Sisterland

Sisterland

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR BY
Slate * Daily Candy * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * The Guardian (U.K.)

"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

"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."-- USA Today
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400068319
Branch Call Number: SIT
Characteristics: 400 p. ;,25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

A combination of domesticity, childcare and sibling rivalry with lots of twists and turns. Recommended by Brittany.


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s
Soundreader
Jul 03, 2017

I really enjoyed this book and the complicated relationship between these twin sisters. The idea that one has more psychic abilities than the other was an interesting twist. Having a sister, I can relate the protagonist, who feels at times constrained by her sister and yet unable to not be near her or to love her, even when her sister does not make the best of choices. There was a lot to unpack in this book. Good for a book club discussion.

s
SLyden
Jun 26, 2015

I don't have to like a protagonist to enjoy a book, though maybe that would have helped.

w
Wong_Anne
Jun 09, 2015

Twin sisters who at a young age learn that they have a ‘sense’ of the future. As adults Kate has suppressed any hint of the ability but her sister Violet has become a psychic. When Vi makes a public declaration about an upcoming disaster, Kate is once again brought into the spotlight. The story is about familial loyalty and divides.

LPL_MollyW May 28, 2015

After reading Prep, a novel about the trials and tribulations of a teen girl at boarding school, and American Wife, a novel whose main character is modeled after Laura Bush, I never expected that Curtis Sittenfeld’s next novel would be about psychic sisters.

Despite the supernatural hook, Sisterland is very much in the tradition of Sittenfeld’s previous novels, which feature startling realistic and unflinchingly honest narrators and examine complex family dynamics. Rather than an angsty teenage outsider or a wife who loves her husband but is at odds with his politics, Sisterland centers around Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, who both have “senses” that give them glimpses into the future. While Kate eschews her given name–Daisy–and her psychic abilities for a quiet life in the suburbs raising her two young children as a stay at home mom. Vi, who makes a living as a professional psychic, predicts a massive earthquake and appears on television warning local St. Louis residents, and Kate can’t escape the fallout, or her own premonitions.

But as anyone who has read her previous novels knows, Sittenfeld doesn’t write about just one event, but guides readers through the lives of her characters by weaving together small happenings from different time periods and slowly drawing a story out of these seemingly unrelated events. Though Kate’s complicated relationship with her sister is at the heart of the book, it also explores the complicated dynamics between married couples, and the challenges of suburban life. Though the premise is paranormal, the story is rooted firmly in the everyday experiences of Kate.

What separates Sittenfeld from other novelists is her ability to create rich, inner lives for her characters. Though never quite likeable, they are highly relateable. Sittenfeld manages to make the minutiae of everyday life fascinating, even if everyday life consists of playdates, errands, and the care of infants and toddlers. I am in awe of her ability to move the reader back and forth in time so fluidly and naturally, and I relish her complex and nuanced characters.

The countdown to the predicted earthquake makes for a suspenseful read, but the nature of the earth-shattering events that unfold will surprise readers.

b
Blabbermouth
Mar 20, 2015

This was my 1st read of Curtis Sittenfeld. I enjoyed her writing style. It just seemed so real & honest, no pretence. She revealed a dry humour throughout. Other people who know this author are disappointed with this particular book, no one rates it very high so I am eager to read others written by her 'cos I liked it well enough. I considered it a goodish read.

Jane60201 Jul 12, 2014

Good but not great. To me an accurate picture of family life of young families today.

m
meggos
Jul 03, 2014

It sounded real interesting but was way too wordy and just way to detail about life. Sometimes those can be ok but not this one. I was sad that the end was not the way it should be but that can happen in real life.

g
gvlee
Feb 21, 2014

I am completely baffled by the ending of this story. The first 90% of the book is about twin sisters who are psychic, and how their abilities affect their relationship. This part of the story is excellent and a real page turner. The last 10% of the story, though, is about one of the sister's marriage. It's like the author cut and paste the WRONG ENDING from a different story onto this one. ???????

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miranda57
Jan 21, 2014

I found the characters all extremely annoying. Even the 2 year old Rosie who can only refer to herself in the third person. Kate is a stuck up prude, Vi is a bohemian slob. Supporting characters are equally one dimensional. Ugh.

loonylovesgood Nov 11, 2013

Different from what I was expecting. The plot was good and the book kept me hooked (I read it in one weekend) but the character of Kate really annoyed me. She seemed snobbish and there were a lot of classist things in the book that annoyed me. I liked Vi, though. And the ending was a little disappointing. Still, I would read another by her.

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