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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Sisterland" by Curtis Sittenfeld~Slowly But Surely


“Novelists get called master storytellers all the time, but Sittenfeld really is one. . . . What might be most strikingly excellent about Sisterland is the way Sittenfeld depicts domesticity and motherhood.”—Maggie Shipstead, The Washington Post
“Psychologically vivid . . . Sisterland is a testament to [Curtis Sittenfeld’s] growing depth and assurance as a writer
.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“[Sittenfeld’s] gifts are in full effect with this novel, and she uses them to create a genuinely engrossing sense of uncertainty and suspense.”—Sloane Crosley, NPR’s All Things Considered

Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife and Prep, returns with a mesmerizing novel of family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief.

From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.

Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.

Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.
Praise for Sisterland
“What’s most captivating about Sisterland is the intimate, intense portrayal of identical twin sisters. . . . [The novel] unfolds like a good prophecy—inevitable and shocking.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“In [Sisterland], the accomplished Sittenfeld . . . is as skillful as ever at developing an intriguing premise and likable characters. . . . Sittenfeld’s affectionate take on sibling rivalry is spot-on.”—People

“The power of [Sittenfeld’s] writing and the force of her vision challenge the notion that great fiction must be hard to read. She is a master of dramatic irony, creating fully realized social worlds before laying waste to her heroines’ understanding of them. . . . Her prose [is] a rich delight.”—The Boston Globe

Wise and often wickedly entertaining . . . Readers who have siblings—especially women with sisters—will likely come away feeling as if the author really is psychic, able to learn the truth of their own dark secrets, and forgive them.”—USA Today


Published by:  Random House
Pages:  397
Genre:  Fiction/Contemporary Fiction
Author:  Curtis Sittenfeld
Website:  http://www.curtissittenfeld.com
Available also on Random House Audio
Purchase:  Barnes & Noble  or Amazon


Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the bestselling novels SisterlandAmerican Wife, Prep, and The Man of My Dreams, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Prep was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005 by The New York Times, and American Wife was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of 2008 by Time, People, and Entertainment Weekly; both were nominated for the UK’s Orange Prize. Curtis’s non-fiction has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Slate, Glamour, and on public radio’s “This American Life.” A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Curtis has interviewed Michelle Obama for Time, appeared as a guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and CBS’s “Early Show,” and been a strangely easy “Jeopardy!” answer.


The Bookish Dame Reviews :

"Sisterland" is a book I waited a while to read because it was like a secret chocolate that was too good to rush into, I thought.  It sat in my TBR stacks for a couple of months where I could see it on a daily basis and savor the time when I could pick it up for a wonderful reading experience.  I had such high hopes.  Maybe my hopes were too high...  I did enjoy the book, but I found it slow-going for the bits of pleasure it gave. 

Curtis Sittenfeld gives us a study in relationships in this novel.  Primarily, it's the study of sisters, of course, but it's also the interactions between friends and husbands and wives, and parents and children.  She is a keen observer of such relationships without a doubt, because no leaf is left unturned, it seemed.  I had a problem, however, in that I found much of the story dragged and I wasn't inclined to become attached to any of the characters so their individual characterizations and "feelings" didn't much touch me.  The closest I came to caring was when she told about the twins as young girls and their relationship to their mother...a sort of non-relationship.

I don't know.  The book left me cold, and I was sorry about that.  I wanted to like it so much!

The supernatural/psychic aspects of the novel were beautifully couched in 21st century skepticism and the fear and trepidation of the other identical twin.  I did enjoy this aspect of the book, but it wasn't enough to carry the whole for me.  I liked the realism of this situation as it played upon the two sisters and their outer circles.

I have to admit this is one of those books I skimmed to the end.  I rarely if ever do that.  I was sad to have to do that here.  Even so...it was a disappointment.  It's one of those books that didn't even conclude in a way I'd hoped.  But, I have to say it was a very well-devised ending!

Here's my conclusion:  I would give the book a 3 stars and a recommendation to wait until it comes out in paperback unless you're just crazy about reading about sister relationships in the finest and not too exciting detail.





I have been eyeing this book for a while (mostly because of my relationship with my own sister) yet when I read the first part of your post, it began to feel like a book that I would care for and when I read that it let you cold, I realized I felt the same way. Too bad, sisters are such juicy material for books. Thanks for sharing your review.


Hi, Alex! I was sooo disappointed. I wish the material had flowed better and was more interesting...


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