Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sister Act

All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two different faces, but in tight places
We think and we act as one
Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up
But no one can, nobody can
Lord help the mister
Who comes between me and my sister
~"Sisters" by Irving Berlin (from the movie White Christmas)

I've been reading a lot about Zsa Zsa Gabor in the news recently, since she's been ailing (as of today, she appears to be on the mend). Zsa Zsa is the last surviving Gabor sister-there were three, although most people are least familiar with the oldest, Magda-& when she does pass on that will be the end of an era. There's a cute book about the Gabors called Gaborabilia: An Illustrated Celebration of the Fabulous, Legendary Gabor Sisters.

Maybe it's because I'm one of 2 sisters, but I have always been interested in reading about sisters-from the sisters growing up in Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes to Three Sisters by Chekhov & In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez to famous sisters from history. I first became aware of the Mitford sisters via the biography The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell. That's quite a story-there were five sisters: Nancy, a writer; Pamela, a farmer (& probably the least notorious); Diana, who married Sir Oswald Mosley & spent time in prison during WWII for being a fascist; Unity, who is most infamous for her adulation of & friendship with Hitler; Jessica, a Communist; & Deborah, the only surviving sister, who is the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. They were so famous in the early 20th century that they had a song & a musical written about them. You can check out books from our library system by Nancy & Jessica Mitford, & also the letters of the Mitford sisters.

There have been many famous sisters in history that you can read about:

by Nancy Goldstone
Four sisters — Marguerite, Eleanor, Sanchia and Beatrice — born to Raymond Berenger V, the Count of Provence, and his wife, Beatrice of Savoy in the 13th century.

Alice, Agnes, Georgiana, and Louisa MacDonald grew up to become the wives and mothers of some of Victorian England's most celebrated and influential men. Georgie would marry renowned pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones; Agnes, Edward Poynter, administrator of the Royal Academy of Art and the National and Tate galleries. Louisa's son, Stanley Baldwin, would be a three-term prime minister, and Alice Kipling's son, Rudyard, would give the world classic literature.

Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody were in many ways our American Brontes.

The Garman sisters were members of London's bohemian Bloomsbury set. The complicated lives of Mary, Kathleen and Lorna included affairs with writer Vita Sackville-West, composer Ferruccio Busoni, painter Bernard Meninsky, sculptor Jacob Epstein, poet Laurie Lee and painter Lucian Freud.

Daughters of a wealthy Wall Street speculator and his heiress wife, all three Jerome sisters—Clara, Jennie and Leonie—married titled English husbands, setting a trend for upper-crust Anglo-American liaisons at a time when Britain's landed gentry were in dire need of cash.

Southern beauties who wielded a powerful influence in politics and culture during the tumultuous years from the turn of the 20th century through the Second World War. Lizzie married a Virginian and stayed home, but her siblings conquered Yankee America and England. Irene married Charles Dana Gibson and served as the model for that all-American icon, the Gibson girl. Baby sister Nora, dreamy and artistic, had a turbulent life scattered with lovers including, perhaps, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Nancy entered English society through second husband Waldorf Astor and focused her formidable energies on politics as the first female member of Parliament and hostess to the notorious "Cliveden set." Sensitive, introspective Phyllis survived a bad first marriage and an affair with a British officer to happily wed the brilliant English economist Bob Brand.

by Stella Tillyard
A biography of the 18th century Duke of Richmond's four daughters-great-granddaughters of a king, daughters of a cabinet minister, and wives of politicians and peers. Caroline, the eldest, who eloped at 19; Emily, who married for love at 16, settled in Ireland and bore 19 children; and the two younger sisters, Louisa and Sarah, left home for arranged marriages. Sarah was courted by a young King George III.

by David Grafton
Though they had two brothers, Betsey, Babe &Minnie became well-known in the social world as the "Cushing Sisters", heralded for their charm and beauty from their debutante days onward. They were schooled by their social-climbing mother to pursue husbands of wealth and prominence, and coached to become socially acceptable to important men.

Happy Times by Lee Radziwill

A well-researched and skillfully written look at the aristocratic, Irish Protestant King family, in particular the sisters Margaret and Mary and the role they played in the ill-fated 1798 Irish Rising.

by Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany
Sadie & Bessie Delany collaborated with Amy Hill Hearth this bestseller from 1992, which deals with the trials and tribulations the sisters had faced during their century of life.

The Brontës by Juliet Barker

by Anne Edwards

Also consider watching Hilary & Jackie, about cellist Jacqueline du Pré & her tumultuous relationship with her sister.

1 comment:

Hannah Stoneham said...

what an interesting feature. I have never thought of seeking out books about sisters before