75 Book Challenge · Adult Fiction · Books · Reviews · Young Adult Fiction

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman ~ A Review

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman ~ A Review 

Illustrated by: N/A

Published: HarperPress 2010

Edition: Paperback

Length: 325 pages

Genre: Adult Fiction, YA, Mystery, Magical Realism, Contemporary, Fantasy

Where Did I Get It? As a birthday present 🙂

Summary (from Goodreads): 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. It confirms Alice Hoffman’s reputation as “a writer whose keen ear for the measure struck by the beat of the human heart is unparalleled” (The Chicago Tribune).

Opening Line(s):

Once a year there was a knock at the door. Two times, then nothing.


My Review: The Story Sisters was an experience. For the first half of the book I was baffled and felt like I had accidentally ingested some sort of hallucinogenic as you saw the world through the Story Sisters’ eyes mixed in with their collective imaginary world Arnelle. They spoke in their own language as well in English and believed in whimsical things like fairies and demons and goblins. 

The book clatters along in this intriguing and overwhelming manner following the sisters as they grow up, Elv, the eldest in particular. She falls further into Arnelle than the other sisters, especially after something unspeakable happens to her in the back of a car and twists her mind entirely. She stops seeing the good in both world and starts to see the evil everywhere, she embraces it and slowly, as far as you can tell, slowly goes mad.

Which turns out to be the least of the Story Sisters’ problems.

The characters in The Story Sisters are clear and well rounded, even in the most confusing sections where reality is distorted through their emotions. The relationships are strong and unnervingly honest, echoing with true emotions – love, fear, hatred, guilt, despair – taking you on a rollercoaster ride through their life.

It is not a happy story but it is not so depressing that you put it down.

I really enjoyed reading it and it certainly left me thinking about a lot of things however I don’t think it is for everyone.

Elv’s reality is a harsh one, Meg’s a lonely one and Claire’s is full of fear and guilt. They are so close they are practically one entity until suddenly they fall apart and the balance between them is shattered.

You keep hoping it will be fixed but, much as in life, when something breaks into tiny pieces it is almost impossible to put back together without bits missing.

Some of the parts that they lose are bigger than others.

A haunting read that crosses boundaries between contemporary and fantasy. Read with tissues to hand!

My Rating: 4/5*

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