A tale of sisterly devotion

The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen is a memorable and touching novel that chronicles the lives of two sisters from New Brunswick at the end of the 20th Century.

Avis and Idella are born to a poor farming and fishing family on the Canadian-U.S. border. As young girls they lose their mother and are left with their grief-stricken father and withdrawn older brother.
The novel chronicles the sisters’ lives as they grow into womanhood. Idella becomes a hardworking woman. She marries young and then works industriously to make a life for her self and her family. Her husband has a wandering eye and her in-laws are neurotic, but she is blessed with resilience and intelligence.
Avis, the younger sister, is wild. She becomes a hair dresser. She lives a wild life full of drink, men, and bad choices. She never really settles down, but Idella is her anchor when times get tough.
Throughout their lives the two very different women remain devoted to each other.
Beverly Jensen brings the two plucky sisters to life. I could see them and hear their broad Eastern accents as I turned the pages. 
The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay has few tender moments. The sisters’ lives were hard and their humour was often rough, but their devotion is moving.
Once I began this book I could not put it down. I wanted to find out what happened to Idella and Avis. It was as if they were old friends from home – even though their story is of another time and place. This is the perfect book to while away a long winter’s night. It will warm your heart.
Note: This was Beverly Johnson’s first novel. She was from Westbrook, Maine. She died of cancer when she was just 49. She is survived by her husband and two children.