The Story Sisters

The Story Sisters

by Alice Hoffman


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From the New York Times Bestselling
Author of The Third Angel

Alice Hoffman’s previous novel, The Third Angel, was hailed as "an unforgettable portrait of the depth of true love" (USA Today), "stunning" (Jodi Picoult), and "spellbinding" (Miami Herald). 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. 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).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307405968
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 06/01/2010
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 324,833
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

Alice Hoffman is the bestselling author of more than thirty acclaimed novels, including The Story Sisters, The Third Angel, The Ice Queen, Practical Magic, Here on Earth, The River King, and Skylight Confessions. She has also written two books of short stories, and eight books for children and young adults. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages and published in more than one hundred foreign editions.


Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

March 16, 1952

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Adelphi University, 1973; M.A., Stanford University, 1974

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


Once a year there was a knock at the door. Two times, then nothing. No one else heard, only me. Even when I was a baby in my cradle. My mother didn’t hear. My father didn’t hear. My sisters continued sleeping. But the cat looked up.

When I was old enough I opened the door. There she was. A lady wearing a gray coat. She had a branch from a hawthorn tree, the one that grew outside my window. She spoke, but I didn’t know her language. A big wind had come up and the door slammed shut. When I opened it again, she was gone.

But I knew what she wanted.


The one word I’d understood was daughter.

I asked my mother to tell me about the day I was born. She couldn’t remember. I asked my father. He had no idea. My sisters were too young to know where I’d come from. When the gray lady next came, I asked the same question. I could tell from the look on her face. She knew the answer. She went down to the marsh, where the tall reeds grew, where the river began. I ran to keep up. She slipped into the water, all gray and murky. She waited for me to follow. I didn’t think twice. I took off my boots. The water was cold. I went under fast.

It was April in New York City and from the window of their room at the Plaza Hotel everything looked bright and green. The Story sisters were sharing a room on the evening of their grandparents’ fiftieth anniversary party. Their mother trusted them completely. They were not the sort of teenagers who would steal from the minibar only to wind up drunk in the hallway, sprawled out on the carpet or nodding off in a doorway, embarrassing themselves and their families. They would never hang out the window to wave away cigarette smoke or toss water balloons onto unsuspecting pedestrians below. They were diligent, beautiful girls, well behaved, thoughtful. Most people were charmed to discover that the girls had a private, shared language. It was lovely to hear, musical. When they spoke to each other, they sounded like birds.

The eldest girl was Elisabeth, called Elv, now fifteen. Meg was only a year younger, and Claire had just turned twelve. Each had long dark hair and pale eyes, a startling combination. Elv was a disciplined dancer, the most beautiful in many people’s opinions, the one who had invented the Story sisters’ secret world. Meg was a great reader and was never without a book; while walking to school she often had one open in her hands, so engrossed she would sometimes trip while navigating familiar streets. Claire was diligent, kindhearted, never one to shirk chores. Her bed was made before her sisters opened their sleepy eyes. She raked the lawn and watered the garden and always went to sleep on time. All were self-reliant and practical, honor students any parents would be proud to claim as their own. But when the girls’ mother came upon them chattering away in that language no one else could understand, when she spied maps and graphs that meant nothing to her, that defined another world, her daughters made her think of clouds, something far away and inaccessible.

Annie and the girls’ father had divorced four years earlier, the summer of the gypsy moths when all of the trees in their yard were bare, the leaves chewed by caterpillars. You could hear crunching in the night. You could see silvery cocoon webbing in porch rafters and strung across stop signs. People said there were bound to be hard times ahead for the Storys. Alan was a high school principal, his schedule too full for many visits. He’d been the one who’d wanted out of the marriage, and after the split he’d all but disappeared. At the age of forty-seven, he’d become a ladies’ man, or maybe it was simply that there weren’t many men around at that stage of the game. Suddenly he was in demand. There was another woman in the background during the breakup. She’d quickly been replaced by a second girlfriend the Story sisters had yet to meet. But so far there had been no great disasters despite the divorce and all of the possible minefields that accompanied adolescence. Annie and her daughters still lived in the same house in North Point Harbor, where a big hawthorn tree grew outside the girls’ bedroom window. People said it had been there before Long Island was settled and that it was the oldest tree for miles around. In the summertime much of the Storys’ yard was taken up with a large garden filled with rows of tomato plants. There was a stone birdbath at the center and a latticework trellis that was heavy with climbing sweet peas and tremulous, prickly cucumber vines. The Story sisters could have had small separate bedrooms on the first floor, but they chose to share the attic. They preferred one another’s company to rooms of their own. When Annie heard them behind the closed door, whispering conspiratorially to each other in that secret vocabulary of theirs, she felt left out in some deep, hurtful way. Her oldest girl sat up in the hawthorn tree late at night; she said she was looking at stars, but she was there even on cloudy nights, her black hair even blacker against the sky. Annie was certain that people who said daughters were easy had never had girls of their own.

