The Favourite Sister…
About the Book:
From the author of the bestselling debut novel of 2015 Luckiest Girl Alive comes Jessica Knoll’s new thriller, featuring a pair of competitive and uber-successful sisters whose secrets and lies result in murder.
Brett and Kelly Courtney are the shining jewels in a New York-based reality TV show called Goal Diggers. One of the most popular shows on American national television, its fiercely competitive cast of five self-made women are defined by their success, beauty and ruthless drive to reach the top by whatever means necessary.
The Courtney sisters’ rivalry goes skin deep despite the blossoming business they have built together that helps disadvantaged women in Morocco. Harbouring bitter jealousies and dark secrets about their manufactured screen lives they’re joined by three other hyper-competitive women who all have their own agendas. And the latest season promises sparks to fly in the quest for even higher ratings.
Vicious backstabbing, scathing social media attacks and finely-tuned scripting draw in the viewing public every week, all orchestrated by the show’s omnipotent producers. But even they don’t know that season 4 will end in murder…
I tried my hardest with this novel, I really did. I made all sorts of deals with myself in exchange for reading one more chapter, but once I hit 100 pages, I just couldn’t push on. I skipped to the last chapter and then sighed with relief. It’s rare for me to not finish a book but the older I get, the less inclined I am to spend time on something that isn’t giving me joy. And this novel was savage. Brutal and about as far from life affirming as you could get.
What I’m not going to do in this review is pick the novel apart and eviserate the author, but I will make a few points that might help you decide whether or not you want to read The Favourite Sister.
- I am the wrong demographic for this novel. I am too old for all of the carry on between the women, I’m too Australian to buy into all of that superficial bullshit that seemed to drive the women in this story, and I don’t watch reality TV. Ever. I hate it. It’s mind rotting junk and it’s taken over free to air TV leaving nothing at all to watch 90% of the time. It stands to reason that I wouldn’t enjoy a novel about a reality TV show, no matter the type.
- There is a very clever message within this story and if you like reality TV you may appreciate the irony of a feminist reality TV show with an agenda geared towards women hating on each other as a means of improving ratings.
- Jessica Knoll is a very good writer. Her narrative drips with sarcasm and her dialogue is punchy and fast paced. But you do have to pay attention because there is always a lot happening and there are quite a few characters to get your head around.
- I don’t understand who I was meant to care about in this novel. And herein lies the problem. If everyone is awful, why bother? Who cares which one died? Who cares who did it? After 100 pages, I didn’t care, or empathise, with a single character. That’s almost a third of the book. I could feel my mood dipping each time I picked it up to read and that’s a complete contradiction to why I like to read in the first place. I felt strangled by the nastiness, the never ending judgement, the spiteful scheming, the superficiality of their lives. I fear this isn’t a healthy book for young women to read. The last chapter offered no redemption for any of the characters, just more of the same.
I haven’t rated this novel on Goodreads and I won’t. I don’t think it’s fair to rate a novel that I didn’t finish, particularly because this is very much a case of, “it’s not you, it’s me”. Scrolling through the many reviews already up for this novel, it’s one of those polarising reads, with people who seem to either love it or hate it, with nothing in between. There are a lot of readers who didn’t get past the 10% mark. I am sorry that I didn’t enjoy this enough to even finish it. But not every book is for every person. See how you go if you’re game and judge for yourself. I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Favourite Sister.
Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of The Favourite Sister for review.
About the Author:
Jessica Knoll has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan and the articles editor at SELF. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She lives in New York City with her husband. Her first book, Luckiest Girl Alive, was a bestselling novel.
Paperback: ISBN 9781509839964