The Book

The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay

A tale of two sisters over seventy years that recovers the vibrant and unforgettable voice of Beverly Jensen.

In 1916, Idella and Avis Hillock are children living on the edge of a windy bluff in New Brunswick – a hardscrabble world of potato farms and lobster traps, rough men, hard work, and baffling beauty.  In The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay, we follow them, along with the ornery men in their lives, through tragedy and comedy, all the way to old age.

“Every now and then—maybe two or three times in a decade—a book comes along that's so good you want to buttonhole strangers on the street, show it to them, and say: ‘Read this! It will fill you up and make you glad you're alive!’ The late Beverly Jensen's The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay is exactly that kind of book. It roars from hilarity to horror to heartbreak, sometimes in the space of ten or twenty pages, then back again to hilarity. It's profane, loving, hardnosed, and completely beautiful. If you ever loved The Memory Keeper's Daughter or The Secret Life of Bees, you have been waiting for this book and just didn't know it. Idella and Avis, the sisters from Hardscrabble Bay, stole my heart. They'll steal yours, as well. Read this book. And buy a copy for your best friend, because you'll want to keep yours.”
—Stephen King

“The story of these two sisters, Idella and Avis, travels from Canada to New England, but mostly it travels through their lives and hearts, and it will travel through your heart as well.”
—Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge  

“Contains a good half dozen of the richest fictional characters I've encountered anywhere . . . The book delivers the emotional rush of a great novel.”
—Richard Russo, The New York Times Book Review

 “Wildly hilarious and profoundly moving, Beverly’s book defines character-driven fiction at its best . . . I would rate Beverly Jensen’s unforgettable sisters right up there with Ruby and Ada of Cold Mountain.”
—Howard Frank Mosher

“An original voice, sharp witted and big hearted, as if a rambunctious and deeply troubled family out of William Faulkner’s Mississippi had been tempered instead by the snowy reaches of the North.”
Joshua Tyree, Poets & Writers

Beverly Jensen died of cancer at the age of forty-nine without ever having published her writing. Since her death, her fiction has been championed by such writers as Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates.