BOOK CLUB: Sisters and Brothers

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Author: Fiona Palmer
ISBN: 9780733637018
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 28 August 2018
Publisher: Hachette
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Fiona Palmer is an Australian author who has made a name for her heartfelt rural fiction, that’s certainly how I came across and fell in love with her work. In the years since her early rural novels she has spread her wings and delved into other genres with Young Adult Fiction and Contemporary Fiction.


This time last year we featured Secrets Between Friends as a book club read and I have been looking forward to checking out this latest book since my first glimpse of the synopsis.

Sisters and Brothers is an interesting look at families of all shapes and sizes and at times I had to sit back and wonder if it was a little too much, but it was a story that I loved with characters I found relatable and interesting.

This was actually the first book I read in September but instead of logging on to review after finishing I picked up another book and now I’m going to struggle.

The story comes to us in dual timelines as we meet Bill in the mid-70s, a single young man tuning pianos and working in a music shop with his mother. He is young, good-looking, polite and pleasant to talk to, and he’s always done really well with the clients when he is out tuning pianos in client homes. We get to know his habits and a little about who he is in the chapters set in the past.

In the present we have a host of narrators allowing us into their lives, and it is only through a slow unfurling of facts that we begin to learn their connections.

Sarah is a highly strung, high-powered professional with two young children and an equally pressured husband. Their lives are highly routined and structured, because they have to be to fit in all the functions, work and extra-curriculars for the children. Her father is an aging widow who dotes on his grandchildren.

We meet Emma next, she’s a busy nurse and mother of three whose husband works away a lot. She has two loving parents who are all about family. Emma has great relationships but feels that her housekeeping probably needs work. I loved her attitude in that she was more focused on bringing up happy, adjusted kids than having the perfect house and the perfect life. She has kids who are happy to help out and strong relationships. She has come to the realisation that striving for perfection is too stressful for everyone so she’s focused on people and everything else being good enough. Hers was a mindset I think more of us should aspire to.

Adam was raised by a loving single mother but he has always wondered about the father he never knew. He’s in his forties now and about to embark on a fostering journey with his partner, a dream they have both worked to fulfill. Adam stopped asking about his father early as he realised how much it upset his mum. A dear friend explained to her how it preyed on his mind and they decided to work together to see if they could track him down. The mother son relationship here is just beautiful, they haven’t always had it easy but they have always had each other and their unwavering support of each other is also aspirational.

Michelle was an interesting character that took me a lot longer to place in the story. She was on the periphery of the story and I couldn’t quite place her. She was strong and resilient. Michelle was adopted as a child and her and her adopted brother had always known that was the case, they had also been told that if they ever wanted to find their birth parents they would have the support of their parents. The adopted siblings had very different perspectives on finding their biological parents but when it came down to it they supported one another.

Fiona Palmer has explored family in all its shapes and sizes, from the messy to the neat, and illustrated that it doesn’t matter what your family looks like, it’s the love inside it that counts.

We have families with secrets, and families that are open; families with structure and families with chaos but most importantly we have families with love. We also have families with heartbreak and tragedy, there were definitely some elements to some of these families that broke my heart to read; characters who were faced with more than anyone should be.

I loved Sisters and Brothers, I loved the characters and their interactions, I loved the families, the stories and I loved the way it all came together. I would have liked one more chapter at the end and when you have read the book I am sure you will understand why.

Fiona Palmer goes from strength to strength and I have loved everything I have read of hers, she is definitely an author on my auto-read list and I can’t see that changing. Her characters are genuine and her ability to pull together an intriguing story are talents being honed well with each subsequent release. At times this one did have me wondering, surely not and you have to be kidding, because it seemed all a little too over the top…. while I was reading. Now that I have finished and am reflecting on the story as a whole I think it totally works. Yes, it’s still a case of surely not but that doesn’t make it any less possible.

I loved it. A captivating story with a rollercoaster of a ride for the heart that I would recommend to anyone who wants a slightly complicated family story to lose themself in.

Sisters and Brothers is book #39 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

You can find Fiona on FacebookTwitter, her Website and Goodreads.

Thanks to Hachette Australia 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Sisters and Brothers so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I can’t wait to read what they thought.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Sisters and Brothers

  1. I absolutely loved this book as I could feel the love,happiness ,sorrow ,anger that each character felt with themselves and each other plus it is written by my top 5 favourite Australian author so a big shoutout to @beautyandlacebooks and FionaPalmerRuralAuthor

  2. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Hachette Australia for giving me this book to read.

    Many thanks to Fiona Palmer for sharing another beautiful story.

    Chapter One begins with us meeting Bill. He is a music teacher and piano tuner and also runs the family music shop with his mum. We get to know a little about Bill the 29 year old in the 70’s.

