What if your beloved father was not all you thought him to be? How could his death change your life?
From the best-selling author of “Helen of Pasadena” and “Elizabeth the First Wife” comes “The Sweeney Sisters” by Lian Dolan (William Morrow). Dolan, the creator and host of the popular “Satellite Sisters” podcast (along with her siblings Julie, Liz, Sheila and Monica), writes as someone who has lived the sisterhood on a daily basis. Protagonists Liza, Maggie and Tricia Sweeney are intelligent, talented and willful women blessed with dry humor and rich hearts, forced to deal with the messy consequences resulting from the sudden death of their father.
The fallout is enormous as William Sweeney was no ordinary man. Lionized as both a bestselling author and respected Yale professor, Sweeney was a Hemingway-esque individual who left behind a myriad of troublesome secrets. Those secrets unfold throughout this entertaining and page-turning book.
The first is revealed soon after Sweeney’s wake with the revelation of an unknown fourth sister. Serena Tucker had lived next door to the Sweeney family for most of her life never knowing her true lineage until a few months before Sweeney’s death. A DNA test kit given to her as a gift revealed the results. An only child, she now is the oldest of the Sweeney sisters; William Sweeney’s death gives her the opening to reveal her existence to the other three. How will they take it, and what will be Serena’s place in this family?
A TIGHT-KNIT SISTERHOOD AND A SECRETIVE FATHER
Entering into this tight-knit thirties-something sisterhood won’t be easy. Liza, the oldest (until the discovery of Serena) is good-hearted while being dutiful and controlling to a fault. Recognized by her tony Darien, Conn., community as an “asset,” Liza married well and raised her twins while running a successful art gallery. She cared for her ailing father, holding the family together after their mother, Maeve, died of cancer in her 40s.
Maggie, the middle sister, takes most after her father’s temperament: gifted (as an artist rather than a writer), erratic and narcissistic. She is big-hearted but wholly unreliable. Tricia, the youngest, is a high-powered lawyer. She has earned the respect of her older sisters by being competent and efficient, but at the expense of her personal life.
Born into the same privilege as the Sweeney sisters, Serena has enjoyed her own professional accomplishments in journalism. Now she is mulling over the possibility of turning this twist in her life into a blockbuster memoir.
Serena’s existence is not the only revelation. William Sweeney hoped to have the last word, having written his own memoir with explicit instructions that it not be published until after his death. The manuscript is missing and the sisters have one month to find it before the publishers take legal action. But that is the least of their troubles.
Suffice it to say that the joint efforts of Liza, Maggie, Tricia and Serena succeed in straightening out the mess their father left behind with the result being a strengthening of the bonds of sisterhood. Serena’s published work will grant the Sweeney sisters the final word in the end.
Dolan’s writing is breezy and transparent. Her solid structuring of the book allowed for four distinct points of view along with several twists and turns: no small feat. “The Sweeney Sisters” was a most satisfying read.
To find out more about “The Sweeney Sisters,” visit Lian Dolan’s website where you can also find her podcast: liandolan.com.
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