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Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir av Sheila…
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Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir (utgåvan 2017)

av Sheila Kohler (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
937235,132 (3.59)4
After learning that her sister Maxine was killed when her husband drove them off a deserted road in Johannesburg, Kohler flew back to the country where she was born, determined to reckon with the tragedy and her family's history of choosing unsuitable men. Flashing back to their childhood at the family estate, Crossways, Kohler tells of the death of her father and being raised by their mother, at turns distant and suffocating. She shows how the bond between sisters changes but never breaks, even after death.… (mer)
Medlem:FPLD
Titel:Once We Were Sisters: A Memoir
Författare:Sheila Kohler (Författare)
Info:Penguin Books (2017), 256 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Taggar:B KOH

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Once we were sisters av Sheila Kohler

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It began very promisingly. I could feel how much author Sheila Kohler loved her sister. Kohler did a wonderful job right up front, too, setting out the strangeness of her childhood as the backdrop for her memoir. Soon the story derailed.

The memoir lacks, to me, a coherent thematic point of view--anything that might have given the story a spine. While the memoir promises to be a story of two sisters, it instead roams freely from chapter to chapter, touching upon many other autobiographical subjects in a way that began to feel haphazard and superficial. The bits and memories, shared here in brief chapters, never really added up to be something whole. The story begins with Kohler going to id her sister Maxine's body at the morgue after an accident; Kohler introduces the idea that it wasn't an accident but was murder. It's quite a setup. But then the story of Maxine's death gets dropped, except for small scenic hints, until very near the end of the book.

So on the whole, a little aggravating. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
This is a memoir by a prolific writer I've never heard of. Born into a fabulously wealthy South African family, she and her sister Maxine were raised during the 1950's in the lap of luxury. Both married young, and Sheila and her American husband lived in Paris. Maxine married a South African cardiac surgeon who was a protégé of heart transplant pioneer Christian Barnard. Although they lived continents apart, the sisters got together frequently, with and without their children and/or spouses. There were hints that Maxine and her husband were not getting along. The family ultimately became aware that Maxine's husband was abusing her and their children. Just when it seemed that Maxine was going to leave her husband, she died in a terrible car accident in a car her husband was driving. He survived.

From the beginning Sheila suspected that the car crash was not an accident and that Maxine was deliberately murdered by her husband. She and her family also suffered feelings of guilt over what they saw as their failure to help Maxine extract herself from her abusive marriage.

Sheila became a novelist, and most of her novels relate in one way or another to the death of her sister, with themes about the relationship between sisters and survivor guilt. (She also writes historical fiction.) 35 years later, she has written this memoir to help her answer the questions that have eaten at her over the years, "How could we have failed to protect her from him? What was wrong with our family?"

I didn't find the memoir to be particularly compelling. It seems to have been promoted as some sort of true crime memoir, but any criminal aspects are really peripheral, and consist mostly of suspicions. I did enjoy the glimpse I got into the lifestyle of the rich. In addition I enjoyed the parts discussing how a writer takes things from their real live experiences and turns them into fiction. So overall, my experience of the book is "Meh."

2 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 13, 2018 |
As the daughters of a wealthy timber merchant, author Sheila Kohler and her sister Maxine grow up as the most privileged of the privileged in apartheid-era South Africa. They are expected to make suitable matches and be perfect wives to successful men. But as adults the sisters share a terrible secret--their seemingly idyllic marriages have become living hells. Sheila's husband cheats on her, and, what's worse, Maxine's spouse, a prominent physician, beats her on a regular basis. When Maxine dies a suspicious death, Sheila is left trying to make sense of it all.

With its short chapters, generous margins and leading, and full-page photographs, this brief memoir is very quick read. It serves as a good reminder that domestic abuse knows no class boundaries. ( )
  akblanchard | Jan 31, 2018 |
I've heard of Sheila Kohler but haven't read any of her fictional work yet. Whilst it probably would have been interesting to have had that context (she talks in this memoir about how she has weaved her family stories into her fictional work), this book works perfectly well on its own without any prior knowledge of her or her work.

Set in the 1950s to 1970s, Once we Where Sisters is a memoir with Kohler's sister at its heart, whom we learn right at the beginning was killed in a car crash with Kohler blaming her sister's husband of deliberately causing her death. Whilst the book is a legacy to her sister's memory and wrongful death - and to a large extent is an exercise in using the written word and free speech to appoint blame - mostly it's simply a very enjoyable memoir of the life of two very privileged South African sisters, from their childhood growing up with household staff in a luxurious house in Johannesburg, to their married lives and visits to each other across the capitals of Europe.

This book is a great insight into how the other half lives, and how money doesn't buy happiness (although it definitely seemed to make misery a lot easier to bear). The sisters have lives akin to something out of a classic novel, with finishing schools, education at numerous universities across Europe, South Africa and America, and multiple homes. Their married lives are ultimately lacking in fidelity as many of these wealthy unions often seem to be, and although they doubtlessly love their children they seem happy to disappear off for long holidays without it breaking their hearts too much.

All in all hugely enjoyable.

4 stars - a definite page-turner. I will be looking out for some of Sheila Kohler's fictional work after this. ( )
  AlisonY | Aug 21, 2017 |
Once We Were Sisters is a terrific book. Kohler is an excellent writer and in this moving and insightful book, she raises all sorts of interesting questions about why we stay in situations that aren't healthy for us, and how we cope or become acclimatized to things that are going on around us. This book also beautifully demonstrates how literature can help us see things more clearly, clarify questions we need to ask about our own lives, and come to understand that we aren’t alone. ( )
  eachurch | Mar 20, 2017 |
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After learning that her sister Maxine was killed when her husband drove them off a deserted road in Johannesburg, Kohler flew back to the country where she was born, determined to reckon with the tragedy and her family's history of choosing unsuitable men. Flashing back to their childhood at the family estate, Crossways, Kohler tells of the death of her father and being raised by their mother, at turns distant and suffocating. She shows how the bond between sisters changes but never breaks, even after death.

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