The Sister

( 154 )

Overview

Born into a long line of distinguished lepidopterists, scientists who study moths and butterflies, Ginny and Vivien grew up in a sprawling Victorian home. Forty-seven years later, Ginny lives there alone, tending to her moths and obsessions amid the ghosts of her past.

But when her sister Vivien returns to the crumbling family mansion, dark, unspoken secrets rise, disrupting Ginny's ordered life and threatening the family's fragile peace. Told in Ginny's unforgettable voice, ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$12.65
BN.com price
(Save 15%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (38) from $1.99   
  • New (11) from $3.79   
  • Used (27) from $1.99   
Sister

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

Born into a long line of distinguished lepidopterists, scientists who study moths and butterflies, Ginny and Vivien grew up in a sprawling Victorian home. Forty-seven years later, Ginny lives there alone, tending to her moths and obsessions amid the ghosts of her past.

But when her sister Vivien returns to the crumbling family mansion, dark, unspoken secrets rise, disrupting Ginny's ordered life and threatening the family's fragile peace. Told in Ginny's unforgettable voice, this debut novel tells a disquieting story of two sisters and the ties that bind-sometimes a little too tightly.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Dennis Drabelle
Adams, who has made documentary films for the Discovery Channel, writes sparkling prose and expertly weaves into the action what seems an inexhaustible knowledge of moths…With its stylish prose, taut plotting and dark psychology, The Sister is reminiscent of the best books by Ruth Rendell's alter ego, Barbara Vine. And it comes with a bonus: that storehouse of information about moths. After reading this remarkably assured first novel, you may find yourself looking at those poor cousins to butterflies with a new sense of respect and fear.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

This debut novel from Adams, a former documentary filmmaker, is an interesting and chilling account of two estranged sisters who recount, with varying detail, the memories of their past. Juliet Mills seems the perfect casting choice for narrator, as her rich English accent seems to saturate the words, making every one as important as the last. Mills's characters are honest and resentful, and listeners will be hard pressed not to see them as sisters in the real world. With an air for the theatrical, Mills is simply too strong a performer to ever let her audience sit back and take a break. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 17). (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Ginny's beloved sister, Vivien, whom she hasn't seen for nearly 50 years, is finally coming home, and she's eager to tell Vivi about all the great successes in her life. Never mind that Ginny camps out in a few rooms of her gigantic, crumbling Victorian mansion, obsessively checks the time, and never talks to anyone. We watch Ginny's narrow world slowly unravel over the course of a few days as she remembers what drove Vivi away in the first place. Documentary filmmaker Adams's choice of a first-person narrative here is nothing short of brilliant because it forces the reader to see everything from Ginny's warped perspective (e.g., she freely admits to having a bad case of rheumatoid arthritis but has no idea that she is profoundly mentally ill). And Adams's lavishly gruesome descriptions of Ginny's scientific experiments on moths are enough to turn anyone off lepidopterology entirely! This chilling and disturbing novel is strongly recommended for all but the smallest public library. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/1/08.]
—Laurel Bliss

Kirkus Reviews
The British documentary filmmaker's first novel is an engrossing psychodrama that spans the unsettling week during which estranged siblings reunite in a crumbling English country mansion. The Stones have inhabited Bulburrow Court-a Victorian pile in Dorset, complete with turrets and bell tower-for four generations, but now only elderly Virginia (Ginny), known locally as the Moth Woman, lives there, surrounded by ruin and decay. As a girl, Ginny shared her father Clive's obsession with lepidoptery; she considers herself well known in the field and still engaged in research. Younger, livelier Vivien (Vivi) escaped from the claustrophobic atmosphere, taking a secretarial course in London and a husband, Arthur. Ginny is unworldly, doesn't like strangers and once considered herself the keeper of family secrets: her mother Maud's violent alcoholism and her infertile sister's request for her to bear a child, leading to a surprisingly tender series of sexual encounters between Ginny and Arthur. But is Ginny merely dispassionate and introverted, or more seriously deluded? What does Vivi want, returning to the mansion after nearly 50 years, and is her claim that Clive murdered Maud all those years ago the truth? In this deceptively low-key effort, Adams does a skillful job of teasing the reader's comprehension and sympathies, especially for narrator Ginny, whose inner landscape ranges from the logical and meticulous, to the pathetic, to the deeply disturbed. Skewed perspectives can seem more farcical than chilling, but Adams keeps control in this dark, gothic debut. Agent: Judith Murray/Greene & Heaton. First printing of 100,000
From the Publisher
"Ms. Adams has a lot to offer: a plain but compelling prose style, a wealth of incident and a deft psychological acuity." –Martin Rubin, The Wall Street Journal