    Chapter Two brings us to a different timeline and we get to meet Sarah who is a career woman and mother. Sarah is a neat freak who wants her home and kids to be absolutely perfect and will spend the night cleaning the house if she must.

    We meet Michelle who is 46 and still waiting to meet Mr Right and fall in love. She wants to meet her birth parents but hasn’t found the right time to search for them. Michelle makes the most amazing cakes. She and her brother are adopted from different parents.

    Emma is a nurse and a mum or three kids. Her kids are her world and they come first to her before the cleaning and housework. Emma is an only child and one day Emma’s dad taken to hospital and it’s here that she makes a bit of a discovery.

    Adam owns a flower shop with his best friend Kate. Adam has is all a wonderful man a beautiful home only thing missing is a child. Adam never knew his father and he wants to know about his father.

    As you read the book you get to know each persons story and how they came to be where they are at today. Each persons story is unique and fun and has a bit of a back story so you can understand how it all folds and unfolds into another story.

    During the story we go back and forth from the 70’s to today and the chapter title will let you know when you are in the 70’s.

    This book is about family and what makes a family. It’s also a bit about hope and wishes and sometimes dreams do come true when you least expect it.
    It’s full of warmth, caring, it will make you smile and it will break your heart but you’ll love it all.

    Books can leave you happy, sad, confused or ready to take on the world and some can touch your heart and leave a little mark there and I think Sisters and Brothers is one of those.

    Page after page it gets more exciting and lots of little bits and pieces fall into place.

    Families come in all shapes and sizes and these are the ties that bind us together no matter where we are.

    I was excited but also nervous about reading this book.
    This book has a story line around adoption and being adopted and having read other books with an ‘adoption’ story line I know that this isn’t always written in a positive way.
    I am so glad I read it as Fiona Palmer has written about it in a positive and happy way. Thank you.

  3. I am a huge fan of Fiona Palmer’s books and was very excited to read her latest offering. It tells the story of Bill who worked in his mother’s music store teaching music. It is a good life and then he meets the woman of his dreams Debbie who comes in for lessons. Their romance blossoms and they marry and eventually go on to have Sarah after many disappointments and miscarriages. She is married to Andrew and they have two children. Emma is also happily married with 3 children and finds out from her parents that her dad is not her biological dad and with their blessing decides to hunt down her biological dad which turns out to be Bill. The two sisters are not sure about each other at first but following Emma’s DNA test it confirms they are half sisters. Meanwhile Bill falls ill and is unable to speak. Emma and Sarah join forces to care for him. Meanwhile Adam & Michelle have their own stories which add to the family saga. I won’t give any more away. Usually I love Fiona’s books, and although I didn’t not like this one, the story felt a little contrived which was a bit disappointing. Big thank you to Hachette & Beauty and Lace book club for the complimentary copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

  4. A real hearty and enjoyable journey of lost and unknown ties.
    Once I knew who was who I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter and every character.
    I loved Emma, she was my favourite as she was so down to earth and I think everyone could take a note out of her book to live less stressful.
    Sarah’s judging of Emma was so harsh and I had a lot of familiar feelings come back to my surface because I grew up without a dad and when you hear that person’s name I used to look and wonder.
    I got teary when Emma told her husband the news she had and also towards end.
    It ended beautifully and not to be predicted either.
    Thanks so much Hachette Australia, Beauty and Lace Book Club and Fiona Palmer for this fantastic book, I highly recommend it.

  5. ‘Sisters and Brothers’ by Fiona Palmer is one great read. Having read Fiona’s previous novel ‘Secrets between Friends’, I really wanted to read this book and it did not disappoint.
    This is a book about family, love and connections. The story begins in the mid seventies where we are introduced to a young William ‘Bill” McDonald, who lives lives with his mother and helps run the family’s music store. He is a piano tuner and also gives piano lessons.
    We then move forward to the present and meet his ‘only child’ Sarah and Bill who is now in his 7o’s and suffering from the loss of his beloved wife a year earlier and is waiting to have hip surgery.
    Sarah is a professional, married with two young kids who is missing her mother and dotes on her father.
    Through alternating chapters we are also introduced to Emma, a married nurse with three children who has just found out, by accident, that the man she knew as her father was not her biological father.
    Adam, a successful florist who has just become engaged to the love of his life , Shane and is about to become a foster parent to a baby girl, grew up without a father.
    Michelle, a 46 year single woman has always now she was adopted and has finally decided to search for her birth parents.
    All very different people leading very different lives but all connected in some way.
    I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t wait to see how the story would develop. I would have liked to have seen Michelle’s storyline developed a bit more though as it was left a bit up in the air. Perhaps another book about Michelle’s story?
    Thank you Fiona Palmer , Beauty and Lace and Hachette Australia for another enjoyable read

