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Book Review

‘Sisterland’ is a tale of two


BookCourtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Sally Wisdom

Random House

June 25, 2013


CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

416 Pages

Curtis Sittenfeld’s fourth novel centers on a pair of identical twins whose personalities appear on the surface to have little in common. Daisy and Violet grow up in suburban St. Louis with uncanny psychic abilities they suspect were inherited from their hypercritical and chronically depressed mother. Daisy, more than anything, just wants to be conventional, while the audacious Violet strives to be anything but.

The story is told from the perspective of Daisy who actively attempts to suppress her “senses.” At the University of Missouri, she discards the name Daisy in favor of Kate, a shortened version of her middle name, Kathleen. After college, she marries almost-too-good-to-be-true Jeremy, a Washington University Earth Sciences professor and eventually becomes the stay-at-home mother of two small children. Violet drops out of Reed College her first semester and returns to St. Louis to work a series of restaurant jobs. She fully embraces her powers and eventually is able to earn a living of sorts as a psychic after she (and Kate, anonymously) helps to solve a kidnapping.

When Violet predicts an earthquake will hit St. Louis. Kate is embarrassed by her flamboyant sister and mortified by the sneers from Jeremy’s scientist colleagues. Secretly, she harbors the sense that Violet is right, and she can’t escape their inexplicable bond.

When the date of the predicted earthquake arrives, events transpire that are Earth-shattering for everyone involved. Through a series of flashbacks, the novel weaves together seemingly unrelated details to create characters who are easy to envision even when their actions are hard to understand. CV

Sally Wisdom spent 32 years as a librarian at the Des Moines Public Library, retiring as Deputy Director in 2011. She lives in Windsor Heights and was lucky enough to find post-retirement employment at Beaverdale Books.

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