Emma Tennant: The Bad Sister

(361 words)
  • Gina Wisker (University of Brighton)

The Bad Sister (1978) is a tale of witches in contemporary life. Drawing from and reinterpreting James Hogg\'s classic Gothic taleConfessions of a Justified Sinner, which focused on an evil alter ego, the novel is itself rather schizophrenic, alternating between a documentary account of the murder of Michael Dalzell and his daughter, tracked down by an editor, and a hallucinatory account maintained by Jane, the other, illegitimate daughter, who seems to have perpetrated the crime.

Rejecting his less conventional lover, Michael Dalzell chooses a society girl and settles happily on the Borders of Scotland, only to have this relative peace disturbed by the intrusion of “fierce-looking women” (p.12 in

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Wisker, Gina. "The Bad Sister". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 January 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1527, accessed 28 September 2016.]