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78 of 82 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

versus
25 of 28 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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78 of 82 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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4 of 4 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
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not laugh out loud, but..., 8 Mar 2012
I was sold on this book being a dark comedy and although it is a wonderfully entertaining read (no doubt about that), the comedy aspect did not have me laughing out loud like the fabulous dark comedies of Tom Sharpe's Wilt or Tony Royden's The Dealer. So if it's belly laughs you are after, maybe best you look elsewhere.

The Sisters Brothers is written in such a way that every chapter is a tale within itself and so I found the book was easily put-downable (suitable to my lifestyle), but each chapter was enjoyable and was all relevant to the overall story. I really liked the that it was set in the in the background of the wild west (something new to the books I have been reading). Charlie and Eli Sisters are likeable rogues and I enjoyed narrative between them. I agree with other reviewers that The Sisters Brothers does have a Coen Brothers film feel to it.

If you like the occasional western with a deadpan since of humour, then this book is well worth considering.
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25 of 28 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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3 of 3 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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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saddle up for a great read, 19 Aug 2011
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers (Paperback)
Invariably, the Booker Prize longlist contains one book that is more on the side of light reading than the more worthy and overtly literary fare that it is usually associated with. `The Sisters Brothers' is the 2011 choice. Set in the US in 1851, it details the adventures of two brothers, Eli and Charlie Sisters, who are hired hands for a mysterious boss known only as the Commodore. Narrated by Eli, who has slightly more of a conscience than his older brother, the story starts with the Commodore ordering a hit, for reasons unknown, on a certain Hermann Kermit Warm.

The boys set out from their Oregon City base to Warm's known location in gold rush fever, San Francisco, but these two attract disaster, despite their feared reputation as gunslingers in the Wild West. There's plenty of comedy both of the more farcical, slapstick variety but particularly in the constant bickering between the more thoughtful Eli and his focussed older brother. It's hard not to like Eli, even though for all his seeming moral questioning of their way of life and attempts to treat people a little better, in the end he usually ends up reverting to his more psychopathic character traits.

The style of the book is that of short chapters and so, particularly as the boys head West, the pace of the story gallops along rather faster than Eli's rather tired horse, Tub. It's a book that will have you wanting to read `just one more short chapter' before you put it down for the night. They encounter a breathtaking array of colourful characters on the way, and everyone is on the make in one way, shape or form.

Talking of the trusty Tub, there is one note of caution for animal lovers, and particularly the more equine-loving readers, it is only fair to note that there are some potentially upsetting horse-related events later in the book which may cause the more sensitive reader some distress. So just be warned. There's also a fair bit of human suffering too, but these were hard times and if you are going to read a book set in that time, you can expect a certain amount of that.

However, these were tough times, and this is nowhere more apparent than when the boys eventually end up in San Francisco. The shock of this urban sprawl to two boys more used to the plains is nicely drawn out. It is at this point that the story starts to develop a darker element which seems to jar with the earlier jaunty adventures. It does, though allow the reader to get to see more of the love and devotion of Eli towards his brother. Perhaps the story rather peters out somewhat towards the end, like a horse at the end of a long ride, but it's a hugely enjoyable read. There's dark humour and genuine sadness in places as well in the lives of these two unlikely heroes.

It's hard not to like a book about two brothers with the name of Sisters. Thankfully, the book more than lives up to its excellent title.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great marketing..., 2 Mar 2013
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This author is a superb marketing man because I bought it on the cover and the tube trailer...but it just wasn't for me. Perhaps that's the problem. I'm probably not the target.

It starts off well - two brothers and two horses ( yes, there's a horse story and we like the horse- so it helps) with a mystery boss that they cross California for.

At first it is engaging and unusual and the detail of the era, especially in Frisco is captivating...and then, suddenly, it just gets dull.

I lost why they were travelling. I lost sympathy with the protagonist - actually all I wanted was the horse and that's worrying.

So, it is an unusual book and it clearly has fans - but as for the story and the character...not sure what it was or why I cared.

Not an author I'll buy again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, 4 April 2012
By 
nyonya (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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Charlie and Eli Sisters are a pair of ruthless killers in 19th century America during the Gold Rush. Their latest assignment is to dispatch a man in California, who has allegedly stolen something from their employer. Eli is the narrator of their journey, which turns out to be less straightforward than anticipated. He has a touchingly kind heart when he is not doing his day job as a killer, as well as a surprisingly educated turn of phrase. (I could almost see myself falling for him if he weren't so fat and unwashed).

Some reviewers have compared this book to Cormac McCarthy's work; I would strongly dispute this despite the dark humour, since McCarthy has a much denser prose style. However, one could be forgiven for suspecting that Patrick deWitt is really a pseudonym for the Coen Brothers ;)

This was the funniest novel I had read in years, and I would thoroughly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good short read, 27 Feb 2012
By 
Mrs. J. B. Schofield "JuneS" (Grimsby) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers (Paperback)
This definitely wouldnt be my kind of book normally as Ive never been keen on western stories. However it had so many good reviews on the tv book club that I decided to try it.
I liked the short concise chapters and the dark humour. It is a very easy read and you cant help but empathise with Eli the narrator of the story.
I did enjoy it very much but thought that the ending was a real disappointment. Its like the author just got fed up and couldnt think how to end the story so he just let it fizzle out. Its a shame because the rest of the story was very enjoyable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This should have won the Booker Prize, 6 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Sisters Brothers (Paperback)
Admittedly I have not yet read all the books on the short list (am still forcing myself to finish The Sense of an Ending) but this one is a joy. Page turning, sympathetic, cruel, funny, ironic, enlightening.........what more do you want from a novel. Loved it and would highly recommend it.
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The Sisters Brothers
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)
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