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Sisterlandby Curtis Sittenfeld
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Synopses & Reviews
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.
“Psychologically vivid....Sittenfeld’s gifts for portraying the inner lives of her heroines [bring Sisterland] closer, in terms of emotional chiaroscuro, to two classics about pairs of sisters, The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett and The Easter Parade by Richard Yates....Sisterland is a testament to the author’s growing depth and assurance as a writer.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Novelists get called master storytellers all the time, but Sittenfeld really is one, a kind of no-nonsense, BabyBjörn-wearing Scheherazade....What might be most strikingly excellent about Sisterland is the way Sittenfeld depicts domesticity and motherhood.” Maggie Shipstead, The Washington Post
“[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
“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
“Full of quiet, surprisingly relatable moments, [Sisterland is] a thoughtful look at the near-supernatural closeness between sisters....As she did so well in her first novel, Prep, Sittenfeld richly evokes the daily lives of young women who are trying to figure themselves out....Sisterland is a compelling portrait of what it’s like to grow up alongside your best — and worst — self.” Entertainment Weekly
“Arresting....Captivating....Sisterland is a long story of shake-ups: eerie precognitions, seismic shifts, lapses in fidelity. Like life itself, it graphs both the agonizing longueurs of domestic life and the horrific thrill of sudden disasters....Character is [Sittenfeld’s] great strength, and the moral complexity of ordinary life her main subject....Sisterland unfolds like a good prophecy — inevitable and shocking.” San Francisco Chronicle
Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, are extremely close — sharing a room, weathering the eccentricities of their parents, and delighting in the music and movies of their 1980s childhood. But in junior high, Kate makes a fateful decision that drives the sisters apart and sets them on different paths toward adulthood. Years later, Vi is living on the fringes of society while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, is doing everything she can to fit into suburban life. After a chance occurrence in the middle of the night, the sisters find themselves drawn together once again, forced to face the secrets of the past and to reconcile the differences between them. As the sense of order Kate has worked so hard to create in her adult life begins to falter, it’s not clear to her whether Vi, the one person who knows her best, will save Kate — or be her undoing.
About the Author
Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of the novels Prep, The Man of My Dreams, and American Wife, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her nonfiction has been published by The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Allure, and Glamour, and broadcast on public radio’s This American Life. She graduated from Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
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