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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Read
I first heard about The Sisters Brothers when it recently made it onto the Man Booker Longlist - perversely enough, it was all the mutterings about it not being a suitable nominee plus some irresistible cover lust which made me even keener to read it.

Firstly, a word of warning...this is not a pretty novel, it's set back in the 1850s during the California Gold...
Published on 7 Aug. 2011 by Lovely Treez

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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fistful of Nothing?
It can be hard reading (and then reviewing) a highly acclaimed book, particularly if you find your own opinion of it contrary to everybody else's. I had wanted to read 'The Sisters Brothers' since before it was longlisted for the Booker prize; its subsequent acclaim had me anticipating something special. Whilst in no way a bad book, I found 'TSB' to be a pedestrian...
Published on 24 Feb. 2012 by Quicksilver


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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Read, 7 Aug. 2011
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers (Paperback)
I first heard about The Sisters Brothers when it recently made it onto the Man Booker Longlist - perversely enough, it was all the mutterings about it not being a suitable nominee plus some irresistible cover lust which made me even keener to read it.

Firstly, a word of warning...this is not a pretty novel, it's set back in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush when men were men and horses didn't have whisperers. There are scenes of cruelty, to both animals and humans, so best to move on if this would detract from your reading enjoyment.

It is 1851, the Californian Gold Rush is in full swing and our narrator, Eli Sisters, hired killer, is accompanying his older brother Charlie on an eventful journey from Oregon to Sacramento, to track down and kill one Hermann Kermit Warm. Their quest has an epic feel to it as they encounter a range of wild and wonderful characters en route, think Don Quixote meets the Coen and Blues Brothers with a dash of Cormac Mc Carthy thrown in for good measure. Yet, it doesn't seem derivative and ends up being a really fresh, original piece of work - defying categorisation.

Eli is a psychopath with a (slight) conscience and therein lies the conflict between the brothers. Even as he relates their latest killing in his usual deadpan tone, you know his heart is no longer in it and he longs for a different life, even suggesting opening a store - Charlie is not particularly open to the idea... Their story is compelling but unsettling, dark but humorous and so cinematic, you can just visualise their adventures rolling onto the big screen.

A very special novel which will entertain a wide range of readers including those biblio-butterflies who like a change of genre every now and then.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fistful of Nothing?, 24 Feb. 2012
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers (Paperback)
It can be hard reading (and then reviewing) a highly acclaimed book, particularly if you find your own opinion of it contrary to everybody else's. I had wanted to read 'The Sisters Brothers' since before it was longlisted for the Booker prize; its subsequent acclaim had me anticipating something special. Whilst in no way a bad book, I found 'TSB' to be a pedestrian tale. A tale well told, but one that failed to deliver on its promise.

The novel is narrated by Eli Sisters, one half of the notorious Sisters Brothers, murderous enforcers for an unseen crime baron called 'The Commodore'. Eli and Charlie are travelling to California, to track down Herman Warm. Warm has irritated their employer, and Eli and Charlie have been dispatched to ensure he doesn't do it again.

The period and setting are well constructed. deWitt conveys the openness of the wild west well, but what really stands out is the sense of lawlessness. Unlike most depictions of the Gold Rush era deWitt's contains no glamour; it is survival of the fittest. The strongest takes what it wants from the weak, and the weak die. The motto of almost everybody in the book is 'Get rich or die tryin'.

The novel's characters, particularly Eli, are well drawn. Charlie is a ruthless killer, Eli is on the surface a brute; violent and quick to anger, but he has another side. Eli is a dangerous man, but he is also a thinker, and he does not like what he has become. The novel explores his inner turmoil as he tries to transcend his circumstances and lead a better life. Although the style, settings and characters are entirely different, I found 'TSB' curiously reminiscent of 'Great Expectations'.

The story essentially follows Eli's pitiful attempts to change. Gauche and naive, each of his attempts to appear 'normal' end in acutely embarrassing failure. Whilst this was interesting to begin with, over the course of the novel it failed to sustain my attention. The idea that bad men are capable of good is hardly a new one, and Eli's tribulations don't really add much to the discussion.

