The Lost Sister By Tracy Buchanan

As you can probably guess from the title of the book, this story is all about sisters – so it instantly had me intrigued.

My sister is one of my favourite people. She’s strong, fiercely intelligent and the funniest person I know… over the years she’s been both my hero and my mentor. I cannot imagine life without her and the relationship we have. In short, I am incredibly lucky and I know it.

The plot (no spoilers) is simple, Becky’s parents separated when she was young and now in her thirties, she discovers her mum may have had another child, so sets out to find her.

The narrative alternates almost perfectly between Becky and her mum Selma, though they cover different times and places.

Whilst the book follows the search for the ‘Lost Sister’ it explores so much more. From an outsider’s perspective, Selma is your typical ‘fallen woman’ trope – she’s confident, she’s sexy and she knows it. She leaves her husband and is more interested in her writing career than her child.


opened book on tree root
Photo by rikka ameboshi on

Selma is everything society believes a woman should not be. She acts like a ‘good’ woman wouldn’t. She offers to bake for a child’s birthday purely to show off… then buys a supermarket cake to pass off as her own. She knows she has to keep up appearances, but honestly, she’s beyond caring. Her fucks have well and truly flown and they are not coming back.

Her daughter is the antithesis. She’s honest, whilst Selma gains a reputation for deception. She’s family orientated, kind to her elderly neighbours and rescues dogs. She’s the heavenly Madonna to the fallen angel.

As the plot progresses it’s hard not to fall for Selma – she serves as a stark reminder. Our parents aren’t just parents. Before us, and after us they are people. People with hopes, dreams, desires and fears. They have their faults and their sins. They are human.

Touching upon mental health, romantic relationship and family ties, it could be viewed in a similar light to The Third Life Of Grange Copeland.  The influences of a poor mother-daughter relationship are passed down the generations, with each new daughter running from the same hurt.

The characters are well crafted, the descriptions of food are numerous and the geography vast. Basically it’s the perfect piece of escapism for our current lockdown.

The plot twists are often and unforeseen. In fact, I had to ring my mum at the end (she’d lent me the book pre-lockdown) because I was flabbergasted by the ending – and for two reasons.

Whilst it focuses on families, it just goes to show that we never really know what someone is going through and that personal redemption is often granted, but invisible.