Intimate brother-sister relationships in literature--healthy & otherwise

Before anyone goes all freakazoid on me, I do NOT mean sexually intimate. Keep your incest to yourself: I’m looking for examples, primarily in fiction, of brothers & sisters whose involvement in one another’s emotional lives is a trifle more intense than normal, but still basically healthy. The first example that comes to mind is Tom & Savannah from The Prince of Tides, but I’m ambivalent on whether that should count as healthy. On the one hand, Savannah is definitely better off for having Tom in her life; on the other hand, she is far from an example of stability.

Anybody have a better example?

Flowers in the At…oh, sorry. You said not sexual…

The Member of the Wedding, although that’s more of a one-way intimacy, in that Frankie imagines that she’s much more of a factor in her brother’s and his bride’s lives than she actually is.

Did I mention I’m working on a theme for July’s book club picks, and thus want books that (a) appeal to adults, and (b) do not suck?

Ada by Nabo…oops, need I say more?

A rather weird one is Yuri Zhivago and Tonia Gromeko in Dr Zhivago. They are raised together in a sibling relationship but later get married. The Gromekos are presented in the book as “distant relatives” of Zhivago’s mother, but Lean’s movie changed it to Yuri & Tonia’s mothers being “good friends.”

Well, fine, be that way. :stuck_out_tongue:

Off the top of my head, there’s a lot of loving brother-sister relationships in the Brother Grimms’ tales–The Seven Swans, for example, where the sister ultimately braves burning at the stake to save her brothers.

Ophelia and Laertes in Hamlet don’t have a complete set of marbles between them, but their relationship seems to be pretty affectionate. How about Sebastian and Viola in Twelfth Night?

The Wimseys have a good sibling relationship depicted in Clouds of Witness.

Do you want specifically brother and sister, or any sibling? 'Cause the sisters in Pride and Prejudice have a good relationship. Actually, now that I think about it, while the Bennett sisters have a good relationship (except for Lydia, I suppose), Mr. and Miss Bingley have an interesting, intimate, though somewhat dysfunctional relationship.

There are a lot more children’s books that I can think of. The template for a British children’s book seems to be four siblings, two brothers and two sisters. The oldest sister is the mother-substitute, making sure all the younger children get their tea regularly. Her name is Susan.

Likewise with Dr. Frankenstein and his step-sister, which creeped me out more than the monster.

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables. Neither of them ever married (Matthew out of utter shyness, and Marilla out of pride, we learn), and so they just kept living together, eventually adopting Anne. What we see of their relationship is rather sweet – each tolerant about each other’s foibles, but willing to call one another on their faults if one goes too far.

Although they were not biologically brothers, and the relationship may not qualify as “healthy,” you might take a look at Walter Mosley’s Fortunate Son. I found it very moving, by which I mean I cried about 20 times reading that book.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver has some good portrayals of relationships among sisters.

Charlie and Camilla in The Secret History.

Though if I remember correctly, there was some sex going on between them as well.

And murder, and alcoholism.

Two from John Irving:

Franny & John in Hotel New Hampshire

Duncan Garp & Ellen James in The World According to Garp. Ellen is taken in at age 19 by the Garps, and she and Duncan (and Duncan’s sister Jenny) become “thick as thieves.” Duncan and Ellen maintain a “lifelong flirtation.”

Don’t Holden Caufield’s feelings about his little sister (feelings as in feeling that she is one of the children “coming through the rye”) play heavy on the theme of Catcher in the Rye? It’s been a long while since I read it.

I thought, even when he was feeling the most tender towards Phoebe about something she did or said, or something that happened to her, it was in a protective vein, especially overlayed with his cynicism and jadedness about the world.

It’s been a while since I read it though, also.

Simon and River Tam from Firefly.

Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But I thought those sort of feelings (the way that Holden’s feelings for/about/towards his sister played such a huge role in his emotional state throughout the book) were what the OP was looking for.

You’re right.

I forgot to elaborate to say my take on the intensity of emotion was more about Holden and his solipsism, and his feelings of protectiveness, jadedness and sentimentality (especially towards Ally) were more about him alone and the symptoms of his impending (mini-)breakdown. While he did really care, the intensity, to me, was about something else.

Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia?

I like the relationship between Fanny and William Price in Mansfield Park. They’re a very close brother and sister who truly love each other and are deeply concerned about the other’s welfare and happiness.