Title: The Sweeney Sisters
Author: Lian Dolan
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: April 28, 2020
An accomplished storyteller returns with her biggest, boldest, most entertaining novel yet—a hilarious, heartfelt story about books, love, sisterhood, and the surprises we discover in our DNA that combines the wit of Jonathan Tropper with the heart of Susan Wiggs.
Maggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.
But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.
When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.
Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?
By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family.
Bill Sweeney was a famous literary author. When he dies suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep, he leaves many secrets for his three daughters to discover. When his will is read, they learn that he had another daughter, who is older than them and was their next door neighbour while they were growing up. He also left a mysterious memoir that is to be published after his death. The sisters have to unravel their father’s secrets, while also dealing with personal problems.
Serena, the half-sister of the Sweeney girls, found out about her relation to Bill Sweeney through an online DNA test. She ended up being a match for one of the Sweeney girls, so she knew she must be his daughter. That also uncovered her mother’s affair with Bill, which was strange since they didn’t have a relationship after that affair even though they lived next door to each other for years. I’ve read many articles about the popular online DNA tests that have revealed that family members aren’t actually related. It’s creepy that this is a common occurrence, but that makes this story timely.
This story had a third person omniscient narrator. That means that everyone’s thoughts were told in the narrative. This was a unique way to tell the story because none of the characters could have secrets from the reader, including the minor characters. The story was still suspenseful, because Bill had secrets, and he wasn’t present in the narrative since he had already died.
This is a great story!
Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer
About the Author:
Lian Dolan is a writer and talker. She’s the author of two Los Angeles Times best-selling novels, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife published by Prospect Park Books. Her next novel, The Sweeney Sisters, will be published in 2020 by William Morrow. She’s a regular humor columnist for Pasadena Magazine and has previously written monthly columns for O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother Magazine. She’s also written for TV, radio and websites.
Lian is the producer and host of Satellite Sisters, the award-winning talk show she created with her four real sisters. On Satellite Sisters, she’s interviewed everyone from Nora Ephron to Madeleine Albright to Big Bird. Satellite Sisters began life as a syndicated radio show and is now a top-rated podcast for women. The recent book by the Satellite Sisters, You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship, is popular with book clubs.
Lian graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Classics. She lives in Pasadena, California with her husband, two sons and a big German shepherd.
Have you read The Sweeney Sisters? What did you think of it?