Come and chat to CURTIS SITTENFELD about SISTERLAND (and all her previous books), Tues 4 Mar 2014, 9-10pm

(111 Posts)

Following the international success of her two previous bestsellers PREP and AMERICAN WIFE, Curtis Sittenfeld has been called the new Donna Tartt, the new Anne Tyler, the new Alice Munro (her own favourite writer). Her latest novel, SISTERLAND, is about a pair of twins, Violet and Kate, who both have psychic visions, or ‘the senses’ as they call them. As they grow up in their suburban, dysfunctional household, it becomes clear that Violet is going to be Bad Twin (drops out of school, can’t maintain a relationship, embraces her ESP with relish) and Kate the Good Twin (gets married, has two children, completely denies her psychic powers in the hope of a ‘normal’ life). But when Vi predicts a giant earthquake will hit their town, the resulting publicity and fame forces both sisters to reconsider their attitudes. Vi is a brilliant character – funny, crazy, flaky. Kate’s struggle with the daily joys and anxieties of motherhood and marriage is expertly observed. And over all this runs the ticking time-bomb of Vi’s prediction and whether the earthquake will actually happen. A clever combination of the paranormal and the everyday ultra-normal, this is a wise, funny and highly enjoyable read from an author we might call the new Kate Atkinson…

You can find more on Curtis? highly informative website including her journalism.

Random House have 50 copies to give to Mumsnetters – to claim yours please fill in your details on the book of the month page. We’ll post here when all the copies have gone. If you’re not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, you can always get your paperback or Kindle version here.

We are thrilled that Curtis will be joining us and answering questions about SISTERLAND, her writing career and her previous novels on Tuesday 4 March, 9-10pm. ??So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month, pop up any advance questions and we will see you all here, Tue 4 March.

I love reading everyone's reactions to the sisters, and who identifies with who.

I see Kate partly as an allegorical figure (to join the allegorical earthquake) - she ignores her psychic powers and therefore also ignores the most important feelings inside her, which leads her to make a bad decision and sleep with Hank.

I felt that both sisters constructed their own worlds to the extent of blocking out any others - Vi with her 'outsider' persona, and Kate with her domestic routine. The whole book seemed to me to be about how each of us creates their own reality, although some are accepted as 'real' and some are not.

I have to say I'm a Vi fan, and not so fond of Kate, although I understand why she acts as she does.

Curtis, do you have a favourite out of the two?

CurtisSittenfeld Tue 04-Mar-14 21:49:37

MrsSquirrel

My daughter wants to know if you have a favourite biscuit grin

Definitely chocolate chip.

CurtisSittenfeld Tue 04-Mar-14 21:52:57

DottyDee

Hi Curtis, I'm really enjoying reading your comments and loved the book. It's interesting that you hint at Kate's youngest boy being psychic. Why did you decide to do this? Was it to add symmetry,as Kate's father is also psychic?

Well, I think it's clear that this is a book that stops without every loose end being tied up, and I suppose it seems realistic to me that Kate's life will be filled with complications going forward. But perhaps if her son has senses, she will see her own in a new (more forgiving?) way. I do think having children who are and aren't similar to you gives you such a different perspective on your own identity.

CurtisSittenfeld Tue 04-Mar-14 21:56:04

Calypso2

Thanks for answering my question. I'll look out for David Gilbert and Mona Simpson. Do you read any British fiction?

Of course! I really admire Tessa Hadley a lot. I think she's quite similar to Alice Munro, who's my all-time favorite writer. There's a piece by Tessa Hadley that's either a story or novel excerpt (I read it in The New Yorker and can't remember which) about a young woman who's in love with her professor and dreams he'll fall in love with her and in the mean time she hooks up with a bartender who looks like the professor. And then--spoiler alert--her professor DOES fall in love with him, they marry, and years later she basically pretends to herself while hooking up with her husband that he's the professor. It's excellent!

I like Rachel Cusk too--she's on the exact border of how much acidity I can and can't tolerate in writing.

CurtisSittenfeld Tue 04-Mar-14 21:59:55

TillyBookClub

I love reading everyone's reactions to the sisters, and who identifies with who.

I see Kate partly as an allegorical figure (to join the allegorical earthquake) - she ignores her psychic powers and therefore also ignores the most important feelings inside her, which leads her to make a bad decision and sleep with Hank.

I felt that both sisters constructed their own worlds to the extent of blocking out any others - Vi with her 'outsider' persona, and Kate with her domestic routine. The whole book seemed to me to be about how each of us creates their own reality, although some are accepted as 'real' and some are not.

I have to say I'm a Vi fan, and not so fond of Kate, although I understand why she acts as she does.

Curtis, do you have a favourite out of the two?

I don't think I'd ever write a book whose primary characters I didn't feel affection for--after all, I have to spend time with these people day in and day out for years. I like both Vi and Kate. Of course, through out the book I know that Kate is going to make a huge mistake so I don't resent her "perfection" or what others perceive as self-righteousness in her. I also get a kick out of Vi, as in real life I often get a kick out of people, especially women, with "big personalities." I like people who talk a lot, assuming they're at least slightly interesting, and who are irreverent. Life is so much more fun when people say inappropriate things. (Hmm, can you tell it's been a long time since I've worked in an office?!)

Damn, we're running out of time.

Thank you to everyone who posted their thoughts and questions. It has been such an illuminating and interesting discussion this month.

Curtis, thank you very very much indeed for joining us tonight and providing such thoughtful and generous answers. I still have so many things I want to ask you, so please will you come back again when you have finished your next book (and can I squeeze in one last question and ask what you are working on at the moment?)

Good luck with the next project and many thanks once again for a very enjoyable evening.

CurtisSittenfeld Tue 04-Mar-14 22:01:11

I think maybe our time together is wrapping up. Thank you all so much for the great feedback, zesty opinions, and fun questions. From one mother to another, hope you all get a good night's sleep!

CurtisSittenfeld Tue 04-Mar-14 22:02:30

TillyBookClub

Damn, we're running out of time.

Thank you to everyone who posted their thoughts and questions. It has been such an illuminating and interesting discussion this month.

Curtis, thank you very very much indeed for joining us tonight and providing such thoughtful and generous answers. I still have so many things I want to ask you, so please will you come back again when you have finished your next book (and can I squeeze in one last question and ask what you are working on at the moment?)

Good luck with the next project and many thanks once again for a very enjoyable evening.

I'm now writing a present-day Pride & Prejudice set in the U.S., part of HarperCollins' larger Austen project. Yes, really! Stay tuned...

SummerDaisy Tue 04-Mar-14 23:53:41

Absolutely adored America Wife so very excited to read the new book

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 06-Mar-14 11:19:24

Thank you for answering my question, Curtis. Look forward to the next book very much.

marilynmonroe Mon 05-May-14 19:27:56

Thank you for my copy! I've finally finished it. I enjoyed the book and enjoyed the differences between the sisters although the ending was a bit of a disappointment.

My favourite is the American wife. Would defo recommend that to everyone!

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