The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay, is a poignant novel which spans a period of some 70 years. Beginning in 1916, the story follows the lives of two sisters Idella and Avis Hillock, who live on a seaside bluff in New Brunswick Canada. When the novel begins, they are just young girls whose lives are forever changed when their mother dies after giving birth to their sister Emma. The girls also have an older brother Dalton, but the essential focus of the novel is on Avis and Della.
After their mother dies, their father brings in a young French girl in to care for the children, but when that doesn't work out, he sends the older girls to live with relatives in Maine. It isn't long before the girls are back home (1921), to care for their father when he is seriously injured. Once they are back home, it is Della takes on the majority of the responsibility around the house. She resents the fact that her sister Avis is out having fun, while she is stuck at home.
As the girls become women they move from Canada to Maine, where Della gets work as a maid. She later marries Edward Jensen and inherits his difficult mother as well. Avis goes from one relationship to another, and never really settles down. In 1966 the children reunite to plan their father's funeral in a fashion that would have made their father smile.
There were several things that I liked about this novel, especially the way that it was more like a series of stories that followed the life of these two sisters from childhood to old age. The characters were memorable, and sense of place vivid, but what really made this novel memorable was the way The Sisters of Hardscrabble Bay came about.
Like my mother and my brother, the author Beverly Jensen died of pancreatic cancer; she in 2003. She was only 49 when she passed away, leaving behind her husband and two children. The author spent years writing this novel, chronicling the lives of her relatives within these stories. What a lovely lasting tribute to her short life. You can read more about the author's life, her family, and how her novel came to be published after her death HERE.
RECOMMENDED - 4/5 stars
(Finished Copy sent to me for review)