Sister Wolf, by Ann Arensberg

I received a free copy of this ebook to review from NetGalley.

9780345438188-us-300Once again, I return to the genre that is not a genre. Literary fiction is defined more by its writing style and what’s not, more than anything else. Ann Arensberg’s novella Sister Wolf is a hypnotic story about a woman trying to build an animal sanctuary on her family’s land, the man who falls in love with her, and a tempest of mistrust and misunderstanding.

Marit Deym is the last descendant of a long line of Hungarian aristocracy. Her parents left the old country with some of their wealth before World War II, but did not leave their imperious manners behind. They bought a big spread in Massachusetts, complete with a Gothic house. Marit, a strange woman raised by stranger people, understands and loves animals more than humans. Marit’s friend Lola is one of her few links to the rest of her species. Lola is the only person who can get Marit to leave her sanctuary (in both senses of the word). The sheriff doesn’t like her and Marit worries that he’s going to go ballistic when he finds out that she’s rescued a pack of wolves.

One day, soon after the wolves arrive, one of the teachers at the blind school wanders into Marit’s sanctuary. Gabriel (not blind) and Marit have an instant connection. Marit instantly tries to mess it up by becoming extremely jealous of Gabriel’s ex-fiancee. Fortunately, he’s a forgiving man and really wants to have more than sex with her.

This is what any summary of Sister Wolf will give you. This makes it sound like a possibly better than average love story. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the chronology is fractured. Arensberg takes us back and forth in time to Marit’s parents to Lola’s school days seducing other girls to Gabriel’s life in Cuba as an aide worker. The language is just this side of overwrought. The dialog comes straight out of a bad play most of the time. I finished it, but I didn’t enjoy this book.

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