The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman



I followed the controversy regarding Alice Hoffman's Twitter response to what she considered a spoiler review of her novel The Story Sisters (2009) with interest. Read my blog entry on that topic here.

Then I let the book sit for a while before doing my own reading. I like to form my own opinions, and I knew I was running a 50/50 with this book because when Hoffman is "on," she's the best. When she's not, she's awful.

I put The Story Sisters in the awful category. And I would suggest a different editor for future books because, not only was the story all over the place in a most distracting manner, paragraphs also routinely changed focus at random. So, I can't even say "well-written," not even close. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was someone's first novel, even, instead of the product of a very successful veteran author.

From the publisher, as per Barnes & Noble.com:

Her 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.


To be honest, I didn't feel a whole lot of redemption, and the novel covers an awful lot of very long years from beginning to end. Too little, too late to engage this reader. As for the "love story," please save me from ever experiencing that kind of dysfunctional, self-destructive "love." And to say that I despised Elv and found Claire annoying probably tells you that I lacked a character that I even cared about in the story.

My overall personal rating of The Story Sisters is a C-.

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