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The Three Sisters

May Sinclair

Book Overview: 

Fascinated as she was by the lives of the Brontë siblings, May Sinclair loosely based her subtly sensual, quietly insurrectionary 1914 novel The Three Sisters on the Haworth moor milieu of the three literary Brontë sisters. Alice, Gwenda, and Mary Cartaret are the daughters of the Vicar of Garth, an abusive father with rigid, selfish expectations for female behavior. Hope of rescue seems to dawn in the person of an idealistic young doctor in the village, but this is no Austen romance. Described with Edwardian restraint, it is still sexual passion that is the underlying theme of the story: the rebellion of human sensuality in almost every major character in the story against the artificial constraints of conventional Society and Religion. Sinclair, herself a fascinating hybrid of Victorian and modern, shows the desperate, inertial ennui inherent in the lives of unmarried late-Victorian women dependent on their male guardians but fired by dreams and desires of their own. Sinclair's gently seditious fiction is always deeply imbued with philosophy as well as human psychology, giving it rich layers of interest.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .He waited in the crowded shabby gray and amber drawing-room with the
Erard in the corner, and it was there that she came to him.

He said he had only called to ask after her sister, as he had heard in the village that she was not so well.

"I'm afraid she isn't."

"May I see her? I don't mean professionally—just for a talk."

The formula came easily. He had used it hundreds of times in the houses of parsons and of clerks and of little shopkeepers, to whom bills were nightmares.

She took him upstairs.

On the landing she turned to him.

"She doesn't look worse. She looks better."

"All right. She won't deceive me."

She did look better, better than he could have believed. There was a faint opaline dawn of color in her face.

Heaven only knew what he. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I very much liked this book. I whizzed through it in two days... 4.5 stars for me.

Read a few years ago as part of an MA along with a couple of other May Sinclair works. Highly enjoyable and very well written.

Tre sorelle, un padre-vicario, una casa-canonica, la vastità della brughiera; pochi semplici elementi che concorrono a creare una storia apparentemente semplice ma in realtà molto complessa.
Già dall'incipit si percepisce, trovandoci in un tipico paesaggio brontiano, che il tributo alle sorelle Bront

A weird, powerful novel with a flavour of the Brontes or Hardy - this got me hooked on May Sinclair and keen to read as much by her as possible.

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