Today the Story sisters were all in blue. Teal and azure and sapphire. They liked to wear similar clothes and confuse people as to who was who. Usually they wore jeans and T-shirts, but this was a special occasion. They adored their grandmother Natalia, whom they called Ama, a name Elv had bestowed upon her as a toddler. Their ama was Russian and elegant and wonderful. She’d fallen in love with their grandfather in France. Although the Rosens lived on Eighty- ninth Street, they kept their apartment where Natalia had lived as a young woman in the Marais district of Paris, near the Place du Marché- Sainte-Catherine, and as far as the Story sisters were concerned, it was the most wonderful spot in the world.

Annie and the girls visited once a year. They were infatuated with Paris. They had dreams of long days filled with creamy light and meals that lasted long into the hazy blur of evening. They loved French ice cream and the glasses of blue-white milk. They studied beautiful women and tried to imitate the way they walked, the way they tied their scarves so prettily. They always traveled to France for spring vacation. The chestnut tree in the courtyard was in bloom then, with its scented white flowers.

The Plaza was probably the second-best place in the world. Annie went to the girls’ room to find her daughters clustered around the window, gazing at the horse-drawn carriages down below. From a certain point of view the sisters looked like women, tall and beautiful and poised, but they were still children in many ways, the younger girls especially. Meg said that when she got married she wanted to ride in one of those carriages. She would wear a white dress and carry a hundred roses. The girls’ secret world was called Arnelle. Arnish for rose was minta. It was the single word Annie understood. Alana me sora minta, Meg was saying. Roses wherever you looked.

“How can you think about that now?” Elv gestured out the window. She was easily outraged and hated mistreatment of any sort. “Those carriage horses are malnourished,” she informed her sister.

Elv had always been an animal fanatic. Years ago she’d found a rabbit, mortally wounded by a lawn mower’s blades, left to bleed to death in the velvety grass of the Weinsteins’ lawn. She’d tried her best to nurse it to health, but in the end the rabbit had died in a shoebox, covered up with a doll’s blanket. Afterward she and Meg and Claire had held a funeral, burying the shoebox beneath the back porch, but Elv had been inconsolable. If we don’t take care of the creatures who have no voice, she’d whispered to her sisters, then who will? She tried to do exactly that. She left out seeds for the mourning doves, opened cans of tuna fish for stray cats, set out packets of sugar for the garden moths. She had begged for a dog, but her mother had neither the time nor the patience for a pet. Annie wasn’t about to disrupt their home life. She had no desire to add another personality to the mix, not even that of a terrier or a spaniel.

Elv was wearing the darkest of the dresses, a deep sapphire, the one her sisters coveted. They wanted to be everything she was and traipsed after her faithfully. The younger girls were rapt as she ranted on about the carriage horses. “They’re made to ride around without food or water all day long. They’re worked until they’re nothing but skin and bones.”

“Skin and bones” was a favorite phrase of Elv’s. It got to the brutal point. The secret universe she had created was a faery realm where women had wings and it was possible to read thoughts. Arnelle was everything the human world was not. Speech was unnecessary, treachery out of the question. It was a world where no one could take you by surprise or tell you a mouthful of lies. You could see someone’s heart through his chest and know if he was a goblin, a mortal, or a true hero. You could divine a word’s essence by a halo of color—red was false, white was true, yellow was the foulest of lies. There were no ropes to tie you, no iron bars, no stale bread, no one to shut and lock the door.

