Vanessa and Her Sister

By: Priya Parmar

Released: December 30th, 2014 by Ballantine Books

Length: 368 Pages

Rating: Two Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 We all know about Virginia Woolf. But how much do we know about Vanessa Bell, her painter sister? This is her time to tell her story?

Told through diary entries, the novel was written more definitively rather than as an involving, engrossing narrative. This happened, then that, plus this other thing with so and so. The novel didn’t feel like a novel. It felt like a diary, which it was. It was a diary. I was really excited to read this novel, but it missed the mark in so many ways. First, is my big complaint of not feeling like a novel. I didn’t realize it would be comprised of Vanessa’s diary entries. There were postcards and letters scattered about, but they were written by other characters which I thought was weird, at first. Then, I started to prefer them as Vanessa began to get on my nerves.

Vanessa was written okay, I felt. She got very whiny towards the middle. She wasn’t this strong minded thinker as she was in the beginning. Which, with a cheating husband, I can believe. But, as I later found out, with her never keeping a diary, there was no reason to make her extremely whiny. I missed her toughness. It became scattered about. The side characters were becoming much preferred.

Her relationship with Virginia, although present in the novel, was not the main focus as it is suggested in the title. The entries cover all of Vanessa’s life, including the boring aspects of how much food she should order for parties. There was too much minute details that wasn’t interesting in the least. I wanted the focus to be on her relationship with her sister. Even when a particular event was taking place, the focus was often shifted.

This was a hard read for me. I’m giving it two stars, but it might deserve one. There weren’t many good aspects in this novel. I didn’t find much that I liked. I often passed the random correspondences. I didn’t truly connect with Vanessa. But, mainly, I had a huge issue with the format. I hated the diary entries. It was the way it was done. How it was all in the past. Her fights with Virginia (Ginia) had already happened so you can’t experience them. You can’t connect with anything because it’s all told matter of factly. How can a reader feel anything? I unfortunately don’t recommend this book. I wish I could. The cover is so pretty. The synopsis sounds good. But, it did not succeed for me in what it intended to do.