“If only a description of people laughing could persuade us”
Rosenfeld’s appealingly dark observations aren’t earth-shattering. And yet the trouble with this book isn’t that the verities are obvious, but that as the novel goes on they fail to become less obvious. In chapters that shift point of view among the siblings, Rosenfeld offers access to the sisters’ hyperventilating introspection. “Why should she have to deal with Perri’s mess while Gus spent the weekend gallivanting?” Olympia asks herself. “Wasn’t Olympia supposed to be the Pretty One in the family? Didn’t that count for anything anymore? Or had the tiara been passed down?” The strings of questions are meant to suggest the texture of thought, and yet the window into the women’s heads reveals a monotonous landscape, the sisters’ respective points of view distinguished only by each one’s obedient adherence to her personality profile. The facts, too, add up with suspicious predictability. We learn from Perri that her sex life with her husband has been troubled; later, Olympia speculates that indeed Perri’s sex life with her husband must be troubled. Experience, Rosenfeld suggests, is something to be confirmed from all sides, like a peer-reviewed study.