Elv had begun to whisper Arnelle stories to her sisters during the bad summer when she was eleven. It was hot that August; the grass had turned brown. In other years summer had been Elv’s favorite season—no school, long days, the bay only a bicycle ride away from their house on Nightingale Lane. But that summer all she’d wanted was to lock herself away with her sisters. They hid in their mother’s garden, beneath the trailing pea vines. The tomato plants were veiled by a glinting canopy of bottle-green leaves. The younger girls were eight and ten. They didn’t know there were demons on earth, and Elv didn’t have the heart to tell them. She brushed the leaves out of her sisters’ hair. She would never let anyone hurt them. The worst had already happened, and she was still alive. She couldn’t even say the words

for what had happened, not even to Claire, who’d been with her that day, who’d managed to get away because Elv had implored her to run.

When she first started to tell her sisters stories, she asked for them to close their eyes and pretend they were in the otherworld. It was easy, she said. Just let go of this world. They’d been stolen by mortals, she whispered, given a false family. They’d been stripped of their magic by the charms humans used against faeries: bread, metal, rope. The younger girls didn’t complain when their clothes became dusted with dark earth as they lay in the garden, although Meg, always so tidy, stood in the shower afterward and soaped herself clean. In the real world, Elv confided, there were pins, spindles, beasts, fur, claws. It was a fairy tale in reverse. The good and the kind lived in the otherworld, down twisted lanes, in the woods where trout lilies grew. True evil could be found walking down Nightingale Lane. That’s where it happened.

They were coming home from the bay. Meg had been sick so she’d stayed home. It was just the two of them. When the man in the car told Claire to get in the backseat, she did. She recognized him from school. He was one of the teachers. She was wearing her bathing suit. It was about to rain and she thought he was doing them a favor. But he started driving away before her sister got into the car. Elv ran alongside and banged on the car door, yelling for him to let her sister out. He stopped long enough to grab her and drag her inside, too. He stepped on the gas, still holding on to Elv. “Reunina lee,” Elv said. It was the first time she spoke Arnish. The words came to her as if by magic. By magic, Claire understood. I came to rescue you.

At the next stop sign, Claire opened the door and ran.

Arnelle was so deep under the ground you had to descend more than a thousand steps. There were three sisters there, Elv had told Claire. They were beautiful and loyal, with pale eyes and long, black hair.

“Like us,” Claire always said, delighted.

If they concentrated, if they closed their eyes, they could always find their way back to the otherworld. It was beneath the tall hawthorn tree in the yard, beneath the chestnut tree in Paris. Two doorways no one else could get past. No one could hurt you there or tear you into pieces. No one could put a curse on you or lock you away. Once you went down the underground stairs and went through the gate there were roses even when snow fell in the real world, when the drifts were three feet deep.

Most people were seized by the urgency of Elv’s stories, and her sisters were no exception. At school, classmates gathered round her at lunchtime. She never spoke about Arnelle to anyone but her dear sisters, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have stories to tell. For her school friends she had tales of life on earth, stories of demons she didn’t want her sisters to hear. A demon usually said three words to put a curse on you. He cut you three times with a knife. Elv could see what the rest of them never could. She had “the sight,” she said. She predicted futures for girls in her history and math classes. She scared the hell out of some of them and told others exactly what they wanted to hear. Even in Paris when she went to visit her grandparents, the city was filled with demons. They prowled the streets and watched you as you slept. They came in through the window like black insects drawn to the light. They put a hand over your mouth, kept your head under water if you screamed. They came to get you if you ever dared tell and turned you to ash with one touch.

Each day, the number of girls who gathered around Elv in the cafeteria increased. They circled around to hear her intoxicating tales, told with utter conviction. Demons wore black coats and thick- soled boots. The worst sort of goblin was the kind that could eat you alive. Just a kiss, miss. Just a bite.

