THE SISTERS SWEET
By Elizabeth Weiss
Elizabeth Weiss’s debut novel, “The Sisters Candy,” is a sublime, immersive household saga set inside the duplicitous tradition of early-Twentieth-century vaudeville. Leonard Szasz, an out-of-work set designer, persuades his spouse to create an act that can get them again into present enterprise — the household enterprise, as he’s keen on reminding her. They’ll harness their twin daughters, Harriet and Josephine, into elaborate costumes, and parade them across the nation as a pair of singing and dancing conjoined twins. Their mom, Maude, a former showgirl, is much less enthusiastic concerning the thought, however — having no different monetary prospects — reluctantly agrees.
After they start, the ladies are 5 years previous, fairly and charming, and the act takes off in no small half due to Josie’s pure expertise and charisma. “Josie was smiling wildly, theatrically. I felt the stirring of a robust need to carry out, and I knew it had been Josie’s need first, that she had handed it to me,” Harriet tells us, recounting their introduction to life on the stage. The ladies have a bond distinctive to twins, nearly psychic; they embrace this new enterprise, however for various causes. And that’s the first, invisible severing of the bond between them. Harriet performs to please her sister, to stay linked. Josie does it for the wild rush of applause and her thirst for extra grows in proportion to their act.
Harriet, the dutiful, observant daughter, is raring to guard the household secret, rigorously sustaining the general public persona at the same time as the ladies jockey for place in personal, every lapping up no matter affection they’ll get from their eccentric father and reserved mom. “Backstage, Mama fastened our hair, however with an uncommon tenderness in her contact that made me need to lean towards her fingers like a petted cat.” The lion’s share of Harriet’s devotion is reserved for her sister, nevertheless, and he or she by no means suspects that Josie is outgrowing the life that has been pressured upon them.
It’s Josie, reckless and egocentric, who refuses to stifle her burgeoning ambition. After they flip 15, she dramatically exposes the act as a fraud and runs away to Hollywood, the place she transforms herself into Josephine Wilder, ingénue, star of the silver display.