My Sister, Esther

by Martha Baillie,
ISBN: 0888012004

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First Novels - A Stay-at-home Travel Agent
by Eva Tihanyi

The Esther in Martha Baillie's My Sister Esther (Turnstone, 120 pages, $16.95 paper) is anything but strong and independent, and her aim is more to escape than to find "home". She is anorexic, promiscuous, and suicidal, and the novel is about her sister Muriel's need to understand how she got that way.

Baillie's exploration of the family dynamic in action, especially the effect of parents on children (and even more specifically fathers on daughters), is admirable. Yet despite her intense scrutiny, by the end of the novel Muriel still doesn't entirely understand her sister. She seems to have exorcised Esther, not explained her.

Eva Tihanyi's most recent book of poetry is Saved by the Telling (Thistledown).


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