Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Alice's Review: The Story Sisters

Summary: Alice Hoffman’s new novel, The Story Sisters, charts the lives of three sisters – Elv, Claire, and Meg. Each has a fate she must meet alone: one on a country road, one in the streets of Paris, and one in the corridors of her own imagination. Inhabiting their world are a charismatic man who cannot tell the truth, a neighbor who is not who he appears to be, a clumsy boy in Paris who falls in love and stays there, a detective who finds his heart’s desire, and a demon who will not let go. What does a mother do when one of her children goes astray? How does she save one daughter without sacrificing the others? How deep can love go, and how far can it take you? These are the questions this luminous novel asks.  At once a coming-of-age tale, a family saga, and a love story of erotic longing, The Story Sisters sifts through the miraculous and the mundane as the girls become women and their choices haunt them, change them and, finally, redeem them. ~amazon.com

Review:  This isn’t a book review as much as an essay about love.  I loved this novel.  LOVED.  I have had a love affair with Alice Hoffman’s books since reading Practical Magic in the late 90s.  There is always something so personal, so raw and revealing in her characters.  I really enjoy how they don’t show themselves from the beginning, they make you earn their trust, showing their true selves only to those who they deem worthy.  I never know what I’m going to get when I start one of her novels.  I do know that I haven’t been disappointed yet.  The Story Sisters is no different.

I couldn’t put this novel down.  The last few novels I read, although good, had me wishing for the ending to come.  I wanted a resolution.  Not this one.  The Story Sister made me want to keep reading forever.  I felt genuine sadness when the story was over.  I wanted to continue exploring their world where these sisters were greater than the sorrow they experienced.  There is so much sadness and anguish in this novel, but it’s a welcomes sadness.  As a reader you know Elv, Meg and Claire have to experience this much unhappiness in order to transition into peace.   

Although this novel focused on the three Story sisters, the two unsung heroes are Annie, the girls’ mother, and Natalia, the girls’ grandmother.  Although their roles are small, their love carries Elv, Meg and Claire through the heartache they are forced to endure.  This novel is dark.  It evokes gut wrenching sadness that stays with you long after you put the book down.  But it was unlike any other Alice Hoffman novel I have read in the past.  There was a clear line defined between real and fantasy.  It still held all the magic of her previous novels.  The difference with The Story Sisters is that it had realism about it.  It wasn’t magic that ruled Elv, it was addiction and avoidance.  It’s what tore the sisters apart. 

The Story Sisters is so well rounded.  There was so much substance with many subplots, however it was never confusing or reaching.  And it has some of the best pearls about love I’ve read in a long time.

“In the world of sorrow, love was an act of will.  All you needed were the right ingredients.”

“That was the way love was, invisible, there whether or not you wanted to see it or admit it.”

“Maybe some love was guaranteed.  Maybe it fit inside you and around you like skin and bones. “

This is the best novel I have read so far this year.  I simply loved it.

Final Take: 5/5



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