Tuesday, June 29

Book Review: The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay

Title: The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay

Author: Beverly Jensen

Pages: 307

Summary: In 1916, Idella and Avis Hillock live on the edge of a chilly bluff in New Brunswick - a hardscrabble world of potato farms and lobster traps, rough men, hard work, and baffling beauty. From "Gone," the heartbreaking story of their mother's medical crisis in childbirth, to darkly comic "Wake," which follows grown siblings' catastrophic efforts to escort their father's body to his funeral, the stories of Idealla and Avis offers a compelling and wryly humours vision of two remarkable women.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I think the description of the book is spot on, as the readers are introduced to the sisters, it is heart breaking during those events, but also a powerful and shocking way to open a book. As for the story Wake, I couldn’t help but laugh, even though it was something that wasn’t exactly something to laugh about, the story behind it was just to funny, especially the reactions of the characters in it. I have to say, Beverly Jensen knew how to tell a story, create very real and believable characters, and bring a smile to ones face. It is a shame that she died before her work could be brought to reader’s attention.

I enjoyed the authors writing style and story telling. I liked how each chapter focused on a different point in the sisters lives, as the reader watches how they grew up to young woman and into old age. For both the sisters, you were able to immerse your self into their lives and I always found my self wanting more. I also enjoyed how, even though all the chapters or “stories” in the book are connected, each can also be their own individual story of the sisters lives. You get a collection of stories out of what must have been a life time of stories, of life events and experiences. I think this element of story telling worked out well, as something like this can often work out poorly, this book and this author handled it beautifully. I also loved how she was able to invoke the emotion of the reader towards her characters. I was definitely emotionally involved throughout the entire book as I followed the sisters and their life journey. One of the author’s strengths (among many) was her ability to write an emotionally powerful book, with a cast of characters the reader can truly care about.

What I didn’t like. I wished there was more on Avis, her story kind of takes the backside to Idella, and although it makes since in the end why, I still wanted more about Avis, she was an interesting person and it would have been nice to experience more of her life.

Overall a wonderful read, highly recommend it.

Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend this book to read, it is such a fantastic read, and it’s a book well worth picking up. Thank you to the publishers from Penguin Group who gave me the opportunity to read the book. It comes out in July.

What to read next: A Good House, The Stone Diaries

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge


  1. I had not heard of this book, but it does sound like it's got a lot of style and tells an interesting story. I might have to try to check this one out when it's released. Thanks, Jules, for bringing it to my attention!

  2. Zibilee - I hope you get the opportunity to get the book. It should be out right about now or very soon. At a bookstore or library near you.

  3. Jules,

    I finished this book yesterday and posted by review. I agree with what you said about Avis really being a secondary character compared to Della. I did enjoy the book, and would like to read more books set in early 20th century Canada.

  4. Diane - I realized after I commented on your post (I saw it in my feeds) that it was yours. Doh. One suggestion if you enjoy 20th century Canadian fiction might be Gabrielle Roy. No Great Mischief is also a book you might want to check out. And I think The Underpainter and The Last Crossing are both books that take place in early to the middle of the 20th century.