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

(111 Posts)
TillyBookClub Wed 15-Jan-14 11:43:46

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.

MimsyBorogroves Thu 16-Jan-14 16:48:03


Very excited about this one - 'Prep' is one of my favourite books.

mmack Mon 20-Jan-14 23:09:15

I really enjoyed it too. It made me feel like a teenager again. I'm keeping it to give to my daughter when she's a bit older. I liked the way the rich students were fully-drawn characters and not the stereotypes you get in teen movies and Disney programmes.

AliceMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 21-Jan-14 12:07:07

This giveaway is now closed. We will notify those who have been selected to win a free copy via email. If you weren't successful, buy the book, discuss it here and post a question to author Curtis Sittenfeld for our webchat in March.

gailforce1 Sat 25-Jan-14 19:26:59

Really pleased to receive e mail saying I have a free copy on the way, looking forward to this read! Thank you MN.

Highfivethatfart Sat 25-Jan-14 20:09:34

I'm a winner too! Looking forward to reading it.

DuchessofMalfi Fri 31-Jan-14 12:12:18

My copy arrived this morning. Thank you smile Looking forward to getting started shortly.

minimuffin Sat 01-Feb-14 17:03:41

Thanks so much for my copy - really looking forward to reading it. Haven't read any of Curtis's previous work but I've thought I should for a while, and now I have no excuse!

lalamumto3 Tue 04-Feb-14 10:49:32

Thanks for my copy, it arrived on Friday and was read by Sunday. I loved it and will post review.

Thanks again

CreepyLittleBat Tue 04-Feb-14 20:17:19

Thank you for my copy! I am about half way through. I thought it started slowly, and find Kate a strange choice of POV character, but it's definitely a page-turner. I'm hoping for some twists to disprove my plot predictions.....

NoWomanNoCry Wed 05-Feb-14 10:41:00

Thank you for my copy, I'm really excited to read this. When finished I will post a review.

tinxibelle Wed 05-Feb-14 21:17:20

Well just got it so time to start, hope I like it as lost for book inspiration at the minute. Love the book club idea. Do you have a goodreads group too ?
Thanks all x

CheesyBadger Sun 09-Feb-14 12:44:05

This is the first Curtis Sittenfeld book I have read and I am really enjoying it so far. I love the characters and am thoroughly drawn in!

cathlittle Sun 09-Feb-14 20:52:33

It's the first I've read too - it's certainly got an interesting premise. I'm about half way through and am enjoying it! Thank you for the copy and I'll post a review when finished...

Dillydollydaydream Mon 10-Feb-14 19:10:10

Thanks for my copy of Sisterland.
I've never read a book by Curtis Sittenfeld before so wasn't sure what to expect especially as the story involves psychic abilities.
It took me a little while to get into the book and there was quite a bit of writing about general day to day routine stuff which was a bit much at times but overall the storyline was good and I did mostly enjoy the book.

sparkysparkysparky Mon 10-Feb-14 19:22:16

Question for Curtis (SPOILER ALERT):
I enjoyed the book. The twins were completely convincing in the choices they made. You gave the question of race a very light touch and this was the only area that I felt needed more. Kate's decision to tell her husband seemed motivated solely by Hank being a black man. Did you consider giving Hank and Jeremy the same heritage?

CreepyLittleBat Tue 11-Feb-14 09:04:38

I finished Sisterland last night and have to admit that it's not the kind of book I'd usually go for. The subject matter and cover image said "reading group book" to me but the quote on the cover about it being a page-turner is certainly true. I was often up way too late into the night muttering "just another page...just another two pages"!

I said upthread that I hoped my plot predictions were going to be disproved, but I was a bit disappointed when the Kate-Hank story played out pretty straightforwardly. Nice touch at the end with the possibility of Gabe having the senses though - I thought that even if it was a bit predictable, that was lightly done and well written.
On the subject of the senses, this could easily have been far fetched, but I thought it was well handled and believable. The story about the sisters helping to find Brady Ogden was great, and I wished I could read that book!

I was wondering early on in the book if we'd get multiple viewpoints, and wish we had really, as I found Kate a dull character. On the other hand, she had deliberately made herself into that person in order to escape the oddity of her childhood. I would have liked to have the point of view of Courtney, Vi, Jeremy or Stephanie. (Hank was a bit too nice for me)

I found Kate very irritating when she felt it necessary to tell us (for example) she only had one beer a day and one coffee while breastfeeding, but I can see that it was setting her up as strait-laced only to break that image later on. An annoying narrator is hard to get past though!

I found the little girl Rosie beautifully written, and very authentic. The endearing things she said and did were not sickeningly twee as in some books, but had the ring of truth.

I enjoyed Sisterland, and would probably look out for other Curtis Sittenfeld books in the library. I've already recommended it to a friend. Thank you smile

PenelopeLane Tue 11-Feb-14 09:13:16

Possible spoiler alert

I enjoyed this book, although being from NZ where we have a lot of earthquakes I struggled with the idea that quite so many people would believe one person's prediction. I guess that's because there was a case of someone predicting earthquakes here, he's known as the Moon Man and has been publicly ridiculed. While some people may believe what he says, most people don't and no-one has really changed their routines based on his predictions, unlike in the book. So while the book was well enough written that I could suspend disbelief and enjoy the idea of the sisters being able to see the future, I couldn't quite quite believe that Vi would have received the attention that she did.