"With it's stylish prose, taut plotting and dark psychology, The Sister is reminiscent of the best books by Ruth Rendell's alter-ego, Barbara Vine...[Poppy Adams] writes sparkling prose and expertly weaves into the action what seems an inexhaustible knowledge of moths." –Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post Book World

"Dark and sinister, The Sister draws you in like a moth to a flame...A wholly satisfying character study with heart throbbing twists that will leave you shuddering." –Chris Stuckenschneider, The Missourian

"Suspenseful...Adams creates an engrossing atmosphere of gothic mystery." –The New Yorker

"Captivating...The odd characters who make up The Sister are extraordinary, each one more unsettling than the next, and their fractured group portrait is deliciously chilling." –Susan Miron, The Miami Herald

"The Sister is an ideal book for discussion groups, because it prompts analysis with a surprise ending that is both stunning and ambiguous." –Mandy Twaddell, The Providence Journal

"The Sister is powered by the same sort of confidently rendered literary suspense that propelled Donna Tartt's The Secret History onto best-seller lists...Ms. Adams makes Ginny such an intriguingly unreliable narrator that the reader is continually kept off balance." –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Adams spins a suspenseful, provocative, deliberately ambiguous tale about decay and disrepair–of people and the bonds between them–and about the harm that comes from even well-intended secrecy and silence." –Laura Collins-Hughes, New York Sun

"The great beauty of this splendid first novel lies in Ginny's voice, perfectly clear, controlled and calm...A brilliant narrative performance." –Barbara Fisher, The Boston Globe

“Readers will be haunted by this chilling psychological drama.” –Sue Corbett, People Magazine

"Deliciously creepy...[The Sister] reminds us of A.S. Byatt, Kate Atkinson and Stephen King having a house party." –Colette Bancroft, The Detroit News

"A genuinely eerie thriller...a chilling contemporary gothic." –Margaret Flanagan, Booklist

"A chilling and disturbing novel." –Laurel Bliss, Library Journal, starred review

"Chilling...an eerie and accomplished debut." –Publishers Weekly

"Engrossing." –Kirkus Reviews

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane comes to Devon, in Adams’s gothic tale of madness, sibling rivalry and lepidoptera. Adams is a skillful, entertaining storyteller.’ –The Guardian

"This is a dark book, but an extremely funny one, recalling Mark Haddon and Barbara Trapido by turns. A brilliantly paced debut." –Daily Mail

"[A] striking debut novel...[The Sister] is also, in its quietly idiosyncratic way, a novel of ideas. When Ginny reflects on the 'analytic and scientific' cast of mind she inherited from her father, it’s difficult not to think of Keats and the 'touch of cold philosopy' that 'unweaves' the poetry of natural phenomena. Adams took a risk in deciding to tell her story in the flat, abstracted voice of someone who has devoted her life to a 'little known insect.' But it is a convincing, true voice and it is to Adams’s credit that she sustains it as she does." –Financial Times

"Cognitive dissonance is what drives the plot, and that makes this quite a bold first novel." –Daily Telegraph

"Damaged families, psychological drama and ghosts from the past abound. Adams succeeds in carefully building up an atmosphere of penumbral suspense,
creeping towards a tense climax." –Literary Review

"[The Sister] is an intricately crafted story, told with just the right balance of claustrophobia and compassion." –Psychologies Magazine

"[A] beautifully staged story...mesmerising and unsettling." –Good Housekeeping Book of the Month

"The scene is set for sinister secrets and the revival of murderous family tensions. Adams’s debut is an atmospheric addition to the ‘mess with your head’
school of fiction." –Marie Claire, 4 stars

“A gothic mystery that hums along on its slow-burning menace, Poppy Adams’s The Sister is a sinful box of bonbons: delicious, but you never know what's inside the next bite.” –Andrew Pyper, author of Lost Girls and The Wildfire Season

“A taut, tense tale of the ties that bind–sometimes a little too tightly.”–Karin Slaughter

“This lyrical and haunting story of two sisters, their troubling past, and the terrible secrets they each want buried will stay with you long after you close the book.  A wonderful book loaded with twists and turns that come straight from the heart.”–Harlan Coben

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307388315
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,393,905
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Poppy Adams
Poppy Adams is a biochemist by training and has been a TV documentary film maker for the BBC and the Discovery Channel. This is her first novel. She is already at work on her second. She is 30 years old, and lives with her husband and three children in Notting Hill, London. She gave birth to her third child two weeks before she sold this novel.

Biography

A biochemist by training, Poppy Adams has been a TV documentary film maker for the BBC and the Discovery Channel. Published in 2008, her debut novel, The Sister, tells the story of two long-estranged, elderly siblings, descended from a long line of distinguished lepidopterists, who are drawn back into a maelstrom of childhood memories and dark family secrets over the course of a tension-filled weekend reunion. Adams lives in Notting Hill, London, with her husband and three children.

