The Wilder Sister

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In The Wilder Sisters, novelist Jo-Ann Mapson explores mid-life transformation, sibling rivalry, and second chances through two estranged New Mexico sisters who fall for emotionally wounded men. The most intense year of their lives begins when Rose Wilder Flynn’s mare gets pregnant. Soon after, younger sister Lily returns home to re-evaluate her life, forcing Rose to deal with their different personalities and life choices. While Lily is flamboyant and successful, Rose is reserved and gave up her desires to wed husband Philip who cheated on her until he was killed by a drunk driver. Rose feels like a failure at motherhood as she hears from her grown kids only when they need cash, but she is close to her parents Chance and Poppy Wilder whose ranch is the clan’s hub.

Lily gets a second chance at love with former high school sweetheart Tres Quintero, now a local psychiatrist. But after five intimate days together, Tres fails to call Lily and she returns to Los Angeles where her old life no longer fits. So when veteran ranch hand and Lily’s “second father” Shep Hallford goes into the hospital with cancer, Lily rushes back to New Mexico to help Shep die in peace. She takes over his ranch chores and also finds a new sense of peace for herself.

Rose also comes to terms with her love for veterinarian Austin Donovan who drinks to forget a painful divorce and is not ready for romance with her. But when her mare gives birth, Rose gives Austin a second chance as does Lily with Tres. The sisters become friends and neighbors at last, learning blood is indeed thicker than loneliness, jealousy, or regret.