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Book review: Three Sisters by Heather Morris

I have written before about Heather Morris’s ‘too good to be true’ portrayal of victims of the Holocaust, after having read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey.

I found that Cilka’s Journey, in particular, presented an unrealistically flawless person and preferred my heroes to be more three-dimensional.

However, I did enjoy Morris’s beautiful way with words, and have always been attracted to the stories of Holocaust survivors.

In the beginning of Three Sisters I again had this sense of characters who were unrealistically ‘good’, as three sweet sisters sat around a house and made a promise that they would always care for each other. Even their voices (I listened on audiobook) were ridiculously sweet.

And while this portrayal of the heroic sisters didn’t seem to ring true for me, especially in the extraordinarily difficult circumstances in which they found themselves, as the novel continued this grated on me less.

By the end, when the real voice of one of the sisters – now elderly – is heard, it is difficult not to be moved by the story, which indeed is heroic. I was struck by the truth of this story, and the ordeal that real people had gone through.

And as the sister spoke about her experience of meeting the author, I felt grateful for Morris’s work in bringing these stories to life. I realised that, in many ways, these people, who survived hell with dignity and grace, really are too good to be true. Their bravely and survival really was extraordinary and so it is no inaccuracy to portray them as being extraordinary people.

I would recommend this highly readable novel to anyone interested in Holocaust history, and if you can, listen to the audiobook to hear the voice of one of the extraordinary women behind the novel.

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