From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.
Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.
When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.
An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.
In this evocative Depression-era novel from Cullen (Mrs. Poe), two sisters must contend with past mistakes after a long estrangement. June and Ruth have always been at odds. As children, Ruth wanted what June had, whether it was toys, friends, or romantic attention. Ruth, now 30, has managed the family farm for the past eight years, since her husband, John, fell ill from a mysterious "sleeping sickness" that's left him bedridden. Thirty-two-year-old June, meanwhile, writes recipes and menus for Betty Crocker in St. Paul, Minn. Ruth is envious of June's career and lifestyle, unaware that June's marriage is struggling in the wake of not being able to have children. When June and her wealthy husband visit Ruth and their mother, Dorothy, resentments and baggage from the sisters' past dating back to high school pile up into insurmountable obstacles to a happy reunion. In the turmoil, a secret Dorothy has kept for decades comes to light, causing both sisters to reckon with their own sense of identity. Though some revelations feel rushed, Cullen explores a complex, realistic dynamic between sisters who have never resolved their contentious youthful traumas and grounds her story with convincing historical details. Fans of Paula McLain will love this.