Good To Know

Here are some interesting outtakes from our interview with Poppy Adams:

"I've always found America fascinating, and I understand the pull it exerts on people from around the world. Each on my visits there represents a very different stage of my life. The first was a school lacrosse tour, the second a university lacrosse tour (I played for junior England and we got thrashed!). More recently, my documentary career has taken me all over -- San Francisco and New Orleans are two of my favorite cities.

But it was my stay in New York, when I was 23, to which I owe some of my decision to write. I'd been working in New Zealand, split up with my boyfriend, and decided to head for the big lights of New York (the pull of America, it's where to head for a certain type of adventure...). I'd saved up enough money to enroll in a short-course film school that I'd always wanted to do. It felt like a real indulgence and I loved it. I lived with a Japanese girl (who I met on the course) in St. Marks Place. The flat was cheap and grotty, but it was above a really groovy, moody French restaurant called Jules. I'd be in Jules late at night, drinking coffee, discussing film, trying to story-board the assignment for the following day. Upstairs I'd fall asleep listening to French jazz played on the saxophone or accordion in the café below. I loved the jazz bars in Alphabet city, and I watched the underworld of illegal European immigrants. That was twelve years ago. Since then I've only passed through NY and have never been back to St Marks. I hope Jules is still there, the snails, the coffee, the music, the mood.

Back to my film course: When it came to writing my end-of-course film, Adam, my tutor, read my proposal and said he loved the way I wrote, but it wasn't a film. In fact, he said, I wasn't a filmmaker but one day I'd be a writer. I'd always had an urge to write, and Adam seemed so certain that it's what I would do that I've never forgotten his comment. I'm sure it helped convince me to give it a go, and later, to keep going. I find it fascinating that, although it was certainly a passing comment for him, and I'm sure he's completely forgotten me, by saying it -- especially in such a definitive manner -- it may have instigated something that was to become so life-changing for me."

"I wrote The Sister inside out. I knew the beginning, the end, the setting, and the main themes I was interested in. And I knew my characters inside out. The plot happened as I wrote."

"I love the theatre. I will nip off, even alone, to see every production I can in London. Even bad theatre I find interesting, as I like to pick it apart to discover why it didn't work. Conversely, I'm often disappointed in films. So many are too unsubtle, pretentious, over-hyped, or clichéd. I'm hard to please when it comes to a good film script. I think a story should be a story, and keep an audience fixed for its entirety, but I also think you have to be original and never do what's been done many times before."

"I hate cooking (at the moment). I am totally uninspired to cook anything - and equally uninspired to know what I'd like to eat. It's a new thing and I have no idea why!"

"I grew up on a farm in Somerset, in South West England. I love the outdoors and, in my teens and twenties, I used to travel a lot. I spent a year in Africa -- part teaching, part on a paleontology dig (looking for fossils of our human ancestors), part working with the rangers in a game reserve, and part doing up an old Land Rover whilst touring from north to south. Another year was spent traveling across India and Indonesia and ending up in New Zealand. Now I've lost my wanderlust, as I feel that by traveling to these places, I may be exacerbating their decline, culturally or environmentally. Besides, I now really appreciate the British countryside, and have as big a thrill walking our coastal walks, hiking in the Scottish highlands, or exploring Dartmoor which is an area I know well.

My husband and I have a secret escape on the edge of the moors, in the middle of nowhere, hidden in a sheltered valley. It's a stone cottage, a former farmhouse, three hundred years old, with flagstone floors, open fires, a small cobblestone courtyard, and an adjoining barn. It's fed by a spring and we run a small generator for power. It's surrounded by old stone walls and ancient oak woods. Moss and lichen clad the trees and ropes of ivy hang over the river which weaves through great boulders of Dartmoor granite, making natural stone swimming pools in summer. From the cottage you see no neighbors, just views of the high moors that surround it (magnificent in the late afternoon sun) and the sounds of the rushing river below, the hunting buzzards, the call of tawny owls, the whiteness of the barn owl caught by the moon, the bats... It's my heaven.

I'm saddened by the decline of so many of England's animals, in particular our insects and birds, saddened that we can destroy so much of what has been part of this country for centuries, all within the last 50 years."

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      London, UK
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 20, 1972
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oxford, UK
    1. Education:
      BSc (Hons), Natural Sciences, Durham University, UK. (1991 - 1993)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Lookout

It's ten to two in the afternoon and I've been waiting for my little sister, Vivi, since one-thirty. She's finally coming home, at sixty-seven years old, after an absence of nearly fifty years.

