The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

I’ve read a few books by AH and I really like her writing style.  She manages to conjure up such wonderful images of the people and the places in which they live and her books always have an ‘other world’ type of feel to them.

This book focuses on the relationship between three sisters and the profound impact they have on each other’s lives.  The story takes you through the three girls lives from being early teens through to their 30s.  At the start of the story the three sisters Elv, Meg and Claire have a very close bond, they spend all their time together, don’t have any particular friends and have in fact even developed their own special language (Arnish) which they sit upstairs whispering to each other in their attic bedroom.  Elv is the eldest and most beautiful although the other two are by no means unattractive.  The girls live with their mother Annie who has separated from her husband.

Fairly soon into the story the girl’s relationship starts to fracture, this seems to be as a result of a number of things.  Elv and Claire have formed a strong bond as a result of an incident when Elv saved Claire from abduction (and was actually abducted herself as a result).  This incident is never talked about and the mother of the girls never finds anything out about this – in fact Meg is also in the dark about what happened and so she probably doesn’t really understand why they have become so close – and why she seems to be excluded.  Eventually, petty jealousies between Meg and Elv turn into hatred with both of them vying for the attention of Claire.  Elv, understandably given the trauma she has been through suffers huge emotional turmoil and starts to spin out of control.

This is such a sad story and yet told so beautifully that it is quite captivating.  There is such a lot of darkness and despondency and yet throughout there are elements of fantasy woven in. This is what I really like about AH – the way she manages to take a story that frankly is so emotional and yet make it magical at the same time.

I suppose in writing a novel with such a wide scope it is difficult to focus equally on all the characters.  I think Elv is perhaps focused on a little too much and the mother Annie barely gets a mention and is almost transparent.  Also, the ending felt a little short. That aside I would recommend this book – I wouldn’t say it was a joy to read because of the subject matter involved but it was a very quick read in that I didn’t want to put it down a great deal.

Rating -A

The Story Sisters

The Story Sisters

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