Fern and Rose Castle are fraternal twins that couldn’t be more different in appearance, personality and temperament. The story begins with Rose’s diary entry that recalls an event when they were twelve years old that was traumatic and horrifying. It provides the context for how we begin to think of these two women throughout the story. Fern is a librarian in Bayside (Victoria, Australia) who has a sensory processing disorder. Today we might describe her as being on the spectrum with an ultra logical way of sorting out what she sees and hears. Rose is married but her husband is temporarily living in London working on a special assignment. She’s ready to get pregnant but it becomes clear that traditional paths are not an option. Fern decides, on her own, that she’ll find a partner, get pregnant and deliver the child to her sister and her husband.
Most of what we know about Rose comes through her diary entries, which chronicle a troublesome childhood at the hands of a manipulative and cruel mother. Rose becomes her sister’s protector, shielding her from the worst of her mother’s behavior while suffering personally from the effects of juvenile diabetes. Fern’s voice is in the present, providing an interesting contrast to her sister’s perspectives. At some point, my opinion of these two women began to shift, with a subtle recognition that one of them might not be a reliable narrator. By the time the truth is revealed, I’d pretty much figured things out but it was a pleasurable reading experience getting there! There’s a lot more going on but you need to discover that for yourself.
This author is now on my auto read list as her writing style fits my tastes like the proverbial glove. She is excellent at developing her characters, slowly but methodically, giving me an opportunity to make judgments for myself while throwing in a ringer or two that’s not even obvious. Rose and Fern were well designed and the challenge was figuring out who really was the good sister. I loved how the story unfolded and am so happy I opted to get the audio version. Barrie Kreinik’s narration was oh, so good, providing slight distinctions for the sisters that fit who I believed them to be. I could always tell whose point of view I was listening to and her depiction of Fern was particularly well done. It was a great listening experience of a well crafted story.
- Release Date: April 13, 2021
- Narrator: Barry Kreinik
- Audio Length: 8 hours, 9 minutes
- Publisher: Macmillan Audio
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(Thanks to Macmillan Audio and Libro.fm for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)