I'm standing at a first-floor window, an arched stone one like you'd find in a church, my face close up to the diamond-shaped leaded panes, keeping lookout. For a moment I focus on the glass and catch the faint, honest reflection of my eye staring back at me, a lock of gray straggly hair in its way. I don't often look at my reflection and to peer at this moment directly into my eye feels more disconcerting than it should, as if I can sense I'm about to be judged.

I pull my wool cardy-an old one of my father's-more tightly around me, tucking the loose end under my arm. It's dropped a degree today, the wind must have changed easterly during the night, and later we'll get fog in the valley. I don't need a barograph or a hygrometer these days, I can sense it-pressure changes, a shift in humidity-but, to tell the truth, I also think about the weather to help me take my mind off things. If I didn't have it to ponder right now, I'd already be getting slightly anxious. She's late.

My smoky breath turns to liquid as it hits the window and, if I rub the mist into heavy droplets, I can make it trickle down the glass. From here I can see half the length of the grassy drive as it winds through the tall skeletal limes on either side, until it disappears right, curving downhill towards East Lodge and the lane and the outside world. If I move my head a fraction to the left the drive elongates and the tops of the limes veer suddenly to the side, distorted by theimperfections of handmade glass. Moving it a little to the right splits the beech hedge in two on either side of a bubble. I know every vagary of every pane. I've lived here all my life and, before me, my mother lived here all her life and, before her, her father and grandfather.

Did I tell you that Vivien said in her letter she was returning for good? For some final peace, she said, because now, she said, we ought to be keeping each other company for the rest of our lives, rather than dying lonely and alone. Well, I'll tell you now, I don't feel lonely and I certainly don't feel as if I'm dying, but even so I'm glad she's coming home. Glad, and a little nervous-a surge of apprehension is swelling in my stomach. I can't help wondering what we'll talk about after all these years and, I suppose, if I'll even recognize her.

I'm not, as a rule, an emotional person. I'm far too-how shall I put it?-levelheaded. I was always the sensible sister and Vivi was the adventurer, but my excitement at her impending arrival even surprises me.

She is late, however. I look at my wristwatch-the digital one on my left wrist. Her letter most specifically read one-thirty and, believe me, it's not my timekeeping that's gone awry. I keep a number of clocks just so I can be sure that, even if one or two let me down, I can always find the correct time. When you live by yourself in a house that you very rarely leave and is even more rarely visited, it's essential that you don't lose track of the time. Every minute lost-if left uncorrected-would soon accumulate to an hour, and then hours, until-as you can imagine-you could easily end up living in a completely erroneous time frame.

Our mother, Maud, and I were always waiting for Vivi: in the hall before we went to church or shouting for her from the landing to hurry up for school. And it's now, as I wait for her again, that I find snippets of our childhood jumping into my head, slices of conversation, things I've not thought about since they happened: our first pair of boots, which Vivi had chosen for us, long black ones that laced to the top; long afternoons in the summer holidays spent damming up the brook to create our own tributaries and islands; sneaking into the loggia at harvest time to drink cider before taking it to the men in the fields; giggling with Maud at Clive's rare excitement when he created a Six-spot Burnet with five spots; our first trip to boarding school, holding each other's clammy hands with shared anticipation, squeezed among the chemical bottles in the back of Clive's car.

It was a childhood in perfect balance, so I'm wondering what it was that came along and changed everything. It wasn't just one thing. There's rarely a sole cause for the separation of lives. It's a sequence of events, an inexorable chain reaction where each small link is fundamental, like a snake of upended dominoes. And I've been thinking that the very first one, the one you push to start it all off, must have been when Vivi slipped off our bell tower and nearly died, fifty-nine years ago.

Excerpted from The Sister by Poppy Adams Copyright © 2008 by Poppy Adams. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. What is your initial impression of Ginny? Does she appear to be a trustworthy narrator? Are there aspects of her musings as she waits for Vivien that make you dislike or mistrust her?

2. What do the tone and content of Ginny's description of Vivien's fall from the bell tower convey about how her mind works [p. 14]? Is her literal, straightforward style characteristic of the way children report an event, or does it seem odd or jarring to you? Do her parents' reactions [pp. 15–16] reinforce your impressions? What do they reveal about Clive and Maud, both as parents and as individuals?

3. What insights does Ginny's admission that she, like her father, is "hopeless at social expression" [p. 29] offer into the family dynamics? In what ways does Ginny and Vivien's relationship mirror their parents' relationship? Do the similarities between a parent and a child, real or imagined, often divide families into to separate "camps"?

