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

4.2 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews

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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)
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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.
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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: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA 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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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up following a long history I have of buying a book I'm unfamiliar with for a flight. I liked the summary of the story sisters and thought that I was in for a page turner of magic and whimsy.

I could not have been more wrong....

The book started out great with the three sisters each distinctive and fascinating in their own right. After the accident (one of many as it turns out), it all went down hill. The story featured one tragedy after another. Horse/car accidents, drug addiction, divorce, overdoses, cancer, sexual molestation. I found myself exclaiming "Come on!!" on more than one occasion. Then just to pick your spirits up once in a while, the author would talk about tomatoes. Towards the end of the book when the ancient wise ones in Paris started catching "demon" moths, I knew I'd found the kindling for my next fire.

The story didn't know which direction it wanted to go in...a mystery, tragedy, fantasy. It was all over the place. I think Hoffman had successfully confused herself by the end. There's even an example on one page where she says a character (Phillip, I think) is a deep sleeper and then says he's a restless sleeper. That's talent. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone usless they needed a serious downer. I don't think I'll be reading any more Hoffman.
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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Gee, this book was pretty much a downer wrapped in a romantic tragedy. I kept waiting for a shred of happiness for these sisters, but when those few moments arose, they were buried in some horribly lengthy detail of the sunlight changing color in Paris or someone lonely in the attic bedroom. Just not my cup of tea. Hoffman is certainly a beautiful writer, so I will give it 3 stars. I don't think I can bring myself to read another one!
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