simply feels incomplete as a woman if she cannot bear at least one child. Her older sister, Lauren, has a family with children, and is a worrier and bleeding heart who is ready to believe almost anything. Their mother, Rose, still has her daughters over regularly and enjoys cooking for them and their families. Their father, Harry, passed away a few years earlier and he is sorely missed by all. Their world is rocked when one day, as everyone is convened at Rose’s home, the doorbell rings. The visitor announces herself as Jess—Harry’s daughter.
Jess goes on to state that she was doing a genealogy mapping when she found that she had a father she was not aware of and that he was indeed Harry. Sandie Jones shares narration of the story with sisters Kate and Lauren and you get two completely different points of view. Kate is extremely suspicious and skeptical of Jess and sees her visit as an intrusion in all their lives and a besmirching of her father’s good name. Lauren, on the other hand, welcomes Jess with open arms and enjoys spending time with her new ‘sister’.
The dark horse in the novel is the matriarch, Rose. It is obvious she knows more than she is letting on. Just how much she knows is where the heart of this mystery lies. Are we dealing with a dark family secret that has been hidden for decades or is Jess a complete fraud with ulterior motives for dropping in on this innocent family? Jones does a great job of keeping the reader teetering between these two possibilities, watching your allegiance switch from character to character. She has another hit on her hands as this sophomore effort is a solid psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.