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Sisterland
by Curtis Sittenfeld

Overview - "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. .
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More About Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
 
 
 
Overview
"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"
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" 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"

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781400068319
  • ISBN-10: 1400068312
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Publish Date: June 2013
  • Page Count: 400


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Family Life

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-04-22
  • Reviewer: Staff

Delicious insights into sisterhood and motherhood are peppered throughout Sittenfeld’s novel about identical twins with ESP. The story, though, isn’t as convincing as the twins, who are rendered so vividly that readers would be able to pick them out of a crowd. Kate, a stay-at-home mom in St. Louis, Mo., is embarrassed by her sister Violet, who ekes out a living as a psychic. After a minor earthquake in the area in September 2009, Violet’s guiding spirit warns her that a major quake is imminent. When Kate has a premonition that it will occur on October 16, she allows Violet to share the date with the public if she doesn’t reveal its source. Kate tells the story in chapters that alternate between timelines, one beginning with the September quake and one beginning when the twins are born. As a narrator, Kate is introspective and mostly honest, but the backstory is weighed down with unnecessary details and crucial questions remain unasked. As the clock ticks toward October 16, Violet attracts widespread media attention and Kate pleads with her husband not to leave her and the twins at home to attend a conference in Colorado. Sittenfeld (American Wife) offers no fresh perspective on ESP or living with giftedness but delivers a rich and intimate tale of imperfect, well-meaning, ordinary people struggling to define themselves and protect the people they love. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME Entertainment. (June)

 
BookPage Reviews

Questioning family and reality

Curtis Sittenfeld is best known for Prep, her pitch-perfect novel of high school angst, but she is no one-trick pony. She explored questions of love in The Man of My Dreams and gave Laura Bush a fascinating fictionalized life in American Wife. With Sisterland, Sittenfeld introduces us to twin sisters Kate and Violet, bound by a complicated childhood, conflicted friendship and—most importantly—psychic abilities.

Kate and Vi discovered that they had “senses” at an early age, but while Vi embraced and nurtured her premonitions, Kate repressed them. Kate wanted love, marriage and a conventional life, while Vi was always happy to live more on the fringes. When we meet them in their 30s, Kate has the family she always wanted, complete with devoted husband Jeremy and adorable young children Rosie and Owen. Vi is working as a psychic medium and gains international attention when she predicts that a massive earthquake will soon devastate their hometown of St. Louis. It sounds like a strange premise—and it is—but Sittenfeld’s writing is so nuanced, true-to-life and readable, it almost doesn’t matter what she’s writing about.

Kate is our not-quite-reliable narrator, moving back and forth through time to the girls’ childhood with a depressed, reclusive mother and a quiet, passive father; to college, where Kate excels and Violet flounders; and to the present day, where the twins lead vastly different lives, yet are bound by their shared past and visions of the future. As the date of the earthquake approaches, both sisters make decisions that will change their lives forever.

In Sisterland, Sittenfeld plays with our ideas of premonition and intuition and questions the reliability of our perception of current events and memories of the past. Do we see things as they are, or as we want them to be? Do we have control over our lives, or are we destined to follow a certain course? Are things ever as they seem?

The answers, of course, are complicated, and while the plot occasionally dips into melodrama, Sittenfeld never loses control. Sisterland is another Sittenfeld novel to savor, ponder and recommend to friends.

 
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