We had the same birthday, but she was a year older, and we looked alike enough to be sisters – little girls with wavy hair and bright staring eyes, although mine were blue and hers were brown. I see us in the bath gazing at each other over sudsy water, our wrinkled feet pressed together and pushing, as music and smoke drift under the door. We don’t know that soon she’ll live with my father and I’ll live with hers, that for seven years we’ll shadow each other around the globe, that the split will form everything about us, that we’ll grow up as each other’s antipode.
Born in Australia, Jane Goodman spent her early years travelling with her family – her mother, father and older sister. But back in Canberra they met another family that was almost a mirror – a father also in the Foreign Service, a beautiful mother and two little girls, almost the same ages. When the two sets of parents first had affairs and then exchanged partners, Jane and her now step-sister Jenny were thrown into a state of wordless combat for the love of their fathers, a battle which ebbed and flowed for many years.
The Sisters Antipodes is a memoir of the author’s childhood and early adulthood, focussing on the impact of the dual marriage breakup, her subsequent childhood, and her tumultuous relationship chiefly with Jenny but also with other members of the family. In parts harrowing but always compelling, this is an absorbing tale.
The Sisters Antipodes: A Memoir, by Jane Alison
Allen & Unwin, 2009
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