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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sisterland
I really wanted to try this one - a few years ago I enjoyed Curtis Sittenfeld's very clever American Wife, the fictional account of a First Lady with more than a passing resemblance to Laura Bush. Her other two books - Prep and The Man Of My Dreams haven't made it off my bookshelves yet. But there was something about the synopsis of this one, the twins with a special...
Published 15 months ago by Welsh Annie

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much detail, not enough plot.
This could have been a fascinating story, investigating the concept of psychic twins, Kate and Vi, who have very different feelings and attitudes towards their senses of precognition. When Vi makes a public prediction of an imminent earthquake, Kate is filled with horror, not least because the prediction may be accurate. If only the author hadn't buried her plot in an...
Published 8 months ago by Hils T


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sisterland, 27 July 2013
By 
Welsh Annie (Wetherby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
I really wanted to try this one - a few years ago I enjoyed Curtis Sittenfeld's very clever American Wife, the fictional account of a First Lady with more than a passing resemblance to Laura Bush. Her other two books - Prep and The Man Of My Dreams haven't made it off my bookshelves yet. But there was something about the synopsis of this one, the twins with a special gift, that really attracted me.

"Sisterland" is the sign on the twins' bedroom door as they're growing up. The identical twins, Daisy and Violet Shramm, are rather forced into their own world: after a traumatic birth experience, their mother withdraws from life into her bedroom, and their father is equally disengaged. Very different in character - a difference that increases as they grow older - the girls discover they have a psychic gift. Daisy (who changes her name to Kate in an attempt to be normal, and leave behind the "Daze" of her youth) settles into life with her professor husband and her two young children. Violet lives life to the full and finally earns her living as a medium, achieving a measure of success in finding a missing child. The turning point of the novel comes when Violet predicts an earthquake will hit their home town of St Louis on 16 October, and a media circus follows, along with other far-reaching consequences.

Kate tells the story, but it alternates between present day and the earlier lives of the twins, with some wonderful descriptions of what life is like in small town America. As the narrator, Kate portrays herself as the constant voice of reason, the stabilising influence, the exemplary mother and child, but the flaws in her character are beautifully revealed and portrayed. Violet is magnificent - the embarrassing relative you wish you could hide, and the source of most of the humour in the book as you watch her behaviour. The relationship between the girls is beautifully drawn, a true love/hate with bonds that can't be broken. The psychic part - the "senses" - is done with a light touch, with a lovely twist towards the end of the book.

It's a beautifully executed novel, full of the small dramas that make life what it is, all set against the minutiae of day-to-day existence. I really enjoyed it. My thanks to netgalley and Transworld for the advance reading e-copy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much detail, not enough plot., 19 Feb 2014
By 
Hils T (South Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sisterland (Paperback)
This could have been a fascinating story, investigating the concept of psychic twins, Kate and Vi, who have very different feelings and attitudes towards their senses of precognition. When Vi makes a public prediction of an imminent earthquake, Kate is filled with horror, not least because the prediction may be accurate. If only the author hadn't buried her plot in an avalanche of mundane unnecessary details! Yes, she is brilliant at invoking an atmosphere of time and place and of portraying the anxieties of a young mother but there were too many things I just didn't need to know and, in addition, I found the ending very "twee".
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book from Curtis Sittenfeld, 29 Jan 2014
By 
A. Linton (Manchester, Manchester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
I loved Prep and The Man of my Dreams, but I have to admit that initially I was a little wary of this one - the subject matter - two twins sisters with psychic powers -sounded more like an Alice Hoffman plot and I'm not overly keen on mainstream authors dabbling in magic realism as the results are often distressingly whimsical.

However I needn't have worried here - the book really is a delight from beginning to end. The writing is excellent - so much so that the whole predictions/psychic insights theme just fits in naturally with the plot - you either believe it's a gift that the sisters have inherited or you don't but it really doesn't overshadow everything else. On the surface this is the story about a psychic predicting an earthquake and the media storm that erupts around her - we see events unfold from the viewpoint of the 'normal' twin Kate who has done everything to blend in as much as possible in complete contrast to flamboyant, attention seeking Vi. Kate believes that she has put her 'witch girl' past behind her with her name change and marriage and fears that she will be dragged back into the spotlight. But is her marriage the safe refuge she believes it to be? I'm sure I'm not the only one who saw a parallel with the TV series `Betwitched' - Kate has extraordinary powers yet she's happy to give them up to be a wife and mother. I loved Sittenfeld's honest portrayal of the day to day dynamics of Kate and Jeremy's marriage - the compromises both have to make for the sake of the family's survival.

