Sister (Lupton)

Rosamund Lupton, 2010
Crown Publishing
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780307716521

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans.

Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered.  Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess's apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister's life--and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances.

Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong.  As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder—and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

A thrilling story of fierce love between siblings, Sister is a suspenseful and accomplished debut with a stunning twist. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Rasied—Little Chesterford in Essex, England, UK
Education—B.A., Cambridge University
Awards—New Writers' Award (Carton Television)
Currently—lives in London, England

Rosamund Lupton is a British author of three novels—Sister (2010), Afterwards (2012), and The Quality of Silence (2016). She studied literature at Cambridge University and lives in London with her husband and two children.

In her first novel, Sister, she tells the story of Beatrice, living in New York, in search for Tess, her missing sister, who lives in London. Sister was a great commercial success, selling well over a million copies worldwide. It has been translated in 30 languages, and it was a best-seller on the New York Times and London's Sunday Times lists.

Her second novel Afterwards was awarded "best mystery books of 2012" by the Seattle Times, and "best book of 2012" by Amazon USA.

Her third novel, The Quality of Silence, follows an astrophysicist and her deaf daughter through the Alaskan wilderness in search of their husband/father. It was optioned by FilmNation in March 2016.

Before turning to novels, Lupton was a script-writer for television and film, writing original screenplays. She won Carlton Television's new writers' competition. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 3/24/2016.)

Book Reviews
A taut, hold-your-breath-and-your-handkerchief thriller.... Like Kate Atkinson, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell, Lupton builds suspense not only around the causes and details of her story's brutal denouement, but also around the personalities and motivations of those who lunge and those who duck.... Both tear-jerking and spine-tingling, Sister provides an adrenaline rush that could cause a chill on the sunniest afternoon.
Liesl Schillinger - New York Times

A fast-paced, absurdly entertaining novel.... Along with a juicy mystery, it resounds with an authentic sense of sisterly love and loyalty.
Boston Globe

[An] unusual and searing debut... At the harrowing conclusion, Bee's aching heart accepts that "grief is love turned into an eternal missing."
Publishers Weekly

Beautifully written with an unexpected twist at the end, this debut literary thriller was a best seller in Britain and a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick. Thriller fans will eagerly await Lupton's next book. —Marianne Fitzgerald, Annapolis, MD
Library Journal

(Starred review.) Lupton’s remarkable debut novel is a masterful, superlative-inspiring success that will hook readers (and keep them guessing) from page one.... A chilling, gripping, tragic, heart-warming, life-affirming enigma of a story.

Hitchcockian spookiness in this tale of two sisters—one living, one dead—in London.... Lupton's decision to make Bee the narrator—and to have her write to her dead sister—enhance the book's eeriness. A skillfully wrought psychological thriller.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. What were your initial theories about how Tess died? How would you have pursued the case if you had been one of the DIs?

2. How does Bee and Tess’s relationship compare to the way you and your siblings interact? What causes the most disagreement between you? What brings you together, no matter what?

3. What did the sisters’ mother teach them about motherhood and being a fulfilled woman? What did she teach them about love?

4. How did their father’s absence affect the way Bee and Tess felt about men?

5. Both sisters are involved in creative fields, even debating typefaces in their emails. What does Tess express in her paintings? Is there any room for self-expression in Bee’s commercial design work?

6. Do you think Bee discovers anything new about her sister in a deep way-  for example when she meets her landlord Amias and friends Kasia and Simon? How much of what Beatrice discovers is about herself?

7. What does the novel say about resilience, both physical and emotional, and where it comes from?

8. How does the memory of Leo affect the Hemming family?

9. Though Bee acknowledges that she and her sister are not devout Catholics, how does their Catholicism affect their view of the world (in an Anglican nation, no less)?

10. Why was Tess drawn to Emilio, and Kasia to Mitch? Would you have been more attracted to Todd or to William?

11. Discuss the novel’s structure. How did it affect you as the narrator referred to Tess as “you”? What was your understanding of Mr. Wright and his role?

12. Dr. Nichols, Professor Rosen, and William all inhabit the world of diagnosis and treatment. How do their three different roles (and mindsets) reflect the realities of modern medicine? 

13. Though Chrom-Med is a fictional company, what real-life questions about gene therapy are raised by the novel? What is the ethical way to apply humanity’s knowledge of the human genome?

14. Discuss the novel’s stunning closing scenes. What do you predict for the aftermath?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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