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The Story Sisters: A Novel Hardcover – June 2, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307393860
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307393869
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lyrical but atypically monotonous, bestseller Hoffman's (The Third Angel) latest follows the dark family saga of Elv, Megan and Claire Story, sisters plagued by uncommon sadness. As a child, Elv spun fairy tales of a magical world for her sisters, but a period of savage sexual abuse—information about which slowly leaks out—sends her spiraling into years of drug addiction and painful self-abuse. Elv's story is unrelentingly grim, and without Hoffman's characteristic magic realism, its simple downward spiral becomes exhausting. Tragedy after tragedy befalls the family—Elv's commitment to a juvenile rehab facility, a deadly accident, a fatal illness and betrayal after betrayal. When the last third of the book turns to focus on Claire, who has been so damaged by the family crises that she refuses to speak, the slight glimmers of hope and goodness are too little, too late. Hoffman's prose is as lovely as ever: the imagined and real worlds of the Story sisters are rich and clear, but Elv's troubles and the Story family's nonstop catastrophes are wearying. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics were generally pleased with Hoffman's latest novel, and fans will be happy that it follows the pattern of her much-loved earlier work with its vibrant characters and magical-realist elements. Though a few reviewers questioned some of her character choices and their actions, such as Elv's mother's strange passivity during the growing crisis, the Kansas City Star deemed it normal for parents to be "frozen in the face of rampant rule-breaking." Other complaints consisted of a slow plot and some melodramatic scenes, but only the Boston Globe denounced the book as completely unoriginal while still praising Hoffman's lovely prose. A moving exploration of the strengths and limitations of family bonds, The Story Sisters is quintessential, if somewhat darker, Hoffman.

More About the Author

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Hoffman's first novel, Property Of, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become Property Of, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff's magazine, American Review.

Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published a total of eighteen novels, two books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte's masterpiece Wuthering Heights. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Her novel, At Risk, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Her advance from Local Girls, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman (Women's Cancer) Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. Blackbird House is a book of stories centering around an old farm on Cape Cod. Hoffman's recent books include Aquamarine and Indigo, novels for pre-teens, and The New York Times bestsellers The River King, Blue Diary, The Probable Future, and The Ice Queen. Green Angel, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about loss and love, was published by Scholastic and The Foretelling, a book about an Amazon girl in the Bronze Age, was published by Little Brown. In 2007 Little Brown published the teen novel Incantation, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year. In January 2007, Skylight Confessions, a novel about one family's secret history, was released on the 30th anniversary of the publication of Her first novel. Her most recent novel is The Story Sisters (2009), published by Shaye Areheart Books.

Hoffman's work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay "Independence Day" a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Wiest. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel Aquamarine was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.

Customer Reviews

Her books are "can't be put down till finished"........Wonderful stories.
sandnella
The characters lacked depth and I had no empathy or sympathy for any of them.
Clare49
The writing is so beautiful, lush, and magical, with such powerful imagery.
BeachReader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 63 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A title like "The Story Sisters" could be any kind of book -- and in the case of Alice Hoffman's writing, it means that the girls are "story" by name and by nature. While the story focuses too much on one troubled sister and has a rather rushed ending, it's still a mistily moving experience, and a look at what love can bring people.

Ever since their parents' divorce, the three Story sisters -- Elv, Meg and Claire -- have been wrapped up in a fairy-tale world of fairies, roses and otherworldly queens.

And the girls are inseparable, speaking their Arnish language and listening to Elv's magical stories. But when Elv spends time in Paris, she comes back a changed girl -- she is increasingly drawn into a world of teenage rebellion, sex and drugs, even as she still tries to break free of the mortal world. And her increasingly ugly behavior fractures her relationship with her sisters -- even a trip to a rehab/high-school doesn't help.

Then Elv's wild ways result in a devastating tragedy that tears her family apart, and drives her into the arms of a loving, charming conman. In the years that follow, the girls' mother Annie is confronted by both love and illness, and a devastated Claire immerses herself in a jewelry store in Paris, living with her grandmother. Elv's life continues on a downward spiral, until a new development brings the broken family back together.

Leaves and roses, ice and water, black tattoos and blood, tomatoes and jewels, and three black-haired daughters who gradually learn that life is only a fairy tale if you keep it that way, and that imagination alone cannot make a life beautiful.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on June 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
After reading a fantastic book last week, I found it hard to believe that I was lucky enough to find another great one. I always anxiously await Alice Hoffman's books and this one was well worth the wait.

In "The Story Sister"s, the author is back to her old form: less strangeness and more storytelling, similar to the stories and their complex characters that she presented in "Turtle Moon" and "Seventh Heaven". The writing is so beautiful, lush, and magical, with such powerful imagery. It took me about 40 pages to just give myself over to the story and not try to figure out the fantasy life (Arnelle) that the three sisters wove. After that, I was totally captivated and could not put the book down. This story of the redemptive power of love and family bonds was just wonderful.

Highly recommended!!!!
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Alyson Stone on June 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Alice Hoffman writes beautiful descriptive prose. Unfortunately, that's just not enough to make up for the predictable plot of "The Story Sisters." Unrelentingly dark and melodramatic to the point of parody, I found myself looking at the cover to make sure I was actually reading a book by an author whose writing skills I have great respect for. Of the many characters who take up space in this novel, there are only three who act as if they have any brains at all; Grandmother Natalia, her friend Madame Cohen, and a poor fellow named Pete Smith who makes an appearance towards the end to try and clean up a plot line that has veered into romance novel territory. The Story parents, and the Sisters of the title are so unlikeable I found myself saying "Are you kidding me?" out loud at several junctures in the book. Three stars out of loyalty to the writer, but that's generous for such a disappointing book.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm really disappointed in Hoffman's newest novel. I love the way she uses language, and her ideas are inventive, but I really found it hard to feel a lot of sympathy for Elv. I also felt as if I were being manipulated into feel sympathy for her, although it was not successful. I had a lot of trouble buying her redemption, because she constantly showed such disregard and disrespect for anyone who didn't fit into her world that she came across as having a borderline personality disorder.

I'm also losing patience with novels where all the messy details of life are taken care of for the characters through fortune or wealth or lucky happenstance. Events worked out for most of the characters one way or another, although a few end up dying.

I think that what bothers me is that some of the structural flaws are overlooked because Hoffman is such an established author. Would a beginning author be cut as much slack?

I so wanted to love this book, but it just didn't work for me.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jessie on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this novel, and I was not disappointed. Ms Hoffman has such a magical way of telling a tale and making things that many might take for granted or consider rather ordinary, fiercely compelling. The secrets that sisters share; terrible and wonderful, petty differences, steel-enforced alliances, and the heartbreaking moments that might have unfolded differently if only... I was up until after midnight, unable to stop reading, not wanting the spell to be broken. The best gift of all? I know I'll be re-reading this novel again, and will still love every moment. That's the wonderful thing about Ms Hoffman's novels, in my opinion.
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