This really is a page turner and I had to force myself to put aside so that I wouldn't finish it too quickly. Would really recommend to Sittenfeld fans, this is definitely the best book I have read (so far) in 2014!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Great......, 21 Oct 2014
This review is from: Sisterland (Paperback)
This is a book that promised much yet failed to deliver anything special.

Vi & Daisy(Kate) are twins with "senses".They have glimpses into the future and can sense things about other people. In adulthood Kate is happily married with 2 very young children whilst Vi is making her way in the world as a psychic medium doing readings for people. Vi predicts an earthquake and the media arrive in town. Whilst all this is going on we have flashback chapters to the twins childhood and growing up - mainly concerning Kate.

This is a book with enormous potential. Whether you believe in psychic abilities or not you can see the potential for a very good story. However, as the book progressed the great earthquake story fizzled into nothingness and the big shock of the plot turned into a rather mundane one night stand. The decision by the author to concentrate more on Kate's home life steered this book away from something unusual towards something quite ordinary.

I didn't quite get to grips with the twins. Kate was trying to run from something which Vi embraced. However the characters weren't quite strong enough for me. Kate had moments where she was very passionate and strong - such as when she takes Vi back home from her college - but Vi was quite wishy washy on the whole.

The story was interesting enough for me to want to complete the book and see how it ended. I did feel quite let down and that the author had missed a chance to create a terrific book by erring towards the more ordinary.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld, 15 Sep 2014
By 
Joanne Sheppard (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
A few years ago I read Sittenfeld's excruciatingly well-observed, frustrating coming-of-age novel Prep, about a girl who begs her parents to send her to a New England boarding school only to realise that she can never fit in - or admit that she has made a terrible mistake.

Sisterland revisits some of these themes, and like Prep, it has a narrator painfully ill at ease with herself - so much so that she has even changed her name from Daisy to Kate to distance herself from her childhood and from Violet, her twin sister. Daisy and Violet are, to a degree, misfits purely by virtue of being twins, but to make matters worse they are also psychic, prone to 'senses' about people, places and future events.

Whereas Violet is apparently happy to play the role of eccentric oddball, Daisy only reveals her talent when it seems it can help her make friends with the popular set - and needless to say, this backfires on her. As an adult, having reinvented herself as a housewife and mother to two pre-school children, Kate is every bit as embarrassed by Violet as she ever was - yet equally, also as inextricably linked to her despite their frequent rows. When Violet goes on public record as having predicted a major earthquake in the twins' home city of St Louis, Kate's past becomes not just an awkward shame but a threat to her family life, friendships and marriage.

In Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld gave us a narrator who was frequently selfish, hard to like and frustratingly poor at making decisions, and this carries through to Sisterland. There are times when Kate's feelings towards her chaotic, free-spirited sister seem painfully judgemental, particularly with regards to her weight and sexuality, and yet there are also times when Violet is such an infuriatingly selfish and disruptive influence that we can easily see why Kate would want to distance herself from her. It's also hard to sympathise with Kate when she jeopardises her marriage in the most of foolish of ways, but she at least partially redeems herself when she deals with the fallout from this in a steadfastly determined and courageous way.
poor at making decisions - yet still somehow made the reader sympathise with her. She pulls off a similar feat in

While the twins' psychic abilities are central to Sisterland's plot, this isn't really a book about ESP. It's a domestic drama of families, relationships, guilt and coming to terms with the past. The relationship between Kate and Violet is fascinating - are they really such very different people, or have they consciously chosen to push different aspects of their personalities to the fore? Also interesting - so much so that I'd have liked to have seen more of it - is Kate's relationship with her emotionally inept father, who despite being the sort of parent who buys his daughters low-value Starbucks gift cards for Christmas, is still responsible for some low-key, off-hand revelations that suggest there is more to him than meets the eye, if only his daughters had looked beyond the surface.

This is more a novel of character than of plot; the latter, it has to be said, is not really the focal point of the book and is occasionally disappointing. Overall, though, the small-scale events of Sisterland set against the looming threat of a possible large-scale catastrophe make for a fascinating family drama.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but didn't pull me in, 27 April 2014
By 
Macey89 - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
Identical twins Violet and Kate have grown up as two halves of a whole. With an often absent father and a mother suffering from some sort of implied depression, they are left to find their way through their adolescence together. But Violet and Kate also have a physic gift, with an uncanny ability to see what isn’t there and to predict what’s coming. As children, this gift binds them together, but it also drives others away.

