“The Sisters Sweet” by Elizabeth Weiss

The Sisters Sweet

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: November 30, 2021

A young woman in a vaudeville sister act must learn to forge her own path after her more talented twin gets married and runs away to Hollywood. I enjoyed this novel because the story resembles the play and movie “Gypsy,” which centers on the life and times of the real-life burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee and her aggressive stage mother. Determined to make her gifted daughter June a headliner the mother drags her other daughter Louise, who is shy, awkward, and decidedly less talented, into their successful vaudeville act. June runs away to get married and the mother pushes Louise to be a star demanding of her what she just didn’t have to give, which is how she becomes the famous stripper.

In “The Sisters Sweet,” both parents come from showbiz backgrounds. Josie is the talented sister and Harriet is written as Louise-like. The likable yet depressed alcoholic father plays the part of the stage mother. When the talented Josie runs off to Hollywood, the father creates a solo act for Harriet. The act doesn’t happen because Harriet finally realizes that she does not want to pursue a life in show business. No burlesque career for Harriet, which paves the way for the author to explore, family dynamics, religion (through a reverend uncle), and buried family secrets. Weiss does a good job weaving the parents’ backgrounds into the plot. However, it is the authentic historical feel of theater life set in the early 20th century that held this reviewer’s interest, more so than Harriet’s coming of age story.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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