What People are Saying About This

Jodi Picoult

"When it comes to blending magic and the mundane routines of life, there's no finer writer than Alice Hoffman -- but even she has outdone herself with her latest novel. THE STORY SISTERS hearkens back to the classic fairy tale, where one must suffer fear and loss before stumbling upon a happy ending. Hoffman reminds us with every sentence that words have the power to transport us to alternate worlds, to heal a broken heart, and to tie us irrevocably to the people we love."--(Jodi Picoult, author of Handle With Care)

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The Story Sisters 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 143 reviews.
1Katherine1 More than 1 year ago
I have loved all of Alice Hoffman's books, I've been reading her for years and years. This book is mature, full of great beauty and of sadness, like life. The sadness is the lesson that people who victimize children not only hurt the children but all the people around them, for years to come. The beauty, the strong point in all Hoffman's books is finding magic in nature, in spirit, and the people around us. I hope this one wins her the Pulitzer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Honestly, this is one of my favorite books! I don't understand why everyone is saying it left them feeling sad, because I did not find the ending to be that way. I found it hopeful. Feel free to disagree!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's Elizabeth Berg meets Jodi Picoult with a touch of haunting plot twists. This book was so disturbing that, when I got to a particular part on the book with yet ANOTHER reference to animal abuse, I threw it in the recycling bin. I didn't even want to donate it or pass it along. This made my nighttime reading habit very dismal, and I found it depressing. From a literary standpoint, however, Alice Hoffman addresses head-on the permanent consequences of temporary acts, and she delves into the behavioral changes and emotional tumult of a family in crisis with startling precision.
Pat3 More than 1 year ago
This is the best book that I have read in over a year. I couldn't put this book down and, when I wasn't reading it, I kept thinking about the characters. This is a very real and believable story. It is one of those books that you read and you know that you will always remember the characters.
ReaderIam More than 1 year ago
Alice Hoffman weaves an imaginative story. Elv, Meg and Clare are wonderful characters, distinctive in their own stories as they grow up. Elv and Clare are forever bonded by something terrible that happens which cause Elv to pull apart from her family which seems to be the only way she can deal with it. Hoffman is trully a wonderful writer in that she is able to weave a mystical quality into her stories. Happy ending don't always happen no matter how much you want them to. I also loved how the grandmother is the hero as all grandmother's show grace and patience through their experience. This was a great book and I reccomend it to anyone who is a Hoffman fan. It will not disappoint.
DarkAndTwisty More than 1 year ago
I haven't read anything by Alice Hoffman before, but I plan to after reading this. From the first chapter, I could not put it down. I am very hard to please when it comes to books (being an English literature and Creative Writing major will do that...) and very rarely find a book that impresses me so much. The writing syle was remarkable, language fresh, and so original. You must read this book!
RhiannanTH More than 1 year ago
Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors and I have read all of her books over and over again, even the young adult books. Unfortunately, this book, The Story Sisters did not provide the right entertainment for me. All through the book I kept asking myself, Why am I still reading this? It was sad and dark. Her characters were wonderful especially when the three sisters were young and then it took a dark turn after the first 100 pages. I wanted a read that left me feeling hope and goodness prevailed. I was, instead, left sad and depressed. I gave it three stars for writing and originality.
Candelize More than 1 year ago
I'm a adament reader of Hoffman's books and she still doesn't disappoint. Far from it. The Story Sisters is yet another story that reminds me why Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors. The way she writes and weaves and paints the story is literally a work of art. I found that even though the three sisters are different, each of them had traits that I could relate too. It shows how even the people you love do both great and horrible things and the realistic fight to still love them. After everything that happened, the ending was very satisfying. Well, I'm off to find another Alice Hoffman book. Cheers.