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on 12 November 2014
I loved Prep and thought it was very authentic and beautifully written. Sisterland is awful, unfortunately. The book is like clickbait - promises much and then delivers nothing but disappointment. There are glimpses of a great writer, mostly narrative, but these are fleeting, mired in horrible characterisation, cringe-worthy dialogue and an insanely dull plot. Sisterland reads like a Mumsnet blog, its linear and abjectly mundane and trivial timeline chronologically-juggled as if that provides meaning or variety, which it does not. Sittenfeld provides us with dull protagonists from corporate stock photos, and then places them in entirely ordinary contexts, all the while promising a whirlwind of drama that fails to materialise. The ending is so mind-numbingly dull and vapid it made me regret having read any of the book at all. Very disappointing.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 September 2014
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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on 19 June 2014
This is a well written book with an interesting premise that drew me in. However, as other reviewers point out, the book tends to go into the detail of the narrators life a little too much. It does accurately describe her position as a stay at home mum and makes you really empathise with her day-to-day life, but it continues to provide details which are totally irrelevant to the plot or even the theme. After a while you wonder if there's going to be some significance to the number of times she breast-feeds her son / changes a nappy / goes to Target etc., but there isn't!
I personally felt that the ending was strange. It was the most dramatic plot event in the book, but to me there was no resolution to the story, in fact things ended up more complex than they started (certainly in some ways). It didn't feel as if that was deliberate on the authors part, either, but I could be wrong! I finished the book feeling disappointed in the actions of the main character (not that she made mistakes but that she hid them).
Despite all that, as I was reading it I did feel very drawn into the world that Sittenfeld creates and will probably try another of her books.
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on 29 April 2017
On time, as expected, no hassles, Happy
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on 18 July 2017
I love Curtis Sittenfield. I really did like the book but was quite shocked at the end and actually made me quite sad. You can't fault her for writing an excellent story though
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on 10 August 2015
Loved it!
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on 2 August 2014
Dull. The 'twist' ia weak
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on 28 April 2014
I persevered to chapter five and gave up..the book is clearly padded out with endless irrelevant details and observations, all in all I found it irritating and boring.
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on 19 February 2014
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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on 9 January 2015
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