4. In what ways is the condition of Bulburrow Court a metaphor for Ginny's emotional state? Compare Vivien's point of view [p. 33] to Ginny's explanation of why she has stripped the house of its furnishings and closed off many of its rooms [pp. 33–34 and p. 73]. In stressing the practical aspects of her decision, is Ginny suppressing more complicated feelings? Are there hints that she may be aware of the psychological motivations behind her actions?

5. As they become reacquainted, the sisters alternately communicate with warmth and affection and wound each other. Is their behavior typical of sibling relationships? Discuss Ginny's comment that the sisters' relationship is "exactly the same as it was half a century ago, as if we've not matured at all" [p. 39] in terms of your own family or other long-term relationships.

6. What does Maud's handling of her daughters' experiences at school [pp. 40–42, pp. 51–52] reveal about her maternal instincts and strengths? What are the consequences of the choices she makes and her eagerness to create a tightly knit family?

7. Is Clive a passive presence in the household? Ginny claims that "he didn't have a clue what was going on anywhere in the house apart from his lab" and can't see "how he could have caused offense to anyone" [p. 83]. Vivi responds: "I'm afraid you've got the wrong person, Ginny. Clive could smell a rat in the pantry from that lab." Is Vivien's far different interpretation of his role in the family closer to your own impressions? Cite the specific incidents or passages that support your point of view.

8. What lessons does Ginny draw from her parents' frequent lectures about how clever she is while "they never seemed to offer the same compliments to Vivi" [p. 52]? To what extent is her belief that "I'm one of the lucky ones who are carried along and life falls into place" attributable to her upbringing and the distinctions her parents make between the sisters? What other factors play a role in her assumptions?

9. How do Ginny's reactions to her mother's decline [p. 111, pp 121–124] and death [pp. 169–171] reflect the emotional currents Maud established in the household? What do her reasons for keeping Maud's secret from Vivien [p.130] reveal about the detachment and deceptions that Maud and Clive exhibited in their relationships with each other and with the girls?

10. What is the significance of the sisters' plan to have Ginny carry a baby for Vivien? What qualities does Arthur bring out of each of the sisters? Does the arrangement—as well as the eventual outcome—change your sympathies for either sister? How accurately does Ginny perceive the situation? Discuss the implications of the question she asks many years later: "Could our entire sisterhood have been a farce, years of complicated deception, of endless assurances of love, charm and manipulation, all so that one day she could take what she wanted?" [p. 225].

11. In his research, Clive focuses on imperfect specimens: "If you could work out, he said, how they'd gone wrong, you'd discover a lot more about how nature worked" [p. 54]. What similarities are there between Clive and Ginny's approach to the study of moths and how Ginny presents her family history? In what ways does Ginny's ability to manipulate conditions in her scientific studies manifest itself in the methods she employs in hopes of discovering why Vivien has come home?

12. At what point in the novel does Ginny cross the line from eccentricity to something more frightening and disturbing? Does Vivien intentionally provoke her, or does Ginny misinterpret her sister's behavior?

13. Vivien offers Ginny several opportunities to face the truth about the past. Would Ginny have responded differently if she had been less involved with her father and their shared professional ambitions? If she had more empathy with Maud's needs and her aspirations for her daughters? Do you think Ginny is emotionally or intellectual capable of seeing the bigger picture?

14. The daily and seasonal rhythm of Clive and Ginny's work is described in detail. What effect does this have on the flow of the novel? In what ways do the meticulous accounts of the behavior of moths further the sense of anticipation and suspense as the story unfolds?

15. What elements of Ginny's research create a narrative that runs parallel to—and sheds light on—the human life cycle and the impact of innate characteristics and environment on individuals? How do the scientific descriptions enhance the themes of the novel and your understanding of characters and their actions?

16. How does the author use Ginny's own voice to expose her limitations as a narrator? How does she bring to life Ginny's naïveté and the darker, more calculating side of her personality?

17. Is the ending of the novel inevitable? What events foreshadow Ginny's actions and her ultimate fate?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 154 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(25)

4 Star

(59)

3 Star

(48)

2 Star

(19)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 154 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2008

    Blech!

    Poppy Adams does have a very nice style of writing which is probably the only reason I finished this book. There was way too much information about moths! After reading this book I feel like I am Ginny. There is nothing to figure out in this book because, just like Ginny, you don't know enough to draw any solid conclusions about what happened. So this is what it's like to be mentally challenged about your surroundings? To top it off, I'm totally annoyed at flyjo9 who ruined the only surprise/twist in the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    One of the BEST books I have ever read

    This book was great. It was easy to read but didn't feel like 'an easy read'. It really makes you think about who the crazy one is. It shows that it is a matter perspective. It reminded me of the Bette Davis movie WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2008

    Wanted to know More!

