Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

16099180Format: E-book galley

Length: 416 pages

Publisher: Transworld Publishers

Source: NetGalley

From the publisher:

For identical twins, Kate and Violet are about as unlike as two peas from the same pod can be. Except in one respect – they both have a gift, a special kind of intuition that lets them see the secrets that other people hide. But growing up in different from everyone else isn’t necessarily made any easier by having someone else to share it with.

Twenty years later Kate is a mother and housewife who suppresses her premonitions in the hope of leading a normal family life, while Violet lives alone and makes her living as a psychic medium. Then one day Violet ignites a media storm by predicting a major earthquake in the St Louis area. As the date Violet has announced for the earthquake draws nearer, the bond between the twins is stretched to breaking point.

Here’s what I thought:

It’s fair to say I’m a Curtis Sittenfeld fan. I’ve read every novel she’s written, and while I haven’t loved all of them equally, in each I’ve found something that speaks to me. Her debut novel, Prep, remains one of my favorite portrayals of the teenage experience. Her last novel, American Wife, was my favorite work of hers to date–it’s simply brilliant.

So when I saw that she had a new novel coming out, I was quick to request Sisterland. Like Sittenfeld’s previous books, it features some quirky characters, in this case a pair of identical twins who have “senses” which allow them to know things before they are revealed or before they happen.

The story is told from the point of view of only one of the twins, Daisy, which I found was an interesting choice. Daisy is the twin who tries to deny her senses, who wants nothing more than to live a normal life as a stay-at-home mom to her two young children. The twins work together to predict a major earthquake in their local area, but as Daisy never addresses her premonition directly, the reader doesn’t get a clear view of what Violet and Daisy see. Would it have made the story too predictable if we had Violet’s more open-minded point of view?

Sisterland is a story about how we accept or deny who we really are and how other people see us. It’s also about family, to the extent that family are the people who truly know us, no matter how desperately we may try to project a different image to the rest of the world. For Daisy, this comes as both a comfort and a curse. As Violet tells her toward the end of the book:

Whatever happens, wherever you go, you’ll always still be living in Sisterland.

I liked Sisterland overall, although it took me a while to get into and I found the ending to be a bit soap opera-ish and inconsistent with the rest of the book.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Transworld Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book.

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9 thoughts on “Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

  1. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    There was a bit of soap opera in there 😉 I liked this but sometimes felt it was trying to hard…a bit complex where it didn’t need to be perhaps?

  2. kristi

    I’ve never heard of Sittenfeld, but I’ll have to check some of her other books out. This one sounds like it wouldn’t work for me, but maybe I’ll start with Prep. I always hate to start with the author’s best because then I’m disappointed with the next.

  3. kimbacaffeinate

    I have not tried this author, but I know what you mean about finding a little something in each of the books, even if they didn’t blow you away, Lovely review!

  4. Kelly

    Thanks for sharing this review. I also read (and enjoyed) Sittenfeld’s other two novels, so I’ve been super curious about this one. Haven’t heard as much hype as with the other two though. I’m wondering if the ending is part of the reason, based on what you thought.

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