NoWomanNoCry Tue 11-Feb-14 12:56:01

I'm surprised. I really enjoyed 'Sisterland'! The book was very detailed and somewhat slow in places but it still had me turning the pages desperate to know how it was going to end up. I was very interested in the twins and their "links". It was beautifully written and will certainly make me look out for more of Curtis Sittenfeld's books in the future. Thank you for my free copy.

chris69 Tue 11-Feb-14 15:52:35

Really enjoyed this book,kept me enthralled until the last page! Initially I wasn't quite sure if the book would be for me, but I found it to be a realistic gritty read about relationships between partners, sisters,friends, parents,and your children and being torn between them all.
Thanks for the copy Mumsnet I would read more from this Author.

ktlq Wed 12-Feb-14 16:21:40


I've just finished Sisterland - thank you Mumsnet - and I have to be brutally honest that I can't see how comparisons to Donna Tartt and other literary authors are justified. Firstly, I think readers will find some of the minute detail like which medicine a child is taking, quite laborious. The detail of life with children is probably not what Mumsnet readers are after - well, I wasn't! Unless it's very cleverly observed, humorous or something you can relate to, like AM Homes, Maria Semple or Sarah Moss, but I felt this wasn't.

I found Kate's perfect mum act all a bit much, and it was a relief when she went off piste, yet so unsatisfactory. She became an even bigger victim. Vi was totally irritating, taking hand outs from family and being so unhelpful with her niece and nephew. But all the while, I was expecting a big reveal to redeem all of this. A really big reveal. It didn't come. Boo.

The book dips in and out of bigger issues like child abduction (this was the most gripping story line for me but again, undeveloped), earthquakes, race and working mums. But the issues are handled with a very niche American voice, and that's just it, I felt unable to relate. Kate is self-righteous and ridiculously judgemental. I know she is 'good twin', but have I missed the point or is she meant to be so irritating?! She needs to cut herself a massive break.

So my question to the author is this: Why does Hank text 'Just want to confirm there's nothing we should discuss...' when clearly he has just found out about the big P and he's done the math. His text sounds like he thinks there is something to discuss. And he just leaves it there....? After all we've heard about him wanting a second child and how much he relates to Kate etc. Why?

Ok, sorry for my harsh review, I really wanted to like this more...

gailforce1 Thu 13-Feb-14 08:45:05

Thank you for my free copy. Looking forward to starting today!

annieg21 Thu 13-Feb-14 14:38:48

Sisterland tells the story of identical twins Violet and Daisy who may share the same DNA but are worlds apart in terms of personality and outlook. It becomes obvious early in their lives that the twins possess a psychic `gift' and as they grow into adolescents and adults, Daisy (who now goes by her middle name, Kate) chooses to play down her talent in order to live a quiet life with her geology professor husband. Violet on the other hand embraces it with gusto and carves a moderately successful career for herself as a medium, finding fame when she helps the police to locate a kidnapped child. The seemingly perfect family life Kate has built for herself starts to fracture when Violet predicts that their home town of St Louis will be devastated by an earthquake on 16 October 2009. The media goes wild and Violet is once again enjoying the limelight, but not everyone in her family is happy about it.

The story is narrated by Kate in chapters which alternate between the present day (with Violet's earthquake prediction) and flashbacks to their earlier lives. The main character is believable, her actions are irritating at times and not always understandable, but overall I liked `flawed' Kate much more than the `perfect' version of herself which she chose to present to the world. Violet is also very well defined as a character, annoying but also endearingly vulnerable. The issue of the women's psychic abilities isn't dealt with in any real depth; for me the book was more of an examination of family relationships, the impact of rash decisions and the legacy of betrayal.

It's an interesting novel which may not be fast-paced or action-packed enough for some readers, and it does seem to go into a lot of unnecessary detail quite often (do we really need to know what they have for breakfast each day!) but overall I quite enjoyed it.

htinkler Thu 13-Feb-14 22:51:38

This was my first Curtis Sittenfeld book, so I had no expectations. It was a little slow in places. I was a little disappointed with the Kate and Hank outcome and felt the end seemed to rush through a lot - I felt the author had thought 'I need to get this book finished'. But overall an easy read, and some likeable characters (I especially like violet!)

SarahAndFuck Sun 16-Feb-14 22:52:40

I didn't win a copy of Sisterland but I did buy a copy last week and finished it today. I did enjoy it, so much so that yesterday I went out to buy American Wife and Prep as well and am reading (and enjoying) Prep now.

I admit I was expecting the book to be harder to read, less accessible than it was, so I was pleasantly surprised to get hooked from the start.


I have to agree that the ending felt a little rushed. Given that most of the book is building up to the date of the earthquake it felt very odd to take such a sudden turn into the issues of Hank being suspected of kidnapping and then Kate being unfaithful and her dilemma about telling Jeremy and keeping the baby.

Given that she had a premonition about two white babies, I thought it odd that she didn't know the paternity of the baby herself when the time came.

And I was interested in their father being the parent they inherited their senses from.

The question I would like to ask is, why did you make Kate and Violet identical twins rather than just siblings?

I wondered if it were because some people believe twins do have senses or abilities, at least towards each other? Or if their identical appearance helped to show the differences between their lives and their choices more than anything else did.

I'm also very interested in ktiq's question, although I suspected that the reason Hank didn't push the issue was because he didn't really want to know the answer and was able to avoid it in a way Kate obviously couldn't, especially as Kate and Jeremy were moving away. Now he can tell himself that he did at least do the right thing and ask, and he doesn't have to rock the boat with Courtney and Amelia.

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