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Alice Hoffman is an author known for her novels filled with magical touches. Her latest, The Story Sisters, continues that, when a magical world created by three sisters collides with the reality of the world in which we all exist. Elizabeth, called Elv, Meg and Claire Story live with their mother in a small town on Long Island. Their parents are in the middle of a bad divorce, and it has affected the girls deeply. When they were young children, Elv (whose nickname connotes the fairy-like elves) created a fairy tale world, Arnelle, which had its own language. It slightly concerned their mother Annie when they would continue to speak this language, even as they grew out of childhood. This fantasy world contrasts with the physical world in which they live. Annie has a large garden, and grows heirloom tomatoes. The girls are knowledgeable in all areas tomato. They love animals. Elv is artistic, attracted to painting and color. Meg is a voracious reader, and a very good student. They sleep in the same bedroom, and are each other's best friends. The horrors of the real world intrude on the girls of Arnelle when a bad man hurts Elv, who saves the younger Claire from his clutches. They never tell anyone about "the day the bad thing happened", not even Meg. This bad thing, and her reluctance to tell her mother, causes Elv to act out. Annie is struggling too, "she felt as if everything she did was in halves: half a mother, half a teacher, half a woman". In that one sentence, Hoffman articulates the feelings of so many women. Elv begins to believe "that evil repelled evil, while good collected it", and she is determined to become evil in order to expel it from her life. She uses drugs, becomes promiscuous, steals- everything a young woman with low self esteem does to dull her pain. Meg is angered by her sister's behavior, but Claire vows to remain loyal to Elv. Elv's behavior breaks the bonds of sisterhood she so tenderly nurtured. Hoffman uses imagery and metaphors so beautifully. When Elv saves a kitten thrown into a river, she tells Claire that she is haunted because she couldn't save a second kitten thrown in. Claire reminds her that it is important that she saved one, but Elv can't get over that she couldn't save the other, echoing the fact that she saved Claire once, but was unable to save herself. The author's writing hits home with the reader, as when following a death, Annie's cousin says,"Call me the minute you need something," she told Annie and Claire, but neither of them could think of a single thing they might need that anyone could possibly give them. Everyone who has lost someone knows that exact feeling. This is a moving, haunting novel that will make you cry. There is so much sadness, so many tragic things that happen, and we all know people about whom we say, "haven't they suffered enough?" About a good man who becomes involved with the Story family, Hoffman writes: "He stayed in the kitchen with the dog for a while. He covered his face and wept. When he was done, he patted Shiloh's head. This wasn't his house or his family or his dog, but it was his sorrow." Hoffman broke my heart with this beautiful story of how secrets can destroy, but ultimately about the power of love to redeem. I became deeply invested in her characters, and will not be able to get them out of my thoughts. It is so powerful, so moving, it is the best of what fiction is.
NYbookster More than 1 year ago
The Story Sisters is an unforgettable novel, half fairytale, half real life. I couldn't put it down. I rushed to get to the end and now I want to read it again, slowly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ihave read several of Hoffman's books. This was hard to follow and HATED the language garb the sisters spoke.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Story Sisters" is a wonderful book. Once you continue reading it, you become immediately sucked into the fantasy/real world of Elv, Meg, and Claire. The book is divided into 3 acts and it has an unexpected twist. It's great to read before you go to bed. I think everyone can relate to at least one of the three sisters in some way or another. The story explores all emotions from depression, sadness, love, and in the end, happiness. Probably the only flaw is that sometimes the dialogue between the characters is a little corny/over dramatic. Read it slowly to enjoy it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alice Hoffman knows exactly how to break my heart. I was drawn to this novel, in part because Hoffman is one of my favorite writers, but mainly because the subject of sisters hits so close to home for me. This novel is so beautifully written and the characters are vibrant and original. Watching each character meet her individual fate is heart wrenching, yet I couldn't put it down. This book reminded me that while the world is full of sadness, it is also full of small triumphs and that it is the small moments of happiness that make life worth living.
angelswing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Honestly, at first I didn't think I would, but it was so well written. What I especially liked was the way Hoffman weaves fantasy together with reality. It's a great read. I recommend it.
KinnicChick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book whose theme is redemption and forgiveness, it is a portrait of three sisters, Elisabeth (or Elv), the oldest, who after saving middle sister Claire from a tragedy during their youth, and then having to go through the tragedy herself as she through herself into harms way. Her life turned in a rather dark and difficult way as she lived under the weight of the secret from that day.Claire went through her own pain and guilt living with that secret and keeping the peace between Elv and middle sister Meg, who was not privy to the knowledge of the tragedy and was made to feel like and outsider from then on.Elv is an amazing story teller ¿ she needs the rich fantasy world in which to escape because of all of the pain she buries. The girls live with their single mother who does the best she can to raise them while their father is mostly absent, living with his younger wife.It was a beautifully told and fast read. But as a divorced mother to a dark and imaginative daughter myself, I think I need to steer clear of books about broken families for a while. They are causing me too much worry and pain.