    I love this type of story, but this one left me wanting to know more about the characters - and what some of them had been doing for the past 50 years. I think the coorelation of the decay of Ginny's moth research and the dcay of hers and her family's life and relationships was very interesting and readable. I always loved bugs, butterflys, moths and the like as a child - so that part was totally interesting and I got immersed in those parts. Good read! I want more from Poppy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    Poppy Adam's debut novel was haunting. It drew me in slowly building more questions than providing answers- an exercise in imagination. Ginny's metamorphosis was symbolic, we watched as she was eccentrically passive only to take perceived control of her life at the end. I will read this novel again and gleen more from a second look. Both sisters' character kept the reader with two feet planted firmly in midair.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    Families can make and break us, and The Sister is a fine example of this. This book takes you into a family dynamic that leaves you with more questions than answers. That sometimes is a good thing. I liked the fact that the story revolved around one sister thinking about her family and all that they were and were not. Is she reliable or not? That is what compels you to keep reading. You can't quite figure out what exactly is going on, what went on in the past, and the what will happen in the present. If you like stories that raise more questions, and keep you thinking, this book is for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    Wow, this reader expected just another ordinary book and thankfully found thought-provoking, unique literature. While reading 'The Sister', I was so fortunate to encounter dozens upon dozens of unique conversations with others who were reading this unique tome and upon finishing it I absolutely could not stop thinking about it. This is a novel that brings forth dialog and emotion, and above all, causes the reader to think. We have Poppy Adams to thank for reviving smart literature. She is definitely one to watch.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    'The Sister' is an evocative and eerie novel that centers around the relationship between two adult sisters. When these two sisters (who have not seen each other for decades) undertake to reunite, things are not quite as one would expect. Ms. Adams captivated my attention and drew me in to the dark and ominous world she created. It was difficult for me to put the book down and I often found myself reading ahead of what the book-club schedule dictated. The novel does heavily focus on moths and the science underlying the moth life-cycle and this was a reason some readers attributed to not enjoying the book. I confess that I did prefer other portions of the book but I did feel that the science added an important element to the story and assisted in character development. All in all, I think Ms. Adams presents a compelling novel and I think it's a perfect book for a rainy day (don't forget your cup of tea!).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    Poppy Adams' The Sister is one excellently creepy book. It opens, as many books do, in a crumbling English estate. Its narrator is an elderly woman, something of a holdover from an previous age, as is done in many books. But from that point on, all bets are off. I would love to discuss the plot in painstaking detail, but there's really no way I can without spoiling it for you, the potential reader, and I do think you should read this book. Simply put, action is kept to the minimum in The Sister the bulk of the novel is composed of flashbacks to the narrator's youth and the slice-of-life situations one might imagine would result after two sisters estranged for decades are reunited all of which builds up to some pivotal choices, events, and outcomes. But oh, these are very well done indeed. Adams, who worked as a documentary filmmaker before trying her hand as a novelist, brings a cinematographer's sense of pacing, staging, and ambiance to her narrative. Readers are certain that something is going to happen, just not what. Or when. Adams has also performed the neat trick of creating a character reliable in her unreliability (the meaning of this phrase will become clear to anyone who reads the book), as well as penning what could have been a hackneyed ending but with an unusual twist, which it is just killing me not to be able to discuss here. That said, a caveat: lepidoptery (the study of moths) plays an integral role in The Sister's plot. I actually enjoyed this aspect of the novel quite a bit, as it offered a chance to learn something about a discipline with which I'm not terribly familiar while being entertained by a cracking good story nevertheless, I can see how those passages might disagree with a reader looking for faster pacing from their novels. But once one stops to think about it, all the talk of moth behavior adds to readers' understanding of the main character in a way that simply would not have been possible otherwise without some other disruptive means (breaking with the narrator's voice or worse yet, the dreaded explanatory epilogue). I found The Sister to be highly enjoyable book that I recommend to anyone looking for a suspenseful read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    The book starts out, seeming on one path, and takes the reader down a different one altogether. The story is beautifully written and I found the characters to be well written. The relationship between the sisters is dysfunctional but the reader cannot put the book down. I found the twist at the end was one that I never saw coming. This is an author that I will look for more work from. Poppy Adams has written a beautiful story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    I received this arc from the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club. It is so wonderful to be a part of this program because the authors are also on the message boards and will answer questions from readers. I can¿t tell you how much I enjoyed reading Poppy Adams¿ responses to the questions posed. I will definitely be reading more of her work when it comes out. The Sister is her first novel. Originally titled The Time of Emergence, and called The Behaviour of Moths in the UK, The Sister is a book where, after reaching the end, the reader may be left with more questions unanswered than answered. There are multiple interpretations that could be made about several different occurrences in the book. For me, that¿s what makes this story so fascinating. I know that may be more of a frustration to some, though. Vivien (Vivi) and Virginia (Ginny) are two sisters who grew up in a countryside mansion with lepidopterist ancestors. Their maternal grandfather and father were both lepidopterists, and Ginny becomes a lepidopterist. What is a lepidopterist? It¿s a person who studies moths and butterflies. There is much discussion of the behavior of moths in this book, but it is an essential aspect of the story. While reading and after finishing the book, I realized many parallels between the behavior of moths and the behavior of the characters in the novel. This is a book I¿ll probably re-read at some point to catch all the connections between the two. Vivi and Ginny have been separated for decades, and the reasons why become apparent as the story unfolds. Very different from each other, Vivi is outgoing and leaves home for London at a young age, while Ginny is an introvert and a homebody. In fact, as the novel opens, we get the sense that Ginny hasn¿t left her home for many, many years. Vivien decides to come back to the house, stating to Ginny that as sisters, they should spend their old age together. The entire novel only takes place over a few days, but as each day unfolds, we are also given glimpses from the past and why they have been separated for so long. All of this is told from Ginny¿s perspective, though, and as Ginny and Vivi discuss their history together, they both realize that they saw their childhood in distinctly different ways. These differences are crucial to figuring out what is going on in the story. What is going on in the story? I don¿t want to tell you much, because it has a really good, creepy, gothic, Hitchcock feel to it that is better left to finding out by reading the story. If you don¿t mind not having everything wrapped up in the end, and if you like having multiple interpretations of a storyline, you¿ll love this book. I really enjoyed it, and the more I think about it, the more I love it. Rating: 4.5/5