  6. Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer is a novel of family, secrets and a very fertile young man!
    I must admit to being slightly confused in the first few chapters but I was soon really enjoying the story and liked many of the characters although at times some of them came across as stereotypes but I did wonder if that was deliberate.
    The central figure of the novel is Bill, now in his seventies, a widower and struggling with ill health but its clear family is very important to him and it quickly becomes abundantly clear that he had some fun as a young man, the first part of the book does jump to and fro from the 1970s. I was rather surprised how quickly all the characters accepted the new family members and their new situations, I can’t help thinking in reality it would not be that easy but perhaps the fact that Bill was so ill and unable to speak for himself meant everyone tried to get on and enjoy the time they had with Bill.
    I did thoroughly enjoy this novel and would like to thank the Beauty & Lace Book Club and Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this novel. This is the first book by Fiona Palmer that I’ve read, I’ll certainly look out for her other works.

  7. I absolutely enjoyed reading Brothers and Sister by Fiona Palmer.
    A novel with twists and turns, family and secrets .
    I for one would want to make sure I had time to sit down and read Brothers and Sisters so that you can get your head around which character is which and what relates to each of them.
    Well worth taking the time to to as Brothers and Sisters is a novel in which we can explore family.
    Our central figure is Bill a widower in his seventies struggling with ill health , but a man who certainly lived a very full younger life.
    Many new family members come into his life and we expore their lives and their stories.
    I highly recommend Brothers and Sisters by Fiona Palmer.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Hachette Australia for allowing me to read and review this great novel.

  8. Thanks Beauty and Lace and Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read and review ‘Sisters and Brothers’ by Fiona Palmer.

    What a lovely story, exploring family in all shapes and sizes and all complex in their own way.
    I loved the central message that flowed through this book that love is infinite and our hearts can continually expand to welcome new people in if we let it.

    The story resolves around Bill at a couple of different stages of his life. As young piano tuner and later as unwell older man who has lost his wife.

    There are many other well constructed characters in the story and I enjoyed the contrast between Sarah the uptight career woman and perfectionist in all areas of life and Emma, a much more relaxed nurse and mother. The story had me reflecting a n whether I was more like Sarah or Emma, while I would have wholeheartedly liked to say Emma I do some of Sarah in my own personality too.

    There were times in the story where it all came together too well or it was such one step too far to be realistic but then I reflect on how complex life can be and maybe it isn’t too much after all!

    This was another story that explores the secrets we keep from our nearest and dearest and the life changing impact when they are exposed.

    I would highly recommend Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer as a great read ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  9. Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read and review the uncorrected proof copy of Fiona Palmer’s Sisters and Brothers.

    This is the first book of Palmer’s that I have read and I was really looking forward to reading it as she is promoted as one of Australia’s beloved best selling authors.

    I have no doubt that Palmer writes what I would class as enjoyable “Chick Lit” and I can see how her work would appeal to many. From my perspective however the plot, while amusing, was entirely transparent.

    One of the differences between an average book and a great book is the quality of the research when a concept relies on the accuracy of facts. While I understand the concept Palmer was endeavoring to communicate, her decision not to ensure that her facts were correct when discussing blood genotypes was close to being a show stopper. For me it was not only distressing that the result portrayed in the tale was 100% impossible, but that others with a similar lack of understanding to Palmer’s when reading the book could believe this misinformation to be true.

    Sisters and Brothers was a light, easy read, had there not been such a glaring error in fact which made the parentage of one of the characters impossible I would have rated the tale higher.

    Recommended for those who like easy reading “Chick Lit” (and either don’t have a scientific background or are able to ignore obvious errors of fact!). I give it 3 stars.

  10. I really enjoyed reading Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer. The characters were all strong, and felt real. I liked how they softened each other with their interactions during the course of the book. I enjoyed the writing style, jumping back and forth from the past to the present, and although it was predictable who fitted in where, the narrative still pulled you in and was very engaging.

    Whilst reading the book I did find it fairly contrived that they were discovering each other so easily and in such a short time frame, and in some ways it did feel like they accepted the new additions to the family rather too easily. But on reflection I think that even in real life strange coincidences do happen, and we can often be surprised by how we react in an unexpected situation.

    I was disappointed that blood type inheritance, which was an important part of the story for one of the central characters, was inaccurate. Whilst the character was correct that the combination of her parents’ blood groups could not produce hers, in fact the blood groups which are used in the story mean that neither of the people she thought were her parents could have been. This could have been fixed very easily. However, despite this error, I still really enjoyed the story.

    And I actually really liked the ending.

    Thank you to Hachette, and to Beauty and Lace for a great read.

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