The novel is a series of set pieces; situations in which Eli can fail in his attempts to straighten out. By the end to the novel it feels all too artificial. And that for me is the big problem - despite a well-drawn setting, the story never feels real. Everything, including the title,all feels contrived. They're brothers, but they're also sisters - girls, who are cowboys - clever heh? For some reason the more I read, the more the book's title annoyed me.

The novel has a moving and fitting epilogue, about which I won't say any more, lest I spoil it, but overall, I found the book's culmination absurd. Characters behave against type, and so I stopped caring what happened to them. Many, many other people have really enjoyed this book, but I am unable understand why. For me this was a novel filled with potential that was never realised; I'd hoped for gold but came away empty handed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, 25 April 2012
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This is the story of Charlie and Eli Sisters, hired heavyweights and assassins in the height of the 1850s Gold Rush they are as mean and rough as they come. The book begins when they are sent on a mission to kill one Hermann Kermit Warm who has offended their boss, the Commodore. As they journey in search of Warm our narrator, Eli Sisters, begins to dream of a different way of life. Tired of killing he wants to settle down with a nice girl, he has become conscious of his figure and wants to lose weight, he's discovered tooth cream and he is uncommonly fond of his slow and sickly horse. Charlie, on the other hand, is as ruthless as ever and is perfectly happy to carry on with the killings.

The overall theme is about Eli Sisters wanting to go straight. But first he needs to tie up his loose ends, which involves a few more killings before he can sleep easy in his bed. It is really a dark comedy, which addresses the irony of such bad men having a softer side to them. The brothers have lots of adventures on the way and meet a cast of quirky characters giving a light element in terms of humour, with the brothers bickering continually, combined with some ridiculously horrific scenes such as the removal of the horse's eye, some brutal killings and the painful effects of a chemical used to show up gold on riverbeds.

If you can handle dark humour then this is a very entertaining read, and you can't help liking the brothers despite their ruthlessness. The ending is quite sweet really and marks a turning point in their lives. I like that this was shortlisted for the Booker prize, I think it stands out as an unusual and deceptively complex read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sublime Moment, 26 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: The Sisters Brothers (Paperback)
I got the idea that it's fundamentally about the American Dream, greed in pursuit of fame and unimaginable wealth because they've been told that's the doorway to happiness and the gold fever of mid-19th century San Francisco has some obvious parallels with early 21st century stock marketeering... of course, they find something they weren't really expecting.

This is a really entertaining book, funny, macabre and has some really quite touching moments (the teeth brushing & Tub the horse stand out for me). The language of the time is beautifully and very skilfully employed and it says things both dark and also very uplifting about human beings. It's crying out for the Coen Bros. to make it into a film. Buy it, borrow it, read it in one sitting, you won't regret it.

And if Mr DeWitt can manage reproduce this brilliance over a number of books, I can imagine him being quite a notable 21st century author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, The Wife. And BBC2 "The Review Show", 13 May 2012
By 
S. Corbett "Om Shanti" (Essex) - See all my reviews
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Thanks to my Wife for watching The Review Show and advising me to go for this very affordable Kindle version of The Sisters Brothers. This book is a very good film waiting to happen. The whole book was a joy to read and it had it's in hooks in me from the start. Apart from being a great story I found the believability of the narrator, his thoughts and actions, his moods, his oberservations - to be so realistic, I felt as if I was an observor sat inside his brain. Any film version would need to go to great lengths to meet the visual visceral rendition in my mind's eye. Every time I had an opportunity to pick up my Kindle and read I would do so with an immediate gladdening of my heart, such was the certainty I was going back to a Western World where I would be totally engaged. I felt like I could have carried reading about the Sisters forever and am left wanting to hear their future. Utterly fab, gets an immediate "One of the best books I have ever read" accolade.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, readable book, 18 May 2012
By 
John Tierney (Wirral, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a wonderful book, even straight from the title (Eli and Charlie have the surname "Sisters" and are brothers). Eli is our narrator and he has an unusual, quirky voice. Set in 1851 Gold Rush West Coast America, the brothers are guns for hire and on a mission to travel from Oregon to San Francisco to assasinate someone who has offended their employer, the all-powerful Commodore, who - it seems- doesn't like Eli anyway.

