Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford
The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.
Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year’s Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.
And so the confessions begin….
Here’s the scoop: Almighty Lou (that’s Grandma) is the family powerhouse, marrying a whopping five men, each dying and leaving her richer than the previous husband. They are the upper crust of Baltimore society (not that that really means anything, except to the people who believe themselves to be upper crusts as well). Almighty likes things just so: She wants her grandkids to go to the right school, have a proper coming out, be seen with the right kind of boy and basically to do exactly as she says. She’s not a particularly doting lady, choosing to host a weekly afternoon tea with her granddaughters as opposed to do anything maternal like baking cookies or knitting a blanket (in fact, she’s vaguely reminiscent of Grandmere from The Princess Diaries).
Almighty drops the bomb on everyone that she is terminally ill. Unfortunately, one of her family members has done something to upset her and if she does not get a full confession by New Years Day, she will cut her family out of her will entirely. Now Almighty’s three granddaughters—Norrie, Jane and Sassy—pour out their hearts in confession of how they feel they may have wronged their grandmother.
First up is Norrie. Norrie is expected to debut at the cotillion. This is may sound kind of cheeseball to normal folks like you and me, but in Almighty’s world, a cotillion is epic. Norrie has been pressured by Almighty to invite Brooks Overbeck, grandson to her very best friend. He’s nice enough, but he’s not the guy she wants. While she attempts to do what Almighty demands, her heart draws her elsewhere. And even though Almighty knows the outcome of the story, Norrie confesses it in letter form, hoping her grandmother will understand.
Then, there’s my personal favorite, Jane. Jane is the little rebel of the family and makes no apologies for it. She has started a blog called myevilfamily.com (check it out. It’s a real site) wherein she rips her family a new one by telling their history and thus, embarrassing everyone in the process, most of all, Almighty.
And finally there’s Sassy. Sassy—who literally believes she cannot be killed because of a few freak accidents she’s recently come through— is weighted with guilt because she feels entirely responsible for the death of someone very dear to Almighty. She confesses her grave misdeed in a letter, believing that what she’s done is unforgivable.
The big question is, who is the one who has truly upset Oh Unmaternal One? Everyone is fessing up to something and the stories overlap in such a way that only with all three accounts do we see the full picture.
I thought this book was so cute. Standiford created a cooky family. Outside of Almighty Lou and her awesome granddaughters, their family consists of three brothers and a some adorably wacky parents. They reminded me somewhat of the family in The Wedding Crashers—totally lovable, but kind of nutters. For example, they refer to their mother, not as Mom, but as Ginger and they call their father Daddy-o. Ginger spends her days sleeping, lunching, drinking cocktails and saying things like “marvelous”, leaving the child rearing to the housekeeper while Daddy-o does…I don’t know what all day. Almighty takes care of the family financially and though they’re all kind of off their rockers, they are so loveable. I sort of picture them like this:
You know? Kind of half-drunk on champagne and feeling the need to wear every expensive garment they own all at once so that the entire world can see. Not the kids so much as the adults, but you get the picture.
This story is a complete departure from Standiford’s debut novel, How to Say Goodbye in Robot. Both are good, well-written stories with interesting, quirky characters, but Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters is lighthearted and funny. It’s not a story about romance and major swoon, but about coming to terms with who we are as individuals and in the greater family unit.
As an only child, I always find stories like this to be engrossing because the sibling dynamics are totally foreign to me (as it is when my children fight over who is going to open the garage door or who is going to take a bath first. I’m like, who cares? but to them it’s major).
Crush Intensity: 3.5/5 Super cute