Sisterland: A Novel

Sisterland: A Novel

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Sisterland: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, Rebecca Lowman


Slate • Daily Candy • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Guardian (U.K.)

“Novelists get called master storytellers all the time, but Sittenfeld really is one. . . . What might be most strikingly excellent about Sisterland is the way Sittenfeld depicts domesticity and motherhood.”—Maggie Shipstead, The Washington Post
Psychologically vivid . . . Sisterland is a testament to [Curtis Sittenfeld’s] growing depth and assurance as a writer.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“[Sittenfeld’s] gifts are in full effect with this novel, and she uses them to create a genuinely engrossing sense of uncertainty and suspense.”—Sloane Crosley, NPR’s All Things Considered

Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife and Prep, returns with a mesmerizing novel of family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief.
From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.
Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.
Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.

Praise for Sisterland
“What’s most captivating about Sisterland is the intimate, intense portrayal of identical twin sisters. . . . [The novel] unfolds like a good prophecy—inevitable and shocking.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“The accomplished Sittenfeld . . . is as skillful as ever at developing an intriguing premise and likable characters. . . . Sittenfeld’s affectionate take on sibling rivalry is spot-on.”—People
“The power of [Sittenfeld’s] writing and the force of her vision challenge the notion that great fiction must be hard to read. She is a master of dramatic irony, creating fully realized social worlds before laying waste to her heroines’ understanding of them. . . . Her prose [is] a rich delight.”—The Boston Globe
Wise and often wickedly entertaining . . . Readers who have siblings—especially women with sisters—will likely come away feeling as if the author really is psychic.”—USA Today

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307736604
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/25/2013
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 12
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 5.92(h) x 1.19(d)

About the Author

Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of the novels Prep, The Man of My Dreams, and American Wife, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her nonfiction has been published by The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Allure, and Glamour, and broadcast on public radio’s This American Life. She graduated from Stanford and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.


Washington, D.C.

Date of Birth:

August 23, 1975

Place of Birth:

Cincinnati, Ohio


B.A., Stanford University, 1997; M.F.A., University of Iowa (Iowa Writers¿ Workshop), 2001

