• Dr. Stephanie Kriesberg

Bittersweet Story of a Narcissistic Mother

Here’s why I loved The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green. As a fiction lover, I became immersed in the story of an aging actress, Ronnie Sunshine, who summons home her three adult daughters to discuss her dying wishes. Green brings each daughter—Nell, Lizzy, and Meredith—to life. Green takes the reader from the New England countryside, to London, to New York City. It’s a delicious read, although painful at times. Each Sunshine daughter suffered in her own way growing up with Ronnie, a narcissistic mother who really had no interest in raising her daughters, or in anything that was not about her.


As a psychologist who specializes in treating daughters of narcissistic mothers, I was gratified to see the lives of these women so accurately described. For example, Nell, the eldest Sunshine daughter, still lives in the same Connecticut town in which she grew up, where Ronnie lives full-time now that she is not a Hollywood star. Nell’s friends envy her luck.

What a help her mother must be to Nell, a single mother and business owner! Nell never tells them that Ronnie helps if she feels like it. Ronnie would certainly never change her plans to help her daughter. Meredith, persecuted as a girl by rail-thin Ronnie for her weight issues, is engaged to a man she doesn’t love, convinced no one else would want her. Lizzy has worked her way to the cusp of becoming a celebrity food star, but, like, her mother, can’t find contentment in herself or her family life.


If you don’t have a narcissistic mother, you’ll love this book for its rich characters coming together at a pivotal point in their family. If you do have a narcissistic mother, you’ll have the rare experience of reading a novel, and feeling that someone understands your experience.