Synopses & Reviews
This piercing, sly debut novel tells the story of one unforgettable month in a Kentucky girls thirteenth year. Charmaine Peakes prophet father has been committed to a psychiatric institution. Her mother, forced to rent out their house and move them down to a trailer on the river, wont stop telling Charmaine things she doesnt want to hear—from marital details and middle-aged doubts to uncomfortable preoccupations with Charmaines changing body. A sanctimonious missionary kid has taken over her real bedroom, where Charmaine discovers his stash of strange and questionable photos. She is being tested at every turn: Where will her choices take her? And her faith? She tries to pray ceaselessly as her father taught, but with so much upheaval, even God seems to have changed.
Like the beloved Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Lay It on My Heart unleashes Southern humor on the effects of a parents mental illness. It brings us into the heart of a family weathering the toughest patch in their lives. But most of all, it marks out the seemingly unbearable realities of adolescence and the power that comes from discovering—and accepting—who you are. A moving, hilarious portrayal of the relationship between mothers and daughters, this book fulfills Angela Pneumans promise as “one of the most astonishingly talented writers today”(Julie Orringer).
"Hoffman's characters are always moving back and forth, challenging our perceptions, daring us to judge them. Her sentences tremble with allegory....In the end, The Story Sisters, for all its magic realism, is about a family navigating through motherhood, sisterhood, daughterhood. It's Little Women on mushrooms. (Bookish sisters beware)." New York Times Book Review
"Hoffman is celebrated for her ability to conjure plausible alternative realities, to sprinkle her landscapes with witches and other mythical creatures, while keeping her stories closely tethered to familiar terrain. There's a mysticism that swirls about her works but, like a late-morning fog, it eventually burns off to reveal a physical and emotional topography that most all of us can recognize." Chicago Tribune
"This bewitching novel explores the bonds of sisterhood like a haunting modern fairy tale." Glamour
"Any new book by Hoffman is an occasion to rejoice, as is the case with The Story Sisters." Sacramento Bee
"The sisters struggle to grow and thrive in the real world will keep you riveted to the pages of this heartbreaking novel about the powers and limits of love." Redbook
"The always dazzling Hoffman has outdone herself in this bewitching weave of psychologically astute fantasy and shattering realism….this is an entrancing and romantic drama shot through with radiant beauty and belief in human resilience and transformation." Booklist (starred review)
"Painfully moving....there are beautiful moments throughout." Kirkus Reviews
"Keeps readers heartbroken yet spellbound, turning the pages." Library Journal
Alice Hoffman's previous novel, The Third Angel
, was hailed as "an unforgettable portrait of the depth of true love" (USA Today
), "stunning" (Jodi Picoult), and "spellbinding" (Miami Herald
). Her new novel, The Story Sisters
, charts the lives of three sisters — Elv, Claire, and Meg. Each has a fate she must meet alone: one on a country road, one in the streets of Paris, and one in the corridors of her own imagination. Inhabiting their world are a charismatic man who cannot tell the truth, a neighbor who is not who he appears to be, a clumsy boy in Paris who falls in love and stays there, a detective who finds his hearts desire, and a demon who will not let go.
What does a mother do when one of her children goes astray? How does she save one daughter without sacrificing the others? How deep can love go, and how far can it take you? These are the questions this luminous novel asks.
At once a coming-of-age tale, a family saga, and a love story of erotic longing, The Story Sisters sifts through the miraculous and the mundane as the girls become women and their choices haunt them, change them and, finally, redeem them. It confirms Alice Hoffman's reputation as "a writer whose keen ear for the measure struck by the beat of the human heart is unparalleled" (The Chicago Tribune).
A family is shattered when one of three sisters dies tragically in an automobile accident. How the family survives — separates, reconfigures, and reconciles — is at the heart of this exquisite exploration of the ties that bind.
A wry, moving debut novel from a Stegner fellow and "one of the most gifted young writers around" (Lorrie Moore), Lay It on My Heart takes us through one unforgettable month in Charmaine Peake's thirteenth year as she comes to understand the complicated strength of mothers, the trials of faith, and the life-changing power of a true friend.
It's summer in Kentucky, the low ceiling of August pressing down on Charmaine Peake and the town of East Winder. Charmaine and her mother get along better with a room between them, but they've been forced by circumstances to relocate to a tiny trailer by the river. The last of a line of local holy men, Charmaine's father has turned from prophet to patient, his revelation lost in the clarifying haze of medication. Her sure-minded grandmother has suffered a stroke. At church, where she has always felt most certain, Charmaine is tested when she uncovers that her archrival, a sanctimonious missionary kid, carries a dark, confusing secret. Suddenly her life can be sorted into what she wishes she knew and what she wishes she didn't.
A moving, hilarious portrait of mothers and daughters, Lay It on My Heart brings us into the heart of a family weathering the toughest patch of their lives. But most of all, it marks out the seemingly unbearable realities of growing up, the strength that comes from finding real friendship, and the power of discovering—and accepting—who you are.
About the Author
ANGELA PNEUMAN, raised in Kentucky, is a former Stegner Fellow and teaches fiction writing at Stanford University. Her work has been included in The Best American Short Stories, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Her widely praised story collection, Home Remedies, was hailed as “call[ing] to mind Alice Munro” by the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Chicago and in the Bay Area of California.