We follow the brothers as they travel and meet people along the way and in towns. Charlie is fearless and brutal, whilst Eli seems more thoughtful and wants to change his life. His voice is clear and funny and the book is a real page turner. The brothers have multiple encounters along the way, some violent, until they reach San Francisco and must then track down the mysterious Hermann Kermit Warm. What they do to try and find him and the consequence of this lead to the denouement of the book, which I won't spoil.

This book is extremely well written, funny, intelligent, thought-provoking, philsophical and also what seemed to me to be a faithful recreation of the gold rush atmosphere. I felt as though the dialogue was authentic and there are nice turns of phrase. I could picture scene after scene and I think this reflects well on the author's skills.

If you are not sure about whether to buy this book, I urge you to do so as I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, brother!, 8 April 2012
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Let's start by stressing that I am not a Western fan and I came to this book with more than a little trepidation. The Wild West, gold rushes and spit-in-the dust saloons are typically so much hooey as far as I'm concerned.

I need not have worried: the writing is smooth and fluid, the characters - although a parade of grotesques - are engaging and held my interest throughout. The narrator - Eli, one of the two epnymous Sisters brothers - is sympathetic and horrific in equal measure. The events he recounts are equally evocative, laced with liberal amounts of black humour. In fact, I think it's true to say that I've never encountered humour that was blacker!

By its ending, the story put me in mind of Voltaire's "Candide", another book I love. And it is into the same category that I put "The Sisters Brothers" and it is on that basis that I've now purchased Ablutions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph!, 31 Dec. 2011
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I loved this book! To be honest, it was the only book from the Booker prize list that grabbed me this year, so I thought I'd give it a go.

It follows the two main characters of Eli and Charlie Sisters, a couple of 'guns for hire' who make their way across the American mid West with the aim of killing Herman Kermit Warm. They get themselves (or rather, find themselves) in various scrapes as they shoot, kill and get shot at along the way.

The best thing about this book is the way in which it's written. It's an easy read and it is very concise in its style. There are no page long descriptions of epic landscapes, but it's still full of descriptive text which leaves you in no doubt as to what's going on. There is an abundance of black comedy throughout, the chapters are short and sweet and its lack of over elaborate style is what makes it such a joy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent story, lifted by an interesting milieu and fun characters., 26 May 2012
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An amusing and well-written novel, The Sister Brothers tells the story of two murderous mercenaries during the Californian gold rush. Told from the POV of the less psychopathic, more contemplative brother, the story follows the two of them through a series of high japes as they chase down some prospectors with a secret formula for finding gold. All told, I enjoyed the book. Yes, the first half feels a touch 'rambling' - or maybe not rambling, but the events sometimes seem arbitrary, inconsequential - and there are a few plot glitches as we get towards the end, but I loved the Wild West milieu, and I loved all the manic prospectors, and the ending, without giving too much away, felt appropriate and satisfying. I've already recommended it once since finishing it, and have no hesitation in doing so again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent story, 12 Feb. 2012
The Sisters brothers is an excellent story; set during the gold rush in the USA. Two brothers are on their way to San Francisco; tasked with killing a man. While Charlie is more than at ease with his chosen profession, Eli is having second thoughts; he fancies himself settling down with a nice woman and perhaps opening a store.

This is a beautifully written story, it is violent, funny and sad. The reader feels a empathy for Eli; as he has been manipulated by his brother into this lifestyle he is not fit for and the adventure in San Francisco offers him a way out of his current life.

It is a great tale and I would definitely recommend reading. Very original storyline, with interesting characters.
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