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Sisterland: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 101 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a great premise and an easy read, if you don't mind the smallest things being overwritten. I think my favorite thing about the book was the familiarity to me of the locations, and that's truly a lame reason to to love a book. I tried so hard to ignore all the stereotypes Ms. Sittenfeld employed, and there are many, but what ultimately made me realize how I felt about the book was her sloppy attempt at wrapping the story up. Booo....I expected better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...and it did. From the horrible thing that happened in middle school through to the end, the buildups were never satisfyingly resolved.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Kate and Vi are identical sisters who have the unusual ability to sense future events externally and in people’s lives.  While Vi totally embraces this ability, Kate has had a memorable experience that leads her to avoid even thinking about her ability.  The two sisters are very close, as identical twins very often are, but begin to grow apart as Vi becomes more and more strange, bohemian, and just plain shocking in her behavior, much to the consternation of Kate and her husband. In the present, Vi’s job as medium increases as her TV appearance coincides with a scientist’s talk about a potential earthquake.  Given the public’s fascination with the weird and disastrous, it is Vi’s prediction that goes viral.  As the ramifications of this exposure grow daily, Kate must confront her past and the development of Vi’s “gift,” with all of its confusing and complex realities.  And so the story reverts to the past, to how both sisters recognized they could sense things, their discovery of its familial origins, and their attitude to it all.  Vi uses it, amazingly in one specific case that gets public exposure, and Kate just wants to be “normal.”   Weaving back and forth between the past and present, the sisters’ stories weave with reality.  Kate in particular is dealing with a relationship with two dear friends, one of whom will be dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and the other being more than just a friend for a brief time.  Nothing is simple it seems, but could these experiences have been predicted, prevented, or developed in a different way? Silence is often as important as speaking when considering loyalty and betrayal, but the line can be thin indeed as Kate and Vi learn. Curtis Sittenfeld’s presentation of characters is excellent, exploring the overt and covert connections that develop relationships, that which binds and severs closeness, the multiple random and deliberate misunderstandings that so strongly affect both one’s past and future life, the humor vital to defusing hot moments and drawing closer, and so much more!  This is an intriguing read of contemporary fiction with elements of mystery that totally engage the reader into the story until the very last page! Very well-done, Curtis Sittenfeld!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although i loved the story of the sisters bond, which is truly what the book is about. The twist at the end left me very disturbed and disappointed. It seemed gratuitous and unnecessary with everything else going on. A good read, but not a light summer read by any means...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is literally the entire life story of the character Daisy. If you want to read a book about a stupid stay at home mom who just complains about her psychic powers, then this book is for you. I thought that the psychic-ness would make it interesting, but it didn't. Even that dragged on. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first Curtis Sittenfeld novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
I went Back To The Future in this gem of a novel. Although it saddens me to think in fifty years teenagers probably won’t get many of the pop culture references, I’ve decided to live in the moment, or the recent past, as this novel clearly does. With The Simpsons, American Idol, Letterman, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” Rolling Stone, Christina Aguilera, The Fugitive, “The Way You Look Tonight,” Today, Animal House, Spin Doctors, Blues Brothers, Monty Python, Good Morning Vietnam, Mannequin, and The Exorcist, they somehow all managed to “Take My Breath Away.” But this novel has more staying power than Cool Ranch Doritos, Wonder Bread topped with butter and cinnamon sugar, and gonorrhea. Kate and Vi Shramm both have extrasensory perceptions (ESP), along with being identical twin sisters, although each chooses a much different path. While Vi chooses to embrace her powers and attack the spotlight like she wants to ensure she receives every minute of her fifteen minutes of fame, Kate shies away from her powers like she might have caught an STD from some overzealous frat boy. Both seem sexually experienced in my limited knowledge of the world, but for entirely different reasons. Vi uses her assets, in this case ample breasts, as a weapon to manipulate unsuspecting male suitors, and in some cases, just for the hell of it, tossing around hand jobs and sexual favors like ice cream cones to six year-olds, while Kate takes a more reserved approach to sex, except when gentleness, kindness, or bouts of uncontrollable passion cause her to expose her naughty bits. Kate was the more likeable character, except I did have a few moments of displeasure with her over the course of the novel. Vi, however, was self-absorbed, hypocritical, irrational, contradictory, only acted in her own best interests, constantly passed judgment, and sometimes experienced what might be considered sociopathic tendencies. So I didn’t mind poking around in Kate’s head for some 400 odd pages or so. Had Vi been the real star of the show, though, I might have had an entirely different opinion of SISTERLAND. I received this book for free through NetGalley. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
chelleq More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book because it is different than what I normally read and because the storyline makes you think. All throughout the book Kate kept thinking about how selfish her twin Violet is but I feel that she is the one who is selfish. She only worried about herself and what others thought of her. She was so willing to deny a part of her heritage and wanted her sister to do the same. Every time there was a problem, her solution was just not to talk about it and pretend nothing ever happened. When she finally does marry the right guy, Kate still makes up excuses about everything going on around her instead of taking responsibility. With Violet's earthquake prediction, I do agree that October 16th was a date that was going to affect Kate's life, not the rest of the city or nation like how she believed it would be. There was still no excuse for what Kate did behind Jeremy's back and I'm glad the consequences were some that she could not ignore. I just think that it is sad that Gabe had to suffer for Kate's actions. I think the book is well written and I am definitely lending this book out to friends and family to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The synopsis sounds like this would be a very interesting read. It's not. It's boring. A good book to read at bed time because it'll put you right to sleep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring book with no plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw this book listed on list for 10 ten best selling book. Not sure how it made the list as it was the worst book I have read in years. I kept waiting for the storyline to get better but it dragged so much I started skimming. Don't waste your money on this book!
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KateUnger More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read this book right away because it is about identical twins. As an identical twin myself, I love reading twin books. I want to see if the author gets it "right". Curtis Sittenfeld definitely does. At one point Kate, the narrator, mentions that while she and Vi were not best friends growing up, there really was no basis for comparison against being twins. That's how Emily and I always responded when people asked if we liked being twins. Since we'd never been singletons, how could we really say how being twins compared? Sittenfeld also very accurately portrays Kate's innate desire to support her sister Vi...even against her husband's wishes. I listened to the audiobook, and the long stretches of backstory made it confusing to restart listening. I had a hard time placing myself in the story when I didn't remember if we were in the present or the past. But, at least, the backstory was told chronologically. I also struggled to determine what the main plot of the story was supposed to be. I thought it was Vi's prediction of the earthquake in St. Louis, but as the novel got closer to ending, it seemed to stretch on beyond that and shift focus a bit. I liked the character Hank: Kate's stay-at-home dad best friend. Their friendship was my favorite part of the book, but Sittenfeld managed to warp even that by the end of the book. There were several controversial subjects thrown into the book that didn't really seem necessary. While I agreed with the prevailing opinion of the book on all of them, for me, it distracted from what little plot there was to have these topics included in the story. In the end I just felt like not much happened in the book, even though a lot of things did take place.
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CMKmom More than 1 year ago
This is a book you take out to the pool and read here and there. The story is fairly good. The characters are fairly interesting - particularly the twins and their parents. Not a lot of thought has to go into reading this story, and there is a place for that kind of book. You don't want to have to concentrate on EVERY book you read - sometimes you just need something quick to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author simply could not help himself and fell into the ignorant trap of calling conservatives racist. Too bad Obama isn't a better example of enlightment and intellectualism and black exceptionalism.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the writers style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved "Prep" and I so enjoyed this book as well. Once I start a Sittenfeld book I can't quit until I'm done. I continue to look forward to new works from Curtis Sittenfeld.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago