Monday, April 18, 2016

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

The Story Sisters is the third book by Alice Hoffman that I have read and I don't know why I bothered. I didn't like the others that I read, but this one just sounded good. Oh, boy am I glad I didn't let the first two books influence me! I'm so happy I read this one.

The Story Sisters follows Elizabeth (Elv), Meg and Claire from the time they are little girls through early adulthood. The three sisters live with their mother in a beautiful home on Long Island, growing tomatoes in their garden and all three sleeping in the large attic bedroom so that they can all be together. Unfortunately, true to her style, Hoffman introduces an element of darkness early in the book and it follows the girls for the rest of the novel. As I reached this point, I seriously considered giving up on this book before it got worse (as I expected it would based on my past experience with her novels), but it was the storytelling that kept me reading. Elv is magnificently imaginative and she creates an entire fairy world, complete with its own language, that she shares with her sisters. I hate it when someone refers to a novel's "prose" because I generally feel like it sounds pretentious, but in this case there is no better description. The language is so lovely and the images conjured are beautiful and gripping and everything a reader could want.

This book is breathtaking and haunting and heartbreaking all at once. It has its moments that are enchanting, but it also has many that are ugly and awful. These sisters struggle and it is painful to watch, but as even the back of the book isn't afraid to let slip, they are redeemed in the end. This is the kind of book you will want to read late into the night and then it still won't be enough. I already feel the need to reread it and I think it would make an excellent book club book, perfect for discussion. Fair warning: arm yourself with tissues and don't read in public if you mind others seeing your ugly cry face. Yep, that happened to me.

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