The Sisters Sweet Book Review

The vaudeville era of US entertainment history took place in the early 1920s and featured a variety of specialty acts: singers, dancers, trained animals, ventriloquists, magicians, clowns, etc. Comic giants Laurel & Hardy were among the biggest names on vaudeville stages, as were renowned celebrities Mickey Rooney, Jack Haley, and the Marx Brothers.

The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss takes place between 1918 and the early 1930s. It’s about Harriet and Josie, two sisters who perform for eleven years as conjoined twins at the behest of their parents, former stars. When they are exposed as frauds, Josie runs away to Hollywood and her family falls on hard times as the Great Depression grips the country. Harriet, the less talented sister, struggles with growing up as her sister seeks fame and fortune.

This coming-of-age debut started out promising, but was just okay for me. It moved at a snail’s pace, dragging through what was an otherwise interesting plot. I didn’t care for the alternating narrative, with Harriet’s chapters in first-person and her mother Maude’s recounting of her own career in third. The book would have been better had both been written from the narrator’s own point-of-view. I was never invested in the characters, and although the plot was imaginative, the writing wasn’t great. 3 stars.

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