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Sisterland: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400068312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068319
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (433 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2013: After tackling east coast prep school and the life of a first lady in previous works, writing about twin sisters with ESP might seem like a strange move for Curtis Sittenfeld. But Sisterland is not a book about what it means to live with psychic powers. Rather, it’s a deeply emotional study of two closely-linked siblings who share many similarities but ultimately choose different paths in life. Having grown up with a mild form of ESP—what they call “senses”—the twins are confronted with how to deal with their powers. One chooses to “go straight” and become a suburban housewife and mother, while the other sister drops out of college to become a medium. The ESP part is not overplayed, and the story bears all the hallmarks of Sittenfeld’s other novels: an exploration of adolescence and the choices that people make, expertly drawn inner monologues, an artist’s complete grasp of the little moments in life. This is a unique—and at times pitch perfect—take on family, loyalty, and how people deal with the vapor trails left by childhood. -- Chris Schluep

From Booklist

Twin sisters Kate Tucker and Violet Schramm are at the heart of Sittenfeld’s (American Wife, 2008) latest novel, which opens with a modest earthquake striking St. Louis. In the aftermath, Violet goes on television predicting that a much larger quake will hit the area, much to her sister’s horror. Kate has spent her life trying to shove aside the psychic abilities she and her sister share, choosing the safe confines of marriage and motherhood over nurturing her gifts the way Violet has. Violet’s prediction becomes national news, thrusting her into the spotlight and causing a mild panic in St. Louis. Kate finds herself under intense scrutiny as well, from acquaintances and even friends, including her husband’s colleague Courtney, a scientist who finds Violet’s prediction absurd. Sittenfeld alternates between the present and the past, revealing the Schramm sisters’ fraught childhood and complex relationship. A late-in-the-game twist makes the final pages fly, but the real strength of this moving story is Sittenfeld’s nuanced examination of the strength of familial bonds, whether they are between sisters or spouses. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A concerted promotional campaign will support the newest daring novel by best-selling Sittenfeld, while the film version of her big hit, American Wife, is in development. --Kristine Huntley

More About the Author

Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of American Wife, The Man of My Dreams and Prep. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times,The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Allure, Glamour, and on public radio's This American Life. Her books have been translated into twenty-five languages. Visit her website at www.curtissittenfeld.com.

Customer Reviews

I ended up reading the whole thing, even though I wanted to stop several times.
G. Lake
I really don't know what I expected, but the ending of this book left me so disappointed, I am sorry I wasted my money on this book.
Honeybee 63
The characters were flat and unlikable and the whole books premise was just not interesting.
Jaimi Ruben

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 111 people found the following review helpful By kacunnin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Curtis Sittenfeld's SISTERLAND is ostensibly the story of twin sisters born with precognition. Violet and Daisy grew up understanding that they had "senses," meaning the ability to foresee future events. As an adult, Violet (or Vi) embraces those senses, and makes them part of her everyday life - she aids the police in a kidnapping case and does readings for paying clients. Daisy (who changes her name to Kate during college) rejects her senses, and makes every effort to become a normal housewife raising two young children. When Vi senses that their hometown of St. Louis will suffer a massive earthquake on October 16, both her life and Kate's are thrown into chaos. Suddenly, a world-wide TV audience is obsessed with Vi, and Kate has an increasingly difficult time trying to seem normal.

