I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for My Sister, Myself by Jill Treseder. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to publishers, SilverWood Books, for my review copy.
About the Book
Hungary, 1956 – Russian tanks brutally crush the revolution against the Communist regime. Sisters Katalin and Marika escape Budapest with their family and settle in London.
However, the past is not so easily left behind. Their father is a wanted man, and the sisters’ relationship hangs in the balance. Their futures are shaped by loss. For Katalin, this means the failure of her ambition and a devastating discovery; for Marika, an equally heart-breaking experience.
Caught between their Hungarian heritage and their new lives in Britain, the sisters struggle to reconnect. Family secrets are exposed, jeopardising Katalin’s and Marika’s identities.
Can their relationship survive war, division and grief?
Format: Paperback, ebook (258 pp.) Publisher: SilverWood Books
Published: 31st July 2018 Genre: Fiction
Find My Sister, Myself on Goodreads
From the book description, I think I was expecting much more of the book to deal with events in Hungary during a particularly turbulent, violent and repressive period of its history. What there was, the author conveyed in vivid, often shocking detail, making one wonder what lasting impact witnessing such sights must had have on children like Katalin and Marika. Katalin’s journey with her father across the border to Austria I found a particularly compelling section of the book.
In telling the story of Marika and Katalin, the author has made some interesting stylistic choices, such as having the sections from Katalin’s point of view told in third person and those from Marika’s point of view in first person. Personally, because I had direct access to her thoughts and feelings, this meant I felt more engagement with Marika than with Katalin. In addition, there were switches from past to present tense (sometimes within the same chapter), with memories from the past being written in the present tense and those in the present in the past tense. In the opening chapters, I found this a little confusing; I had to reread those chapters to ensure I’d got the timelines straight in my mind. Klara, Marika’s and Katalin’s aunt, is introduced as an additional narrative voice once the family arrive in England. This did provide an interesting independent perspective on the two sisters’ behaviour and relationship.
If I didn’t learn as much about events in post-war Hungary as I had expected, the author certainly delivered a thought-provoking, emotionally charged depiction of the often troubled relationship between two sisters. From their quarrelsome and fractious childhood to the misunderstandings of their teenage years, the reader gets a compelling insight into how their early experiences shaped them and affected their hopes, fears and dreams. The revelation that occurs part way through the book wasn’t a particular surprise to me (the very subtle signposting by the author was there for an observant reader) although the reaction to it certainly was.
My Sister, Myself is an intriguing story about identity, family ties, divided loyalties, displacement, loneliness, the experience of being an outsider and of trying to find your place in a world that seems unfamiliar, hostile or just plain confusing.
I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, SilverWood Books, and Random Things Tours.
In three words: Thought-provoking, emotional, intimate
Try something similar…Shadows on the Grass by Misha M. Herwin (read my review here)
About the Author
Jill writes: ‘I started writing in a red shiny exercise book when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’ activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of the above.
Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved, but left because I could no longer cope with the system.
This led to a freelance career as an independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle. All these experiences feed into the process of writing fiction, while my non-fiction book, The Wise Woman Within, resulted indirectly from the consultancy work and my subsequent PhD thesis, ‘Bridging Incommensurable Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the University of Bath.
I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in my writing.
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can. I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus and discipline achieved among others in a group.
I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and enjoy being involved in a lively local community.
Connect with Jill