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The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen - Excerpt

The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen - Excerpt

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3.87

(69)
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When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. These spinster sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.

But back in the summer of 1947, Milly and Twiss knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn't change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn't exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly's eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever.

Rebecca Rasmussen's masterfully written debut novel is full of hope and beauty, heartbreak and sacrifice, love and the power of sisterhood, and offers wonderful surprises at every turn.

To read more about The Bird Sisters or Rebecca Rasmussen please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.
When a bird flies into a window in Spring Green, Wisconsin, sisters Milly and Twiss get a visit. Twiss listens to the birds' heartbeats, assessing what she can fix and what she can't, while Milly listens to the heartaches of the people who've brought them. These spinster sisters have spent their lives nursing people and birds back to health.

But back in the summer of 1947, Milly and Twiss knew nothing about trying to mend what had been accidentally broken. Milly was known as a great beauty with emerald eyes and Twiss was a brazen wild child who never wore a dress or did what she was told. That was the summer their golf pro father got into an accident that cost him both his swing and his charm, and their mother, the daughter of a wealthy jeweler, finally admitted their hardscrabble lives wouldn't change. It was the summer their priest, Father Rice, announced that God didn't exist and ran off to Mexico, and a boy named Asa finally caught Milly's eye. And, most unforgettably, it was the summer their cousin Bett came down from a town called Deadwater and changed the course of their lives forever.

Rebecca Rasmussen's masterfully written debut novel is full of hope and beauty, heartbreak and sacrifice, love and the power of sisterhood, and offers wonderful surprises at every turn.

To read more about The Bird Sisters or Rebecca Rasmussen please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.

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Publish date: Apr 12, 2011
Added to Scribd: Mar 16, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/21/2013

