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A gorgeous, piercing memoir of two families linked through betrayal - and of the fierce childhood will to survive in them. A gorgeous, piercing memoir of two families linked through adult betrayal - and of the fierce childhood will to survive in them. When Jane Alison was a child, her family met another that seemed like its mirror: a father in the Foreign Service, a beautiful mother, and two little girls, the younger two - one of them Jane - sharing a birthday. With so much in common, the two families became almost instantly inseparable. Within months, affairs had ignited between the adults, and before long the pairs had exchanged partners - divorced, remarried, and moved on. As if in a cataclysm of nature, two families were ripped asunder, and two new ones were formed. Two pairs of girls were left in shock, a 'silent, numb shock, like a crack inside stone, not enough to split it but inside, quietly fissuring'. And Jane and her stepsister were thrown into a state of wordless combat for the love of their fathers. The sisters' contest, recounted by Jane Alison with stunning emotional insight, is waged throughout less-than-innocent childhoods - and ends in a tragedy that is at the same time unthinkable and inevitable. 'From its calm, startling first sentence, this book is a clear-eyed account of a tumultuous childhood that happened, literally and figuratively, all over the place. Jane Alison writes about displacement, identity, belonging, fear, and, perhaps most incredibly, rivalry. She may have felt insecure as a child, but she's incredibly secure as a writer; and it's this strange mixture - precise and graceful descriptions of profoundly unsettling events - that underlies the alchemy of this book.' - Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index . 'Mordant honesty rendered in luminous, lyrical terms.' - Booklist . 'An incomparable personal story exquisitely, stunningly told.' - Kirkus Reviews .
- Allen & Unwin, April 2009
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