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Sisters Antipodes

New or Used: 5 copies from $11.63
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'Enormously compelling . . . a truly unusual, harrowing journey of identity.' - Publishers' Weekly'[Alison's] haunting story is one that truly compels telling . . . Pointed and poignant, sprinkled with breathtaking intuitions . . . an act of bravery.' - Elle
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About the Author

Jane Alison is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, The Love-Artist, The Marriage of the Sea (Text Publishing), and Natives + Exotics. She lives in Miami Beach and teaches in the MFA programs of the University of Miami and Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.


In this enormously compelling memoir, novelist Alison (Natives and Exotics) recounts the strangely definitive reconfiguration of her family when her parents broke up and switched partners and children with another couple they met in Australia. In 1965, when Alison was four and her sister seven, they were living in Canberra, where her father was an Australian diplomat. The family met an American diplomat and his family with two daughters of similar ages-the youngest, Jenny, even shared the same birthday as Alison. The couples were fascinated with each other, and soon the marriages realigned: Alison and her sister moved in with their mother, Rosemary, an Australian teacher, and Paul, the American diplomat, who moved them back to the U.S.; Alison's father, Edward, now married to Helen, became stepfather to her two daughters in Australia. During the seven years of Paul and Rosemary's tenuous marriage, Alison, a plucky, boyish, observant child, set out to win Paul's admiration by her accomplishments, and when she finally saw her biological father again in 1973, it became clear that Alison and her antipodal sister, Jenny, were each harboring the "mass of fantasy, jealousy, and longing that was crucial and would define us." Alison masterfully delineates the treacherous forms this jealousy would take, especially amid the sexual self-abnegation of adolescence, in a truly unusual, harrowing journey of identity. (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Novelist Alison (Natives and Exotics) weighs in with a first memoir about her unconventional family, which resulted from her parents' and their best friends' exchanging partners. Both the author and Jenny, the friends' daughter, are devastated by the loss of their "real" parents. Readers follow their parallel yet tragically divergent lives-while Alison becomes a successful novelist, the similarly talented Jenny dies young. Literary memoir fans will be drawn to this searing but redeeming story.-L.M. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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