Thursday, January 23, 2014

sisterland.

Really Curtis Sittenfeld? Really? After Prep and American Wife, you give us the horribly drab Sisterland?

I don't tend to finish books I don't like, but I kept holding out for this novel to get better. I was engrossed right away, but quickly regretted keeping on. I kept waiting for it to get more interesting. To be less predictable. And none of that happened.

The story follows two twins, Violet and Daisy (later she calls herself "Kate") from childhood to adulthood . . . though it's not told in a linear-fashion; it hops around (which I'm fine with.) Both twins are psychic; they have special senses, though Kate has renounced hers. So when Violet announces on television that there will be a cataclysmic earthquake in their hometown of St. Louis, this releases a whirlwind of press, attention, and stress between the sisters. But here's the thing: I don't really understand why. The argument fall into the the so-what? category. Kate's reasoning for being so angry with Violet is weak. The story is narrated from Kate's point-of-view. She is unexciting, unsympathetic, and overall, rather unlikable. Except, she's only moderately unlikable, so not even interesting enough to be despised.

Kate whines throughout the whole story. She whines about her sister, who doesn't really seem all that bad. She whines about her children, going into depth about motherhood - which I'd be fine with if it were told in some kind of interesting manner. She also jumps into decisions in a rather stupid manner. Yes, of course she and her husband can pay the $15,000 publicist fee for Violet without much of a thought, since she has become just THAT popular with her lame prediction. What? Who does that? (By the way, they themselves only had $11,000 in the bank.) Anyway, I thought Kate was so angry with Violet and that's what the whole book is based on . . .

Paralleling the sister story, is a friendship between Kate and her husband Jeremy and another couple, Hank and Courtney. Courtney, as a geologist, has been pitted (not even that strongly) against Violet in the earthquake story. So, somehow this creates a huge chasm between Kate and Courtney. They're no longer friends. I'm not sure why not. Sittenfeld does an awful job at making most things believable throughout. She makes small things into bigger deals than they should be. Even the crux on which the story is based: the prediction of a big earthquake, is mild and weak and leaves me desperately wanting. Later, when Kate and Jeremy move to New York, someone hears she is from St. Louis and says "Oh, that's where that psychic was from!" Um, there are crazy psychic predictions all the time. If someone was from St. Louis, would this really be the first thing you say, or even think of? See . . . more small things that are just unbelievable and totally forced by the author.

Later, (and spoiler alert, but I don't care because I don't want you to read this), when Kate sleeps with Hank, we expect this. When she grovels back to Jeremy, he is relatively fine with it. They move out of town and raise this third child as their own.

This novel has zero charisma. Zero interest. It is a giant zero in my book. Do not read it.

2 comments:

picky said...

This is partially why I adore you: spoiler, but I don't care because I do not want you to read this.

Hahahaha! I wasn't planning on it anyway, but I love your brutal honesty. Yep, believability is kind of a big deal. Sorry this was such a bust but not sorry because it gave us this review. :)

Joyce Polance said...

Thanks for the review, Jen. I've had this on my list, and no more!