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sed to be when a bird flew into a window, Milly and Twissgot a visit. Milly would put a kettle on and set out whateverculinary adventure she’d gone on that day. For morning ar-rivals, she offered her famous vanilla drop biscuits and raspberryjam. Twiss would get the medicine bag from the hall closet and ster-ilize the tools she needed, depending on the seriousness of the injury.A wounded limb was one thing. A wounded crop was another.People used to come from as far away as Reedsburg and Wil-ton. Milly would sit with them while Twiss patched up the
 poor old robin
or the
 sweet little meadowlark.
Over the years, the number of visitors had dwindled. Now that the grocery store sold ready- bakebiscuits and jelly in all the colors of the rainbow, people didn’t botheras much about birds.On a particularly low morning, while the two sisters were hav-ing tea and going over their chore lists, Milly pulled back the curtainswhen she heard an engine straining on one of the nearby hillsides.When all she saw was the empty gravel drive, the hawkweed pokingup along the edges, she let go of them.“We should be glad,” she said. “Maybe the birds are gettingsmarter.”Twiss brought the breakfast dishes to the sink. They were down
Visit Rebecca Rasmussen's website at www.thebirdsisters.com,fan Rebecca on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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pidgeon92_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Dysfunctional family life ends up with two elderly spinster sisters. A good story, but very, very slow.
mchwest reviewed this
So sorry but I couldn't finish this book, I really wanted it to speed up but too slow and too many other books for me read.
erinclark_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I do love the way this writer writes however I did not care for the story at all. It was quite depressing and sad to see two sisters ending up as old spinster maids towards the ends of their lives when things could have been so much better for both of the if only they had made different choices. I also had a hard time with the jumping back in forth in time, hard to tell where the characters were at times. I think that could have been handled better. I don't think I can recommend this but for the writing.
lauralkeet reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Now in their 70s, Milly and Twiss live in their family home, on a gravel road near the small town of Spring Green, Wisconsin. They are known for miles around as the "bird sisters," for their ability to treat and rehabilitate injured birds, but fewer and fewer people visit them these days. Their days are filled with light chores, walks through the meadow, and sometimes, for Milly, a bit of baking. Mostly they reflect back on lives well lived, but touched by significant events when Milly was 16 and Twiss, 14.Their parents' relationship was already strained when their father had a car accident that prevented him from returning to his job as the local golf pro. Robbed of the one thing that gave him pride and a sense of identity, he isolated himself in the barn, eating meals left for him by one of the girls. Their mother came from a wealthy family, but left those comforts behind when she married. Filled with bitterness, she was unable to comfort her husband. Enter 18-year-old cousin Bett, who comes to stay for the summer, allegedly to improve her health. Her visit leaves an indelible mark on the family and even touches the surrounding community.The central conflict in this debut novel was easy to predict, and there were some plot elements which seemed superfluous, especially the story of a local priest. The book moves fluidly between present and past, which can be confusing at times. The novel succeeds because of Milly and Twiss, richly-developed characters who are always front and center. Milly was considered a beauty in her youth, and gained local recognition for her creative cakes. Twiss was a rebel, fiercely devoted to Milly and her father, but not at all to her mother. Their father, mother, and Bett stand just slightly in the background, very influential but somewhat less tangible. I would have liked to know more about these characters: what were the father and mother like in their early years? How did the father get started with golf, and how did it come to be his life force? And what about Bett's health issues? I also hoped to read more about Twiss and Milly's bird rescue efforts. I realize my interest is greater from having been a bird rescue volunteer, but the title implies this will be given more emphasis than it was.Despite the novel's flaws, I really enjoyed this book. I found myself caught up in the domestic drama, and moved by the relationship between the aging sisters. Rebecca Rasmussen made effective use of foreshadowing, and even so there were some particularly fine "aha moments." The final chapters tugged at my heartstrings, and I was sad to say good-bye to Milly and Twiss.
imbookingit reviewed this
Rated 4/5
What a nice book!By nice, I don't mean that nothing unpleasant happens-- that's not true at all. There's lots of very human bad behavior and a chunk of good, old-fashioned bad luck. But the way the characters deal with it, for better or worse, just made me relax and enjoy the book-- with a tissue for the tears, a couple of times.After all, there are two sisters that grow up loving each other very much, through all of their differences.I loved seeing the sisters as teen and as elderly women, and guessing how they got from one life to another. Although the main paths are pointed out over the course of the book, mysteries remain, as they should.Twiss, the rebel tomboy, was the center of the action, and my favorite character, even if I identified more with the sweet and virtuous Milly, always trying to make everyone else happy. It's easy to see how Twiss would end up as one of the bird sisters, never quite fitting into the expected path of marriage and a family, but Milly? How does she end up as the other bird sister? How does Cousin Bett fit into the long term picture?If Twiss is my favorite character, and Milly is the one I identify with, Bett is the most fascinating. She's older than her cousins, and it's unclear what kind of person she is, and why she acts the way she does. Oh, I had my suspicions all along...The Bird Sisters is a book full of interesting characters, and I enjoyed getting to know them.
bookaholicmom reviewed this
Rated 5/5
The first time I learned of this book, I was excited. After reading the little blurb about it, I was even more excited to learn it took place in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which I am somewhat familiar with. I have visited there many times and it is an excellent place for a novel to take place.Milly and Twiss are elderly sisters who live together in the home in which they grew up. They are known as the Bird Sisters. People bring injured birds to them where Twiss does what she can to heal them while Milly listens to the people that bring the birds to them. When a goldfinch is brought to them, Twiss remembers the summer of 1947, the summer that changed their lives drastically with a visit from their cousin, Bette. The chapters alternate between the present day and the summer of 1947. Milly had her future all planned out right down to the names of the children she planned on having. Twiss, who was a spunky tomboy was happy to be on the golf course with her father and she really didn't think much about the future except that she couldn't imagine life without her sister. We know the two ladies end up living together in their golden years but we don't know how or why they got to that point until we learn of the events of that dreaded summer. The town is full of an array of wonderful, quirky characters. I fell in love with many of them, while some irritated me much in the same way they bothered the girls. I was very tickled with the mention of The Cave of the Mounds, a tourist attraction I have been too many times both as a child and as an adult.Rebecca Rasmussen has a beautiful way with words. The novel is character driven and the prose is simply beautiful. I could close my eyes and see the farm where the sisters lived clearly in my mind. In the end, it is a story of loyalty, love and sacrifice and it is written just beautifully. As soon as that goldfinch was delivered to the sisters I was hooked! This is one book you don't want to miss! This is a book I will reread just so I can visit the sisters again! I can't wait to see what Rebecca will write next!
undermyappletree reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Milly and Twiss are spinster sisters living in the small town of Spring Green, Wisconsin, in the same house where they grew up. They spent their lives mending birds and the hearts of others, but they could not do the same for themselves. As young girls this was not the way they imagined their lives would end. Milly wanted to marry and have a family; Twiss wanted to travel and see the world, but that was not to be. One fateful summer in 1947 the course of history was set for the sisters, and they could not change their destiny any more than they could stop the sun from rising each morning.Most of the story takes place in 1947. It is told from the present in short chapters alternating with longer chapters in the past. I like this technique as it reinforces the perspective of the sisters as elderly women who have lived their lives and are reflecting back on the past. We know the end and now, layer by layer, the events of that summer are revealed. The accident that cost their father his job as a golf-pro, their priest who ran off to Mexico and cousin Bett who came to visit and turned their world upside down.I didn’t realize what a beautiful and heartbreaking story this would be. In their own way the sisters are as damaged as the birds they try to heal. The characters were beautifully drawn and the vivid descriptions of Spring Green made the town come to life. Although I live in a suburb, I am a small town girl at heart and delighted in the picturesque scenes of nature. Rebecca Rasmussen writes with a wisdom and grace far beyond her years.I had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of my copy of The Bird Sisters for months. When it finally arrived I gazed at the beautiful glossy cover with it’s lovely birds and placed it on the top of my stack of books. I finished it last week and although I’ve moved on to read a few other books, I’m still thinking about it, digesting it and enjoying it in my mind.My favorite character was Twiss and not just because she was ‘the bird lady’. I could relate to her on multiple levels. Like me, she wanted to be an explorer or scientist, but never did; she helped birds instead. She didn’t approve of Mrs. Bettle keeping her parrot in a cage; birds should be free. She never did get to travel and see the Continental Divide, “her memories were her suitcase, and her mind her passport”. She has empathy for both birds and people. She chose the lacy dress to please Adele, “who like every other childless woman in Spring Green had probably always wanted to dress a little girl”, and said “It’s like happiness can be sewn”. Twiss appears to have accepted her life and her choices.This is a wonderful book that has something for everyone. A great selection for readers young and old. Highly recommended and one of my favorites this year.
jennladd reviewed this
This review is going to be a little different. I'm going to write about how I read the book, which is a very important part of my loving the book. I have wanted this book for such a long time, partly because the author Rebecca, friended me on Twitter and is so supportive of readers and bloggers and is passionate about what she does as both an author, teacher and a Mom. It's impossible not to be drawn to someone like that. (Plus, she's super nice and promises hugs). And FYI, you should also be aware the the book itself is BEAUTIFUL. Seriously. The cover is so pretty and the pages have the uneven look that reminds me of old diary paper. It's perfect. If you have one of the signed bookplates, good luck deciding where you want to put it, every page has some pretty script or designs on it. It took me about 20 minutes of debating before I decided on the title page. My copy arrived on Saturday and my boyfriend Matt, who has been patiently hearing about this book for MONTHS arrived on Sunday to spend his spring break with me. Normally Matt works on homework and I settle somewhere near him to read and keep him company. We often read to each other as well. Although, he usually reads me alcohol reviews, but I digress. I got to page 17, which is a great scene with Father Rice, and I read it aloud to him. We both laughed out loud and decided that I should start the book over and we'd take turns reading chapters aloud. So that's what we did, sitting on my front steps, bundled in sweaters and drinking kool-aid. Matt even had a few "Oh my God/No she didn't" moments which were worth the books weight in gold.Beginning the book, I identified with Twiss the most. She's blunt, yet honest and is unashamedly herself and I loved that more than words can express. But as the novel progressed, I found myself drawn more towards Milly and the quiet strength that she possessed. I also felt very deeply for their mother, yet there was something about her that held me back from liking her as much as Milly and Twiss.I couldn't decide whether or not I liked their father. Throughout the earlier parts of the novel, I thought he meant well but often times let his own selfishness get in the way of being a better father and husband; then there's THE MOMENT. I felt sorry for him, but in an angry, I can't believe you kind of way. Then there's Bett. She is not a very likable character, in my opinion, but she draws you in. As we learned more about her in the novel I guessed that the novel would have one of two possible conclusions. I was not suspecting both, especially so close together. (Makes you want to read it now, doesn't it?) It was heartbreaking. I didn't know who to feel sorry for first, or who to be more angry at. (You know a book is amazing when fictional characters cause you to cry and rage within moments of each other.) There is a wonderfully phrased moment between Milly and Twiss' mother and father where Rassmussen writes (and I'm paraphrasing) that the parents stood on either side of the closed door like they forgot how doors work. I think that is a great metaphor for the novel.But without a doubt, my FAVORITE characters are Father Rice and Mrs. Bettle. Father Rice (whom Matt loves as well) is a preacher with his own religious struggles. I love that he makes some wrong and very bad choices, but he does them for the right reasons. Mrs Bettle charmed me solely because she chose to live with a parrot rather than a man. Just writing that sentence makes me smile.The only thing that I found a bit disconcerting, was that it does take a moment to get readjusted to the present day parts of the story after spending several pages or chapters reading about the summer when Milly and Twiss were young girls. But it's not overly distracting and surely doesn't take away from the novel in any way. It's more of an "Oh, wait..." feeling.I think The Bird Sisters is a charming, wonderfully written novel that is more than worth the read. I am still thinking about various scenes and characters and how they impacted the novel overall. I'm sure it will stay with me for a very long time and I encourage you all to add it to your TBR stacks.
frisbeesage reviewed this
Rated 3/5
The Bird Sisters tells the sad, sweet story of Milly and Twiss, sisters born to parents who long for everything they can't have. Their father is a golf pro, a golden boy always looking for the admiration and respect that comes with his talent for golf, until he suddenly loses that talent and has to remake himself. Their mother longs for glamour and style as spends her days trying to make ends meet in a small, backwater town. Milly works to comfort and hold her family together with elaborate and delicious baking projects and Twiss runs wild in the fields around their home, tormenting the snapping turtles. Then one hot and humid summer everything comes to a head with the visit of a sickly but scheming cousin.This debut novel is mostly about the relationship between the sisters, how they know, love and forgive each other everything. Their differences, one longing for domesticity and comfort while the other wants wildness and adventure lead them both to give up everything in the protection of the other. I really enjoyed the close examination of this bond and the juxtaposition of their relationships with their cousin and parents. The story focuses on their early years as remembered by them in old age. I wish there had been more of their middle years, the time when they are actually rescuing birds together. Still, it is beautifully written in an old-fashioned, quiet way and perfumed with a scent of melancholy and sadness.
susiesharp_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Read This Book!!Enough Said!Oh ok I’ll add moreYou will love these sisters, so close yet so different Twiss has a smart mouth and always seems to speak her mind and Milly is demure and shy and always puts everyone’s needs above her own no matter the cost to herself. Then there is their parents the mother who dreams of Paris and wanting more than her lot in life has given her, and the father who is a golf pro until “the accident” and can’t play golf anymore and moves to the barn. Then there is cousin Bett who comes for the summer, the summer that changes everything.We first meet the elderly spinster bird sisters Twiss is still a curmudgeon and Milly is still sweet however, once you meet the teen sisters you know something drastic happened that caused these girls to become the elderly never married Bird Sister. Of course Twiss has vowed to be the world’s most interesting spinster and looks on it with a kind of affection (as Milly puts it). But teen Milly has hope of a marriage and children.I can’t say anymore on the story without spoiling it. What I can say is this is a beautifully written book there is no skimming here you will want to read every word, savor it, chew on it and thoroughly enjoy it. You will fall in love with Twiss and Milly smile with them and cry for them. This book has risen to the top of the best reads of the year and it will take a powerful book to knock it off of its perch. Like I said at the beginning Read This Book!Rebecca Rasmussen is a new author to watch out for her writing is so beautiful I look forward to much more from her!5 Stars

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