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The Pretty One: A Novel about Sisters Hardcover – February 5, 2013

83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Complicated yet close relationships between sisters are a familiar trope in literature. In Rosenfeld’s contemporary spin, the Hellinger sisters are wildly different in manner but alike in their propensity for meddling in each other’s lives. Oldest sister Perri, a perfectionist working mom with a successful husband and suburban manse, stuns all when she runs away for the weekend with an old college boyfriend. Meanwhile, back home, Perri’s husband, Mike, makes a pass at her beautiful middle sister, Olympia, a single mom whose dating and professional lives are floundering. Youngest sister Gus, a lesbian social-activist lawyer, is going through an identity crisis of her own when a bad breakup has her considering a fling with Mike’s brother Jeff. Although the novel’s twists and turns are entertaining, it’s the sisters’ realistic swings from jealousy to unity that make it compelling. Once again, the author of I’m So Happy for You (2009) portrays women with insight. --Aleksandra Walker


"Rosenfeld does do a stellar job of developing each personality, and the characters remain true to their nature throughout."―Publishers Weekly

"Although the novel's twists and turns are entertaining, it's the sisters' realistic swings from jealousy to unity that make it compelling.Once again, the author of I'm So Happy for You portrays women with insight."―Booklist

"A witty character study of that contentious organism: sisterhood."―Kirkus Reviews

"Lucinda Rosenfeld perfectly captures the intricacies of sisterhood in this hilarious and perceptive tale of one family's quest to 'get along'. . . I absolutely loved this novel!"―Emily Giffin, author of Something Borrowed and Where We Belong

"Although accomplished adults, the Hellinger sisters remain quick to judge each other and sometimes grapple with jealousy and resentment. Their relationships are tested when their mother winds up in the hospital, but Rosenfeld shows, with humor and charm, that these familial bonds are strong enough to withstand even the most trying circumstances."―Samantha Samel, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

"In this impish new novel from the author of I'm So Happy For You, three sisters who have grown up cranky and competitive are itching to shed the stereotypes they've always represented to one another and their parents.... By the time everything's resolved, you'll have come to love them in all their hilarious imperfection." 4-stars, People Pick―Helen Rogan, People

"Appealingly dark...."―Emily Cooke, The New York Times Book Review

"With a light touch, Rosenfeld portrays the 'conspiratorial, even magical' relationship among sisters that makes failure to communicate all the more painful."―The New Yorker

"Funny, biting, and unsentimental..."―Judith Greenberg, Ph.D., Huffington Post

See all Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316213551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316213554
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By K. Sowa on February 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There is always plenty of material to be had when you are writing about the complicated relationships that siblings can have. All three of the Hellinger sisters have had achievements in various forms in their lives and while they see each other frequently, they don't seem to really like each other very much. We are introduced to Pia first, whose story seems to be the most prominent for most of the book. Her trip to a New Year's brunch gives the reader a small background into her life and into her relationship with her two other sisters. Although a lot is made of their labels (the pretty one, the political one and the perfect one) and how their mother was guilty of thrusting these roles upon them, I never felt like that idea was fully developed in the writing. Each seems to be trapped in their own hellish existences as they approach middle age and face individual crises while side-eying each other and feeling competitive.

It's not that I don't appreciate the reality of what the sisters faced in their lives. I actually thought that the author did a good job of getting into their respective heads and showing us their inner turmoil. However, it was a barrage of negativity without any way to create empathy. The sisters seemed to have no redeeming qualities and, quite frankly, I found them all to be unpleasant. I didn't care what happened to them because they were so unlikable to me. The structure of the story was a bit choppy and there was a storyline that was introduced and dropped, which seemed really odd to me. It was almost as if it was too much to keep up with all three sisters, so we didn't get a complete picture of any of them. Although I was intrigued by the idea and the synopsis, this ended up being a book that didn't speak to me.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Branfield TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Lucinda Rosenfeld's The Pretty One is a fascinating novel about the sometimes complicated relationship between adult sisters.

The Pretty One raises some very interesting questions about family relationships and how family expectations and labels come into play throughout adulthood. Perri, Pia and Gus are now in their mid to late thirties and they seem stuck in the roles assigned to them as children. Oldest sister Perri is The Responsible One, middle sister Pia is The Pretty One and youngest sister Gus is The Rebellious One. The sisters' relationship is complicated by their petty jealousies and insecurities that each of the women feels toward their sisters. They are a close knit family, but they continually undermine one another with gossip and their envy of each others' lives.

The Pretty One is a difficult book to review. On the one hand, I found it to be mired in negativity since each of the sisters is going through their own individual crises. They are unhappy with their lives and they are extremely hypercritical of one another. No one was satisfied with what they had in their lives and all they could focus on was the negative.

But the further the novel progressed, the more reflective and self-aware each of the girls becomes. They still place way too much emphasis on their "assigned" childhood labels, but they do begin to realize that perhaps there is more to them than their perceived roles.

What saved The Pretty One for me was the fact that the sisters do finally begin to change and Lucinda Rosenfeld manages to pull off a happily ever after ending. It is an interesting and easy to read novel that is realistic and depicts the good, the bad and the ugly of family relationships.

I received a complimentary copy for review.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mark jabbour on February 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel took me by surprise. I was unprepared for what it was-- an awkwardly comedic, and awkwardly written, story about white, professional, mid-aged, middle class sisters living in suburban New York in the year 2009. If it were in another format there would be a name for it: Romantic Comedy (movie) or Situation Comedy (TV series). In literature there is: Chick Lit and Woman's fiction (two among many categories that inform a reader what they are about to delve into.) Maybe this could be called: Bitch Lit, for middle-aged ____ bitching. The middle sister is "The Pretty One," the older sister the married with children perfectionist one, and the younger the confused, rebel one--a lesbian. It took me a while to realize what it was I was reading, and more to the point--what was the point? Which is part of the author's style--to ask lots of questions without answers (which is the point. I think.) The author does this via the main characters, the three sisters, but their thoughts' and the narrator's are blurred, and I often didn't know who was doing the questioning. In addition, Rosenfeld often uses parenthetical asides, seemingly at random. (Who is talking to whom? To me?) And this: If a distance continues to increase - is it getting farther or further away? (I'm asking you, reader.) Where was the editor? And/or, was this intentional--making the overall point that life is complicated?

A few words about the characters. I didn't like any of them - the sisters, their parents, their significant others, the children. (There were no pets.) Life was complicated, but none of these characters were--they were all pretty stereotypically shallow, in a non-funny, non-attractive way ... which is kind of funny, once I got used to it, but boring.
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