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They Were Sisters

by Dorothy Whipple
Persephone book no:

55 56 57

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The Far Cry
A Well Full of Leaves
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ISBN 9781903155462

'They Were Sisters is a compulsively readable but often harrowing novel by one of Persephone's best writers, who always manages to make the ordinary extraordinary,' writes Celia Brayfield in her preface. This, the fourth Dorothy Whipple novel we have republished, is, like the others, apparently gentle but has a very strong theme, in this case domestic violence.

Three sisters marry very different men and the choices they make determine whether they will flourish, be tamed or be repressed. Lucy's husband is her beloved companion; Vera's husband bores her and she turns elsewhere; and Charlotte's husband is a bully who turns a high-spirited naive young girl into a deeply unhappy woman.

In the Independent on Sunday Charlie Lee-Potter commented that They Were Sisters 'exerts a menacing tone from start to finish. I eavesdropped on the lives of Lucy, Charlotte and Vera, compelled to go on but with a sense of simmering dread', while Salley Vickers in the Spectator described 'the sparkling achievements of this accomplished novelist, not the least of which is the ability - rarer today than it should be - simply to entertain.' 

Also available as a Persephone Classic and a Persephone eBook.


The endpaper is 'Pattern of Anemones', a 1935 printed cotton crepe dress fabric manufactured by Calico Printers' Association, Manchester. It was thus manufactured in the part of the world in which Dorothy Whipple lived and wrote; and could have been worn by any of the three sisters but perhaps most especially by Vera.

Picture Caption

Still from the 1945 film of They Were Sisters

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