Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press


by Lily Tuck

From National Book Award winner Lily Tuck, a subversive short novel of jealousy and desire that tells the story of a new marriage from its surprising inception through its provocative denouement.

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 176
  • Publication Date September 05, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2711-2
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.25"
  • US List Price $20.00

About the Book

Lily Tuck’s critically lauded, bestselling I Married You for Happiness was hailed by the Boston Globe as “an artfully crafted still life of one couple’s marriage.” In her singular new novel Sisters, Tuck gives a very different portrait of marital life, exposing the intricacies and scandals of a new marriage sprung from betrayal. Tuck’s unnamed narrator lives with her new husband, his two teenagers, and the unbanishable presence of his first wife—known only as she. Obsessed with her, our narrator moves through her days presided over by the all-too-real ghost of the first marriage, fantasizing about how the first wife lives her life. Will the narrator ever equal she intellectually, or ever forget the betrayal that lies between them? And what of the secrets between her husband and she, from which the narrator is excluded? The daring and precise buildup to an eerily wonderful conclusion is a triumph of subtlety and surprise.

With Sisters, Lily Tuck delivers a riveting psychological portrait of marriage, infidelity, and obsession—charting with elegance and insight love in all its phases.

Tags Literary


“Another minimalist masterpiece, a tight knot of a novel filled with intertextual puzzles, pathos, and happy rewards. . . . Tuck is able to pack so much heft into such a small package.” —Eugenia Williamson, Boston Globe

“National Book Award-winning novelist Lily Tuck takes a sly slant on divorce in this marvelous elliptical novel.” —Jane Ciabattari, BBC.com, “Ten Books to Read in September”

“Tuck expertly deploys revelations like land mines. In time, it’s clear that the narrator is expert at distracting herself from actions that have her racked with a guilt she’s not ready to acknowledge. She creates smoke screens: references to Václav Havel’s letters, and quotes from erudite novelists from Philip Roth to Mario Vargas Llosa. But she keeps colliding into the matters of loss, fear and betrayal she’s trying to wriggle free from. We know very little about the man she married, and only a little more about her stepchildren, which underscores Tuck’s point: A marriage has as much to do with what we think of ourselves as what we think of the person we married.” —Mark Athitakis, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“With her signature clipped and measured prose, National Book Award winner Tuck’s new novel is elegant, raw , and powerful . . . Though compact enough to be read in one sitting, it’s also magnificent enough to be reread and renewed.” —Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)

“In her signature crisp, exacting prose, Tuck’s seventh novel haunts the territory of marital jealously with delicacy and finesse . . . the novel’s quiet rooms, fragmented form, sensual descriptions of food, wine, and fabric, and, above all, its dreamy pace combine to lull the reader into a reverie from which the actual plot’s sudden climax comes as a rude awakening. Masterfully detailed and elegant in all its parts.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Her circumscribed narrative cocoons always release carefully shaped butterflies of observation and wisdom. Sisters is another wonderful Tuck prism . . . With Tuck, you get a smattering of everything snugged into a tight package. Sisters is a novel about marriage, family, sex, jealousy and vanity. Its narrator makes her way through entanglements and digressions as her life moves toward a surprising but fitting outcome. Tuck’s cocoon once again yields a butterfly. All nine of her works of fiction will take less than a foot of your bookshelf. Have at ’em!” —Shelf Awareness

Praise for Lily Tuck:

“A genius with moments . . . Her ability to capture beauty will remind readers of Marguerite Yourcenar and Marguerite Duras.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Tuck packs a small universe and decades of emotional history into each story.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Tuck’s unflinching eye to detail and faithful ear for dialogue bring to life the brutal, the tragic, and the melancholy.” —Boston Globe

“A masterful, insightful, readable writer.” —The Rumpus

“Tuck’s prose is elegant.” —New York Times Book Review

“Tuck’s fundamental focus [is] on the vicissitudes of relationships between men and women—and in this she is a master.” —Shelf Awareness

Praise for The Double Life of Liliane:

“Compels the reader to appreciate bare-bones storytelling and minimalist scenes over warts-and-all portraiture and barnstorming set-pieces . . . After a fashion we stop questioning how much of what we are reading is memoir and how much of it isn’t, and simply surrender to the elegant, limpid prose of this, the most beguiling work of Lily Tuck’s career.” —The Millions

“Enlivening.” —New Yorker

“Intriguing . . . intricate.” —Entertainment Weekly

“As with Tuck’s other books, the narrative voice here performs a delicate balance between immediacy and remoteness.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“Intriguing and intelligent . . . Tuck simultaneously creates a layered portrait of a family and the historical eras it lived through and questions the possibility of definitively capturing or summing up human lives . . . a high-wire act . . . exciting in its sweep, ambition, and conceptual intricacy.” —Boston Globe

“Remarkably seamless . . . Sebaldian both in its tell-tale use of unsourced, evocative photographs and in its hypnotically smooth flow of recollection . . . hauntingly lovely.” —Huffington Post

“A mosaic of storytelling that is both poetic and absorbing . . . Tuck inhabits the spacious realm of the imagination, shifting time zones and historic periods effortlessly, weaving memories and photographs, family stories and facts, as Liliane’s mesmerizing portrait emerges.” —NPR.com


In one of the photos I saw of her as a young woman, she is pushing a baby carriage—an old-fashioned big black baby carriage—down a city street in Paris. The street is shaded by large chestnut trees and, in addition to pushing the carriage, she is holding a little dog on a leash. The dog, a black terrier, is straining at the leash.

“Heel,” she could be telling the dog. “Heel, damn-it,” but the dog pays her no attention.

“She didn’t like dogs much,” my husband once told me. “She liked cats. I hate cats,” he adds.

“I love dogs,” I told my husband.

* * *

At first I had pictured her in a house full of cats. Cats everywhere. Cats stretched out on the sofa, on the chairs, lying on top of the kitchen table, sitting on the windowsill licking themselves clean, eating from bowls on the floor. A mess. I was reminded of the book I had just read about poor Camille Claudel, Rodin’s discarded mistress, made mad by neglect and poverty. Her apartment on the Quai de Bourbon in Paris, a home for feral cats.