My brother - my sister


October 18, 2021

My brother - my sister (English original title: I Heard My Sister Speak My Name) is a semi-autobiographical novel by Thomas Savage, which was published in 1977 by Little, Brown and Company. It is the only work by the author that is completely available in German translation.


Part One: Narrator Tom Burton, a middle-aged man who lives with his writer wife in Crow Point, Maine, introduces himself. It then goes back to 1912 when a woman named Elizabeth Owen gave birth to a girl in Seattle and put her up for adoption. The child was adopted by the McKinneys, through the Reverend Matthews' mediation, who had just lost their son. Mr. McKinney works as a lawyer, and the girl named Amy grows up in a loving, if sterile, home. The McKinney's attempt to adopt a boy fails. Amy, in turn, learns at the age of eight that she has been adopted, which she can never quite get over. Her adoptive parents die very old and leave her a letter to open if she wants to find out more about her birth parents. Amy marries the administrative employee Philipp Nofzinger, from whom she divorces after a few years. The marriage is childless, Amy keeps Nofzinger's last name. She finally opens the letter, which tells her the names of her birth parents: Benjamin H. Burton and Elizabeth Birdseye Sweringen, who married shortly after their birth. She learns through a lawyer that Ben Burton was living in a dump shortly before his death. She goes to the hotel and is disappointed; she breaks off further research, only to learn years later that there had been a mistake in researching her father and that he was not the man in the dump. The lawyer advises continuing the search for the family on the maternal side. Second part: In 1870, George Sweringen found gold in Jeff Davis Creek, which ensured the prosperity of his family. Son Thomas Sweringen later falls in love with the feisty teacher Emma Russell. Both marry and Thomas gives her two sheep for the marriage, which form the basis for her large herd of 10,000 sheep. The family is also growing and Thomas and Emma have numerous daughters and their son Tom-Dick, who is the youngest of the family. The eldest daughter and darling of the father is Beth Sweringen, a beauty. She received a good education and, according to her mother's will, should marry a land surveyor from a good family from the East. However, she does not love this man and meets the charismatic grocery salesman Benjamin Harrison Burton on a trip. When Emma travels to Salt Lake City in anticipation of the First World War to invest in more sheep, since a war always means a high demand for wool for uniforms, Ben Burton visits the Sweringens in Idaho. A little later, Beth confesses to her mother that she fell in love with Ben Burton. Part Three: Tom Burton receives a letter from his aunt Polly at the post office in Crow Point, telling him that a woman named Amy claims to be Beth's daughter. Amy's letter is enclosed and Tom finally writes to Amy that he considers it completely out of the question that Beth had a daughter and took this knowledge with her to the grave - Beth died ten years ago after having been an alcoholic for years. Tom's wife advises him to contact his birth father, and Tom remembers how Ben Burton visited him in the 1920s at his stepfather Charlie Brewer's Brewer ranch and what impression Ben Roamer made on young Tom and also Ben's colorful way of dressing. And how quickly this bill was exposed and his father turned out to be an impostor.

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