But while the sisters' precognitive abilities form the backdrop of this story, SISTERLAND really has little to do with precognition. Do Vi and Kate really possess extra-sensory powers? Sittenfeld isn't particularly concerned with this. Kate's scientist husband, Jeremy, never really believes any of it - he sees Vi as a humorous eccentric and Kate as an over-protective mom who caters to her freaky sister out of a sense of twin loyalty. Similarly, Kate and Jeremy's best friends - geophysicist Courtney and her stay-at-home husband, Hank - don't put much credence in anything Vi has to say. But everyone gets along well enough, in spite of it. As October 16 approaches, some in St. Louis make plans to leave town, others have "Earthquake Parties," and Vi plans to milk her fifteen minutes of fame for all it's worth. But Kate, Jeremy, and their friends try to go on doing what they always do.
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122 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Spindrift VINE VOICE on May 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a reader. It is what I do. I become enamored with, and follow the careers of authors the way others follow movie stars and sports figures. It is my version of being "starstruck". I once attended an event that featured the fascinating, Janet Fitch, author of the critical and commercial success, "White Oleander", and she confided to the audience that even after her phenomenal, successful debut effort, the critical and commercial hit, "White Oleander", her second book had been rejected by her publisher. I was astounded. How could a publisher reject anything written by Janet Fitch? She was honest with her fans that day, telling us that it was just not any good. She hadn't been asked to adjust it, or merely "tweek" it. She had to trash it and start over again. Eventually, Janet published the magnificent "Paint it Black" and everything was fine. But it does bring to mind the fact that perhaps some writers don't have more than one, or at the most two, good books in them. Everyone is familiar with Harper Lee's story. So I guess I should not have been so disappointed, at being so disappointed, in Curtis Sittenfeld's latest offering, "Sisterland". She has previously produced two stellar books. "American Wife" was on my top three of the year list a few years ago...it was fabulous. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of "Sisterland".

In my current state of being perplexed over this book, I want to avoid calling it a "hot mess". But I can't. Sittenfeld has mixed so many themes here and produced so many conflicting and ambiguous points of view (not to mention mind numbingly preposterous events occurring-- following one of Violet's "visions" the "Today Show" calls...pleease...) that I just have to think that she threw this one together like a last minute pot of soup.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By G. Lake on August 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I read this book because it looked promising. I enjoy stories about sisters, and twins, and psychics. I ended up reading the whole thing, even though I wanted to stop several times. The story started out well, but became tedious. It was very well-written, so I kept expecting the plot to pick up and get me hooked. This could have been a good book, but overall I think it was nonsensical and slightly boring. Especially toward the end- the main character acted like a whole other person and made me want to slap her silly. This book ended up reeking of oppression and repression, self-pity, and meekness. I now regard it as a waste of my time, because although I gave the story a determined chance, it did not live up to its potential.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Coyle on July 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The "Sisterland" of the title was never developed between these two strange characters. One sister was absurdly neurotic-- not in a funny Woody Allen kind of way--just annoyingly so. The other was simply obnoxious, and the bond we were expected to look for was never developed. The long-suffering husband was too good to be true, and the premise of the entire book (spoiler alert) was based on waiting for something that never happened. The whole story lacked cohesion and contained a great deal of filler, so much so that I ended up skimming pages to get past meaningless details. I could not recommend this book to any reasonably discerning reader, and I have to agree with one reviewer who said, "I wish I had my time back."
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29 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara VINE VOICE on May 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've read Prep and American Wife, and loved them both, but Sisterland is far better than either of them, and that's not putting them down. Sisterhood is just a fantastic novel.

A brief plot sum-up---Kate and her twin Violet both have what their family calls "senses", and what is usually called psychic abilities. Violet predicts that an earthquake will hit Saint Louis, where they live, on a certain date. As the sisters wait to see if that prediction plays out, their lives are impacted in many ways by the fame and by the worries that the prediction brought about. But there's far more here than that. We learn about Kate's whole life, and about especially her marriage to Jeremy, and her children, and how one fateful decision she makes creates huge consequences. It's to Sittenfed's credit that she can make huge events and what you would think would be fairly improbable plot elements seem natural. She writes in a unique way I love. There are many details, and the tone is even, which allows me to completely jump into her world. I felt upset when the book was over in a way I haven't felt for years. I wanted to still know Kate and her family. I wanted to hear what happened next, not in the way you want a sequel to a good book, but in the way you feel about friends you've lost touch with.

As a side note---I also loved the portrayal of what it's really like to have a baby you are nursing. I haven't found that in a lot of books, and it's so much woven into the plot here that it took me a little while to appreciate how well done it was.

If you are interested in any number of topics---earthquakes, twins, ESP (although don't be turned off by this---this book in no way has a "new age" feel), marriage, babies, toddlers..and many more, or if you just like a novel you can really lose yourself in, this is a must read.
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