St Louis Insight: Sisterland

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

Kate and Violet are twins with the hidden gift of ‘senses’. Kate has settled comfortably into family life and has chosen to ignore her senses. Violet leads a more free spirited and unconventional life and is still guided by her ‘Guardian’. One day Violet predicts an earthquake in St Louis and sparks a media storm. As the novel follows the countdown to the predicted earthquake, Kate’s relationships with and her sister, her father, family and neighbourhood friends are examined.

First Impressions: I immediately liked the tone of this novel as it flowed along nicely. I stopped worrying if it would be a chore finishing all 500+ pages.

Highlights: As someone who appreciates a good setting, I loved the fact it was set in St Louis, a town I know little about. I now know the St Louis Arch is a famous landmark! It is a refreshing change to the overcrowded New York and LA settings. This is one reason I have been a huge fan of both Breaking Bad and The Lying Game, two completely different shows, but that is a discussion for another day.

Missouri is also described as the northern most southern state, the southern most northern state, the eastern most western state and the western most eastern state. I liked this and I think it is a metaphor for the way Kate is torn between so many people and situations.

The final final climatic scenario is also gripping but I will not reveal if the earthquake occurs! Sittenfeld also includes some wry and entertaining comments throughout the novel that are so subtle you almost miss them if you are not an astute reader.

If I was an editor: I would comment that while the story chugs along nicely, most of the time I was confused with regards to the main point of the novel. I liked the final chapter but I still didn’t know if all the different narrative strands directly contributed to the ending. It is definitely a novel big in scope yet the author manages to keep it quite domestic in setting. I felt that the relationships lacked warmth, particularly the relationship with neighbourly friends Hank and Courtney. However, when I recall American Wife, a novel I just adored, I think this may be the author’s style. She keeps this style consistent throughout.

Overall: I’m glad I stuck with this to the end. Sittenfeld really ups the tempo.

Sisterland: 4 stars

Thank you to Random House for an ARC copy of the title to review.

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