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Sarah Duguid’s Favourite Portrayals of Sisterhood – Part 2

On Monday we brought you the first part of debut author, Sarah Duguid’s round up of depictions of sisterhood and what better way to mark publication day of LOOK AT ME, than with Part 2? 

Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys

Tells the story of chorus girls in the thirties trying to subsist by latching onto men who pick them up and cast them off with cruel ease. And yet, in spite of this horribly competitive, Darwinian environment, where their lives depend on being able to reel in a man, there are small moments among the despair and brutality when the women actually help each other – lending money, giving comfort – and while it’s a bleak book, I found that aspect of the novel interesting. It eschews the idea that the importance of female friendships is something that was invented post women’s lib. It’s nice to think it’s always been there.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Two orphaned sisters are raised by a succession of relatives and finally by their strange, transient aunt, Sylvie. Eventually fearing separation, they burn the house down and escape to their own transient, homeless life. In language both luminous and simple, it’s a story told through such strength of metaphor and simile that the prose seems to lodge itself within you. It tells of people who can’t connect to the world around them, of home, of finding a place within a world that throws such loss at its two, young protagonists.

Women in Love by DH Lawrence

Women in Love tells the story of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula as they meet and become involved with two local men. Although you could never really say that Lawrence has any kind of consistency of argument – you couldn’t identify any coherent Lawrentian feminism, or chauvinism for that matter – but I enjoy him for the physical, sexual freedom as well as the freedom of thought he gives his female characters. They’re self-directing and interested in the world beyond the men that they choose.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

A story of sisters and sisterhood – and the devastating lack of it – if ever there was one. At the time Thomas Carlyle rejected her novels as ‘mere dishwashings’ but is within the bourgeois and the domestic that Austen penetrates the inequities (and iniquities) of the time. The Dashwood sisters are entirely dependent, subject to the whim of their avaricious half-brother, and his greedy, snobbish wife, Fanny who persuades her husband to break a promise to look after them thus robbing them of home and fortune.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, film by Robert Aldrich

I love this camp and brilliant film of sisters gone awry, along with the shamelessness of their rivalry off-screen, the kind of rivalry that belongs to another era, to a time when PR machines in Hollywood weren’t quite so slick and actors not quite so conscience of presenting an anodyne, monochrome image of themselves to the world.

LOOK AT ME is available to buy in hardback and ebook from today.

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