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    I was taken in by the first chapters of the book where we find one sister waiting for the other to arrive, but slowly the book lost me through all the science of the moths. I wanted to follow the mystery of the families lives, but it kept getting thrown in with moth talk. The book did grab me toward the 2nd half of the book and had me until the end, where I felt I was left hanging. For a first novel, I give Poppy Adams good marks for her characters and story, but she left to many questions for the reader to have to answer on their own. I wanted to like this book, but in the end it wasn't my type of book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    In The Sister author Poppy Adams introduces her readers to the thoughts of Miss Virginia (Ginny) Stone as she awaits the arrival of her sister Vivien after an absence of nearly fifty years. As the two sisters share a weekend reunion and begin to prepare for a life together at their ancestral home Bulburrow Court, Ginny shares her thoughts about family, family history, childhood, young adulthood and career. As the observer of Ginny's thoughts and subsequent actions, there are times when you cannot turn the pages fast enough and there are times when you want to push Ginny to stand up for herself, to communicate and to share her life. But at the end of four short days shared with her sister you will not be prepared for Ginny's shocking and significant decisions. This story is well-written, intriguing and one I shall remember. I find myself thinking about Ginny and Vivi, relationships and perceptions long after I finished reading The Sister.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2008

    Sister

    It had a great story line but it kept getting lost in all the scientific stuff. Interesting thought provoking story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    I couldn't put the book down. At one point, I knew what was going to happen, but I still had to keep reading. I enjoyed it much more than the HAR - even though I'm not sure why. The idea behind both novels was similar...an elderly woman telling her story in the first person. There was mystery and intrigue in both. I think 'The Sister' tied the end up a little more neatly which fits my personality a little better, too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    Giving 2-stars is being nice. 'The Sister' by Poppy Adams was a waste of my time. It was captivating, mostly because I kept reading because with every page turned, I'd tell myself it was going to get better. Next thing I knew, 200 or so pages went by and I hadn't fallen in love with the plot, or the overwelming amount of useless information that I pray I can push out of my head. A few of the characters I liked, but they were buried to the neck in bugs, or in this case catapillars. If you are looking for a scientific report on every stickin detail of bugs, then this book is for you, except occasionally there are some paragraphs about some people, with some problems, doing something. If you are looking for a compelling story about family, the loss of loved ones, and the insanity that comes with family, then don't bother reading this book, because it is only a tease of a glimpse into the of lives of Ginny and Vivian.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    After a slow start, I found myself caught up in Ms. Adams' debut novel. While I normally read books for their enjoyment factor and don't necessarily read them with the aim of analyzing every action of the characters, I found myself constantly rethinking my opinions of Ginny and Vivi and how their lives evolved as they did. Ms. Adams' does a very good job of weaving the sisters' memories of the past into their present lives. It is interesting to see how Ginny and Vivi see the same events in totally different lights. As the story progresses, Ginny is forced to rethink some of her earlier memories and how they impacted her life. How might her life have been different if events had occurred differently? Ms. Adams' use of moths and how she interwove the moths with the behaviors of the family members was neatly done. Some of her scientific descriptions about the moths and their development were a little too indepth for my tastes. Ms. Adams' does not 'spoon feed' the reader everything about this book, but makes you think. If you don't like having everything handed to you, you will enjoy this book. If you like to think and draw your own conclusions, this book is for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2008

