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Once We Were Sisters
Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir | Sheila Kohler
10 posts | 5 read | 23 to read
“A searing and intimate memoir about love turned deadly.” —The BBC When Sheila Kohler was thirty-seven, she received the heart-stopping news that her sister Maxine, only two years older, was killed when her husband drove them off a deserted road in Johannesburg. Stunned by the news, she immediately flew back to the country where she was born, determined to find answers and forced to reckon with his history of violence and the lingering effects of their most unusual childhood—one marked by death and the misguided love of their mother. In her signature spare and incisive prose, Sheila Kohler recounts the lives she and her sister led. Flashing back to their storybook childhood at the family estate, Crossways, Kohler tells of the death of her father when she and Maxine were girls, which led to the family abandoning their house and the girls being raised by their mother, at turns distant and suffocating. We follow them to the cloistered Anglican boarding school where they first learn of separation and later their studies in Rome and Paris where they plan grand lives for themselves—lives that are interrupted when both marry young and discover they have made poor choices. Kohler evokes the bond between sisters and shows how that bond changes but never breaks, even after death. “A beautiful and disturbing memoir of a beloved sister who died at the age of thirty-nine in circumstances that strongly suggest murder. . . . Highly recommended.” —Joyce Carol Oates
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Freespirit
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Firstly Allissa I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and sorry Australia post is so slow at this time of year😬Thank you so much for my first Litsy swap the #ChristmasBookSwap. It is fantastic. I have not read Once we were Sisters, The Girl Before or The House of Unexpected Sisters. I will love rereading Mansfield Park whilst I sip that gorgeous tea!! I really appreciate your thoughtfulness😘

LapReader Yay! Fantastic news. 6mo
33 likes1 comment
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MrBook
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#TBRtemptation post 2! A Best New Book by People magazine when this came out. When she was 37, Sheila was stunned to find out her older sister, Maxine, died in a car accident in Johannesburg. She flew back home to find answers and reckon with their childhood, one where their father died early and their mother consequently grew distant. They studied abroad together and both married regretfully. How to move on from here? #blameLitsy #blameMrBook 😎

71 likes6 stack adds
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Joanne1
Mehso-so

I was hooked by the beginning of this novel, expecting a tragic but compelling story of the bond between two sisters and the sheer devastation of domestic violence. That story was there, but it got lost in Kohler's ranging telling of the tale, casually tossing details of her own love affairs, studies or luxurious trips. At the end there is still a dead sister but not the connection I hoped to feel with her, or the author for that matter.

Fernoppy I feel stupid giving a love heart to a so-so pick and wish there was another option - but also don't want to clutter up the Litsy interface 🤔 2y
Joanne1 @Fernoppy I have the same dilemma sometimes. 2y
emilyhaldi Bummer. But great review! 2y
33 likes3 comments
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Joanne1
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Another fascinating (though seemingly quite tragic) memoir. This one is set partly in Post WWII South Africa and partly in the US and it's compelling from the first words (on audio and read by the author).

Cinfhen I‘m hooked by the photo! 2y
emilyhaldi I've been interested in this one for a long time!! 2y
51 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Penny_LiteraryHoarders
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Pickpick

Good audiobook! But it‘s shorter than it advertises. 😄 A sad story really, Sheila Koehler is telling the story of her sister, killed by her abusive husband but unable to bring him to justice since it looked like a car accident. She still has emptiness without Maxine 35 years after she died.

emilyhaldi I've been curious about this one for a while but haven't seen much about it. Glad you enjoyed!! 2y
Penny_LiteraryHoarders @emilyhaldi some is more about herself, but the ending is really good. Sad. And she‘s still feeling guilt at not having done more to help her sister. 2y
37 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Sarahj87
Mehso-so

Parts of this I found interesting but by the end she kept referencing her books (that I haven't read) and I just wanted to hurry up and finish.
#audiobook

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ReadingEnvy
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Mehso-so

Well, there's really not a whole lot to this memoir, which it seems the author told in an alternating timeline to make it more than it is. Losing a sister is an incredibly difficult thing.

RadicalReader @ReadingEnvy what is your favorite memoir ? 2y
59 likes1 stack add2 comments
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ReadingEnvy
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I do think it's strange that the last two books I started mentioned jacaranda trees in the first few pages. Top book Once We Were Sisters, bottom book Borderline from my last post.

Lindy So pretty when they're blooming. My friend in Brisbane had an overgrown specimen removed from her garden 2 weeks ago because the roots were into the neighbour's water pipes. She and the birds were sad to lose it. 2y
CatLadyBibliophile I'd never even heard of them before! 2y
ReadingEnvy @Lindy wow I probably saw them in Brisbane but I was there in winter. I looked them up and they are so beautiful!! 2y
53 likes3 comments
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ReadingEnvy
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I remember having this same conversation with my mom!

emilyhaldi Hope you're liking this book- it's on my to read list! 2y
ReadingEnvy @emilyhaldi it is going so quickly that I'm taking a break for a snack 😎 2y
MyNamesParadise I've never had a true calling to work. I love reading and writing on my own time but hard to get health insurance with those interests. I work part time in a library now but I'm not even sure if that's for me. I work because I need money not bc I want to 🙈🙈 2y
63 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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emilyhaldi
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First order of business tonight- researching the book choices chosen for our family book club! My mom, my 3 sisters, and I are going to Florida in April and want to choose a book (or two) to read together while we're there! We all submitted three options and will vote on the winner- each first choice gets 3 pts, second gets 2, and third gets 1. The book with the most points wins! One of my submissions was Once We Were Sisters... seemed apropos!

kim.guernsey What a lovely idea! 2y
bio_chem06 That's fantastic! 2y
Reviewsbylola @bio_chem06 This is my sister, so she grew up in Bexley too (but lives in NY now). ☺️☺️ 2y
See All 17 Comments
bio_chem06 @Reviewsbylola That is so awesome! This Litsy world just gets smaller everyday! Enjoy the trip! 2y
ReadingEnvy I just got this book but haven't started it. Sounds good! 2y
MicheleinPhilly @Reviewsbylola Oh thank goodness! I was just reading this and thinking to myself, "I've read this before and it's the same list of books. But it's a completely different person. I must be losing my mind." WHEW! 2y
Mdargusch 😂 @MicheleinPhilly - I'm the mother, so I guess I better not post this list again. 😊 2y
Reviewsbylola Hahahahaha, I bet that was confusing af. 🤣 @MicheleinPhilly 2y
MicheleinPhilly @Mdargusch BWAHAHAHAHAHA! @Reviewsbylola Yes, yes it was. It was also pre-coffee, so...😴 2y
emilyhaldi Lol! @MicheleinPhilly ! @Mdargusch - perhaps you can post the final results 😉 but you know @Reviewsbylola will too!!! 🤣 2y
emilyhaldi Hi! 👋🏻 @bio_chem06 small world! 2y
emilyhaldi @ReadingEnvy looking forward to hearing how you like it! Unfortunately, it didn't make the final book club pick but I'm planning on reading it anyways. 2y
kspenmoll Lovely idea! 2y
readinginthedark What a fun idea! 2y
Donna_sBookMinute Love this idea. Enjoy! 2y
Meredith3 Your handwriting is so beautiful! 💞I'm jealous 2y
RadicalReader @emilyhaldi so wonderful to have such an awesome family and what a way to connect with the amazing collection of books and power of discussion. 2y
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