The True & Splendid History Of The Harristown Sisters

Michelle Lovric
Bloomsbury, 13.99
Review: Darren Heath

The fifth novel from Michelle Lovric — writer of the The Remedy — is lined with a penetrating melancholic beauty.

Highly stylised, the novel is set in the age of the Pre-Raphaelite 1800s and follows the fortunes of seven long-haired sisters from Harristown, Co Kildare to Dublin, and on to the palazzi of Venice.

Fame is a major theme of the novel, as is the object of the girls’ fame — their hair, which symbolises femininity.

Indeed, it seems as though Lovric spends so much time focusing on hair that some of the characterisation might be lost, but that isn’t the case.

The seven sisters — dark-hearted Darcy, squabbling twins Berenice and Enda, plain Pertilly, gentle Oona, wild Ida and fearful Manticory — are deeply drawn and offer different versions of womanhood.

Inspired by the real-life Sutherland Sisters, who made millions from their hair in the United States in the 19th century, the novel is engaging and affecting in a way that will stick with you long after the last page is turned.


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