As the twins grow up, their lives take very different directions. Kate changes her name and does everything she can to blend in and conform. She aims to be the model friend, mother and wife. She sees her psychic abilities as the root cause of everything bad that has happened in her past, and she does all she can to supress them. On the other hand, Violet embraces her differences. Exuberant and eccentric, she makes a living as a psychic and has no inhibitions when it comes to embracing life and exploring her sexuality.

Their wildly different choices have been the cause of strained relationships between the sisters their whole lives, but they are still linked by the unbreakable bond of sisterhood. When Violet predicts a catastrophic earthquake and is catapulted into the public eye, Kate is drawn back into the world that she hoped to have left behind. As the date of the event draws near, tensions rise. For Kate, the cracks in the life she has built will be revealed. For Violet, her life is about to be put under a microscope by the media.

Whether you believe in the twins’ powers or not is up to you. The most important thing is that they believe in them, and this shapes the people that they become. Their belief in Violet’s prediction changes their lives, and it becomes almost self-perpetuating. It raises the question of whether believing in something hard enough can ever make it true? And how much of our destiny is down to the choices we make and how much is down to forces outside of our control?

Identity is a major theme, and Kate in particular struggles to be comfortable and confident in her own skin. Her insecurities have defined her throughout her entire life. Throughout the book, Sittenfeld constantly brings us back to how our own perceptions of ourselves can shape who we are and where we end up.

As with all Sittenfeld’s previous novels, Sisterland is extremely well-written and entirely readable. However, I struggled slightly to connect to the subject matter. I found Kate’s story quite frustrating at times, and as we see things entirely from Kate’s point of view, I found it hard to relate to Violet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly good, 18 Aug 2013
By 
Fiona (Leeds, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
Subtle, thoughtful, compassionate and intelligent.
One of the best novels I've ever read about young children, love and family relationships.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You can choose your friends ..., 23 Jun 2013
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
I became a fan of Curtis Sittenfeld's writing after reading American Wife a few years ago so was very keen to read her latest release but approached it with some trepidation, wondering whether or not I'd enjoy it as much as AW.

Sisterland tells the story of identical twins Violet and Daisy Shramm who may share the same DNA but are worlds apart in terms of personality and outlook. It becomes obvious early in their lives that the twins possess a psychic `gift' and as they grow into adolescents and adults, Daisy (who now goes by her much more sensible and prosaic middle name, Kate) chooses to play down her talent in order to live a quiet life with her geology professor husband. Violet on the other hand embraces it with gusto and carves a moderately successful career for herself as a medium, finding fame and notoriety when she helps the police to locate a kidnapped child. The seemingly perfect family life Kate has built for herself starts to fracture when Violet predicts that their home town of St Louis will be devastated by an earthquake on 16 October 2009. The media goes wild and Violet is once again enjoying the limelight, but not everyone in her family is happy about it.

The story is narrated by Kate in chapters which alternate between the present day (with Violet's earthquake prediction) and flashbacks to their earlier lives. As with the character of Alice in American Wife, Sittenfeld has created a very believable main protagonist, whose actions are irritating at times and not always understandable, but overall I liked `flawed' Kate much more than the `perfect' version of herself which she chose to present to the world. Violet is also very well defined as a character, annoying and endearingly vulnerable in equal measure. The issue of the women's psychic abilities isn't dealt with in any real depth; for me the book was more of an examination of family relationships, the impact of rash decisions and the legacy of betrayal.

It's an observant, thoughtful novel which may not be fast-paced or action-packed enough for some readers, but overall I really enjoyed it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing story, 12 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
This book was just ok. The story was nice but it kept building up as if something was going to happen which it doesn't. The thing that does happen is totally ridiculous and predictable and left me feeling really disappointed. The author could have done so much more with the story as he developed some really interesting characters it is just a shame he didn't make it an interesting story.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 'origin' chapters are the best part, 20 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Sisterland (Kindle Edition)
After suffering through Sittenfeld's earlier book 'Prep', I was hesitant to move on to 'Sisterland', but I'd already paid for it.

The good news is that I read the whole thing in two days. The 'flashback' stories of ESP-imbued identical twins Daisy and Violet are perfect. Sittenfeld's writing is massively improved from the other book and the characters well drawn and engaging.

The 'present day' section, which weaves in and out of the 'golden days' flashes nicely, concerns the more uptight twin, who has all but shunned her senses and disapproves of the way her sister lives.

It's all well-written and page-turning enough, but things end a bit anti-climactically and the story kind of fizzles out like a damp firework. But it's still worth reading.
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