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The House of the Seven Sisters: A Novel of Food and Family [Hardcover]

Elle Eggels
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 2002
***The perfect summer read - a life-affirming. heart-warming book*** Seven orphaned sisters run a bakery in 1950s rural Holland. Martha, the cldest has a daughter from a failed marriage. Emma, and we view the sisters' story through her eyes. As the sisters grow older they all leave the bakery in search on self-fulfillment and a love of their own. only to return disillusioned. None of the men who catch their eye - the married mayor, a 'cowboy' con man. the hunchbacked boy next door - stand the test of time. After years of drudgery the sisters transform the bakery into a successful supermarket, but just when they seem to be finally getting on top of things their father's Belgian widow shows up with her retarded son and tries to claim the store for herself. The House of the Seven Sisters is a remarkable, magical novel about seven mysteriously exotic women who, both independently and as a family, try to come to terms with the past and carve a path for the future.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company; 1 edition (Dec 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688170706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688170707
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 15 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,880,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Elle Eggels was a fashion journalist until 1996 until she decided to sell her house, travel the world and write a novel. She lives in Holland. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I didn't get to know my father until after his death. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enchanting and humurous 10 Dec 2002
This is a wonderful novel about 7 sisters growing up in the South of the Netherlands in a staunch Catholic small town. They are trying to fend for themselves after their parents die and leave them a pastry bakery. The story has been presented with a light flair for words and a taste for humorously portraying the usual hopes and dreams young people have.
This was one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. Being a fan of the South American writing style prominent in Isabel Allendes and Laura Esquivels work I was pleasantly surprised to read a similar kind of enchanting piece of fiction on the development of a family of seven sisters now set close to home in the traditional social patchwork of the Southern Netherlands. Being Dutch myself I read the book in Dutch and am now anxiously awaiting publication in English so that I can read the book to my husband and can enjoy it all over again. If you have seen the movie 'Amelie' and liked it you will also love this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of family and shattered dreams 15 July 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When Martha and her six sisters are abandoned by their father, they have little choice but to continue working in the family bakery so they can survive. As they grow older each of the sisters will fall in love, or try to escape the harshness of their life, and each have their dreams shattered.

Although this could make for dreary reading, the novel is in fact full of hope and emphasises the importance of family. The imagery is, at times, incredible.

This is an unusual book, very much in the same style as Laura Esquivel's 'Like water for Chocolate' and Joanne Harris's 'Chocolat.'

Really enjoyable, I deducted one star because the only fault I could find was that some aspects of the story were passed over a little quickly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreary. A real waste of time. 16 Nov 2011
By Nicola F (Nic) TOP 500 REVIEWER
I notice that this book has been compared to both `Like Water for Chocolate' and `Chocolat' which really surprises me, because I adored those two books and really struggled to finish this one.

I had high hopes that this would be a book with beautiful imagery and incredible descriptions of food- but it was instead a dull piece of fiction with what could have been interesting little sub-plots glossed over far too quickly and too many characters that never really felt true to life. I didn't care about a single one of them or what happened to them and the ending of this novel felt very rushed- though by that point I was actually past caring if I'm honest.

The book centres on the lives of seven sisters told across thirty-odd years but is not structured in a linear fashion and shifts all over the place to various episodes in the lives of the sisters at random points in time, which is incredibly irritating. A linear structure would have made for more involved reading, at least on my part. The narrative is also told from the point of view of the daughter of one of the sisters- but she remains a bit of a non-entity and I found it hard to focus on anything interesting about her. Her `voice' is also a bit pretentious and fanciful for my liking- though this could be put down to the translation of the story from Dutch.

The plot itself is basically a recap of the relationships between the sisters themselves- for when their other relationships fall apart (for whatever reason and they always do) they can always return home to the family bakery and make tarts, forsaking any other interest that they may have had in their lives to keep the family business afloat. Oh joy. How utterly depressing! Bleak is not the word.

It seems I'm in the minority in really disliking this novel but I really cannot recommend this book. Maybe for me, it all just got lost in translation- but I completely fail to see what is so wonderful about it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seven Sisters lacks baking powder 2 Mar 2003
By A. T. A. Oliveira - Published on Amazon.com
The tradicional recipe goes: Ingredients- eccentric people, a small lost town, either repressed or lost love (or both) and tasteful food. How to prepare: mix all the ingredients there is no way of failing. In case of doubt consult an expert, my suggestions are Joanne Harris's Chocolat; Isak Dinesen's Babette's Party; and Laura Esquivel's Like What For Chocolat.
Elle Eggels seems to have follow that old recipe, and this is exactly the taste we have when reading her novel. You've read it before, and you're read a better story, because it was fresh. `Seven Sisters' is not a bad book, it is just not very good, that's the point. From the begining you can figure out where it will lead you. And the novel is missing in passion. I didn't care too much about the characters. Maybe there were too many people and it always made confusing which sister is who. Eggels has talent, and she should use it better. Her novel reads like a nice pie you're eaten before many times, you may enjoy while eating, but tomorrow you won't remember how it tastes.
1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting characters and not about food. 20 Sep 2012
By klockrike - Published on Amazon.com
What a disappointment. First, I never managed to finish this book, since I found it uninteresting and boring, especially when it came to characters and descriptions of the surroundings. So I never got to the second part when the sisters come back to the bakery. Regardless, this book is really not about food per se. Sorry, can't recommend this book more highly. The references to Chocolate and Like Water for Chocolate on the front are not fair - this book's quality is far below those books.
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair to Middlin' 25 April 2007
By Mary E. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
In The House of the Seven Sisters, Elle Eggels explores the hopes and desires (expressed and suppressed) of seven sisters, as seen through the eyes of Emma, the product of the oldest daughter's short-lived first marriage.

While I had some problems with the book, I thought that the characters were well- developed and sympathetic. I was interested in the women and in the subtle complexities of their relationships. Having been raised in family of eight, I felt that the large-family dynamics in this novel rang true. I had no trouble keeping the sisters straight as I read, and I finished this book in one day.

One problem I had with this novel, however, was the uneven writing. There were chapters that flowed, and then there were sections that most certainly could have used a little rewrite. In chapter 20, for example, the narrator states: "The dishes she had learned to prepare filled us with astonishment as they wandered over our tongues."

I wondered how that line had made it by the editors. Here, as in several places, the author tells us what to think as opposed to leading us where she wants us to go through the richness of detail.

I also had trouble with what appears to be an anti-Catholic slant. The clergy are blamed for causing women to die in childbirth, nuns are presented as heartless and cruel (in the school scenes and in the hospital scenes.) And there is a bizarre and improbable injury caused by a crucifix.

Although the novel ends on a hopeful note, I felt that the closing was rushed, as if the author had hit the page quota and wanted to wrap it all up.

I might recommend it simply on the strength of the charcter development and the detailed exploration of the relationships within a large family. This novel is a little like a made-for-TV movie ~ 'good enough' but not exceptional.
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