When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…
Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.
Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.
Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.
Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.
And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.
The Favorite Sister is an upcoming publication by the author of the best-selling mystery novel Luckiest Girl Alive, which I read in the fall last year and unfortunately found neither as engrossing as other readers nor as reminiscent of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train as it has been aggressively marketed to the audience. Despite my slightly underwhelming experience with that book, as I was browsing through the Edelweiss catalog my interest was naturally caught when noticing that a new Jessica Knoll work of fiction was available for advance reading. I felt fortunate and surprised at the same time the moment when my ARC request was approved and I immediately started The Favorite Sister.
Thematic wise, the plot is constructed around a reality TV series titled Goal Diggers that features successful women owning profitable businesses or making a prosperous living from other sorts of activities (e.g. writing), seemingly meant to serve as a source of inspiration to aspiring and ordinary female entrepreneurs. In reality, Goal Diggers lays more emphasis on the dynamics of the relationships between the current protagonists and the ongoing or emerging conflicts and tense situations generated by the women’s strong willingness to maintain the fans’ interest in their persona and therefore prolong their participation in the show. I believe that Jessica Knoll did a praiseworthy job with regard to genuinely capturing the drama of a reality series, the behind-the-scenes aspects which are often considerably different from those presented to the audience, the ever increasing competitiveness between the participating women who are vying for popularity and appreciation in the eyes of the viewers as well as the Goal Diggers producers. Furthermore, Knoll did not shy away from displaying an abundance of diversity in her book in several regards, another aspect in addition to the aforementioned ones that contributed to my higher enjoyment of The Favorite Sister as compared to the author’s previous publication.
Interesting and unsettling was the way in which Knoll developed the narrative perspectives in that the reader gets a direct insight into the mechanism of Brett, Kelly, and Stephanie’s minds through first-person narratives, while Lauren and Jen’s psychologies are indirectly grasped by the reader through the way the other characters view the two. There is an event in the second half of the book that somehow explains the structure the author opted for, in my opinion. As you might have already noticed, I have not mentioned anything murder-related in my review yet and this is not random as the death of one of the protagonists represented nothing but the mere culmination of the rivalry between the women in the show. Other than that, the book wants the reader to understand the personalities of each protagonist and those things that drive their actions in their public and personal lives. I will not go so far as to say that the novel lacked decent twists and revelations, but these literary devices were not the reason why I kept turning the pages.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize the quality of Knoll’s style of writing. She undoubtedly makes proper use of her vast, intellectually sophisticated vocabulary when crafting her novels. However, as I said in my review of It’s Always the Husband, having the impression of reading an overwritten novel can be an exhaustive and at some point not enjoyable experience. This is how I felt as I progressed through The Favorite Sister.
All in all, I am glad I had the opportunity to read The Favorite Sister in advance and I think that Jessica Knoll brings an array of novelties in her second publication and takes a new creative direction than those realms she explored in the Luckiest Girl Alive. Bearing all this in mind,The Favorite Sister can be deemed a worthwhile read and I am convinced it will appeal to those who have been captivated by the Luckiest Girl Alive.
I would like to thank Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for supplying me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.