    Sister

    Poppy Adam¿s debut novel, The Sister, begins with an elderly woman waiting for her sister to arrive home after a 50 year absence. Ginny has lived her entire life in the family house - a broken down, monolith tucked into the countryside of England. She is a recluse who peers from behind her windows at the neighbors and lives an obsessively ordered existence bordering on paranoia. Vivi, on the other hand, is socially outgoing - an older woman who looks ten years younger. Years earlier,Vivi separated herself from her family and appeared to never look back. But now she has returned and this event will become the catalyst which allows Ginny¿s long repressed grievances to emerge. The novel occurs over a four day period and is narrated from Ginny¿s point of view. As Ginny remembers her childhood with Vivi, the reader begins to understand the source of her neuroses. Ginny¿s father, Clive, was a famous lepidopterist and Ginny assisted him with his obsessive study of moths. The moths become another character in the book, which in my opinion elevated the novel from a so-so Gothic tale to an exceptional first work. The Sister is about mental illness, addiction and the dynamics of family, but it is also about nature vs. nurture and whether or not it is choice or biology which dictates our behavior. Adams uses the moth as a symbol to underline these concepts. 'I can mimic the scent of a flower so that a moth will direct itself towards the scent, and kills itself. Each time each moth will kill itself. It is this constancy that makes them a scientific delight - you do not need to factor in a rogue element of individuality. - From The Sister, page 55-' The Sister is a spellbinding work, one which immerses the reader completely in the story and builds to a relentless and shocking end. Adam¿s development of Ginny¿s character is like a slow train gathering speed and momentum. The sense of doom, of things unraveling provides the tension for the novel. Readers who like all loose ends tied up may struggle with this book. Adams allows for reader interpretation of certain events, and Ginny¿s reliability as a narrator is questionable. The Sister will appeal to readers who like to work their way through a web of information, untangling it as they go. It is a thoughtful novel which explores the darker side of human nature. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2008

    Sister

    I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. It was an interesting read full of all kinds of twists and turns. As you read the book you have no idea where Ginny is going to take you next from her past. I love the way she describes her life growing up with her sister and her parents. I also found it interesting the way Ginny shared the same interest as her father with moths. This book in my opinion is an excellent read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2008

    Sister

    I'm glad I had the opportunity to read 'The Sister.' Unlike many of the other readers in the group, I found myself becoming very sympathetic to Ginny, one of the two main characters in the story. I also found I didn't particularly care for her sister Vivi. I found her to be rather heartless and self-serving. (Of course, she did grow up to be the somewhat 'spoiled' daughter.) This is not a book I would normally pick up off the shelf, which is one reason why I enjoy the First Look Book Club. It gives readers the chance to try a book that is somewhat different than what they normally read. I plan to someday reread this book for pleasure's sake ... not having to analyze it for a book group, per se.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2008

    Sister

    The Stones were an unusual family, marked by sharply contrasting personalities and a family love for lepidoptery. When the last remaining members of the Stone family - sisters Vivian and Virginia - reunite after nearly fifty years of estrangement, the family's deepest secrets rise to the surface. Vivian's arrival on Virginia's doorstep heralds the exposure of truth behind the tragic events that destroyed a once-grand family. This is a great first-time novel from Poppy Adams, who is primarily known for making television documentaries. Initially, I had my reservations about this book as the jacket blurbs brought it across as chick-lit. It's not. This is soooo not chick-lit. The best description I can think of for this is 'Southern Gothic with a British twist'... Twisting and turning, eerie and provocative, disturbing and seductive at the same time. The documentary filmmaking experience has served Adams well in writing The Sister. She has a keen sense for what details are and are not important, and for the unfolding of a story. She makes excellent use of flashbacks, and is capable of painting a picture so vivid that you can picture it just as clearly in your head as on a television screen. Her characters are remarkably well-rendered as well as memorable. Ginny (Virginia) is easily the most fascinating character of the whole story, both for being the narrator and for her defining characteristics. By the middle of the book, you can already tell that her accounting for events is slightly skewed or perhaps absent a certain perceptiveness natural in most people. Approaching the last quarter of the book, taking in the whole of Ginny's narratives regarding her childhood and her reaction to Vivi's arrival, I began to get a more concrete idea that Ginny's character likely experiences some form of high-functioning autism / Asperger's Syndrome. That understanding, in itself, put a twist on the revelations in the final chapters of the book. On the whole, this is an outstanding read. It will be interesting to see what Adams produces when she next puts pen to paper.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 154 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)