Reader_Barbara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Story Sisters is an incredible tale of love, loss, tragedy and betrayal. It follows the lives of the Story Sisters: Elv, Meg & Claire and how each of their lives is impacted by a single tragedy which places each of them on the path to her destiny. Alice Hoffman's telling leads us into a dark world of sadness, depression, drug abuse and death. It is written so honestly and thoughtfully that the reader is drawn into the world of these sisters and feels their pain right along with them. This is an amazing work.I absolutely love Alice Hoffman & tend to devour her books rather quickly. This one, however, took me over a week to read. When I started it, the material was a little dark & disturbing, so I put it down, walked away & actually read another book before I came back to it. But, I did come back to it. I really wanted to know what happened to these girls and I cried several times while reading it. But, it was worth working through all the tragedy and heartbreak these girls face in order to see where they end up. As usual, I can't wait for the next Alice Hoffman to show up on my shelf.
loveread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The New York Times says it's Little Women on mushrooms and that tickled me. I love Alice Hoffman anyway, her novels and short stories, and The Story Sisters is good Hoffman, part magical real, part the awful greyness of the real world we live in. The Story sisters is a great read. If you love Hoffman you'll be reading it anyway.
bellaboozle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was memorizing and flowed very nicely. I generally abhor fiction but I could not put this lengthy one down. It's a coming-of-age story of three sisters dealing with trauma in each of their own ways. A mother's frustration and sadness, a child's stress and fear of horrid events and the challenges of sisterhood. In the end, they all find peace and Paris.
JudithAnnW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a book by Alice Hoffman yet that failed to enchant me, and The Story Sisters was no exception. It was beautifully written, with an underlying deeper message about love within a family, about youthful secrets than can affect an entire life, about growing beyond the pain and building a better life.Annie, the mother, grew past the pain of her divorce and even in the face of death was graced with a deeper love. Elv, the oldest of the Story sisters grew past the pain of a childhood trauma to discover the unconditional love that comes with being a parent.I also enjoyed the book because it delt with the fact that you can't always judge someone by their actions. What they do is a result of the way they feel inside. Very poetically written, I think this may be my favorite book by Alice Hoffman, and that is high praise indeed.
lauriebrown54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿The Story Sisters¿ is a grim tale. This family of three very close sisters, their divorced mother, and their maternal grandmother, can¿t catch a break. One bad thing happens after another; child rape, illness, accidents, deaths, self harm, alcoholism, drugs, self isolation and an almost total lack of communication shatters the family. And yet there are traces of magic, both good and bad. Demons attach themselves to young girls. Cakes make one tell only the truth. Some of the characters find happiness, although it¿s usually short lived. The novel has the feel of a fairy tale to it: the hero who accepts someone else¿s bad fate; the character who finds their teacher and calling almost magically; the wise old woman who sets people up for true love. Remember, the original fairy tales were very dark things, not the Disneyfied versions we have today. Hoffman¿s prose has its usual enchanting rhythm and flow, and the imagery is as exquisite as ever. But the pace is slower than most of her books, and I found it hard to feel for the characters. Despite their strong emotions the characters seemed rather flat- perhaps, though, this was deliberate as they do, after all, spend a lot of time withdrawing from the world and each other. Still, I stayed riveted to the book.
DowntownLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dark, tragic, and well written.
MJC1978 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am an Alice Hoffman fan in general, but some of her novels seem to linger with me more than others. The Story Sisters falls into that category.Hoffman is unparalleled in her ability to write such strong, interesting female characters. I found myself emotionally invested in each of the three sisters, but particularly with the struggles of the oldest and most troubled: Elv. Elv's struggles are the center of the book - she is the sun that everyone rotates around. When she gets knocked off course, those around her are also launched into turmoil.Never one to leave things black and white, Hoffman writes in shades of grey. Nothing is ever quite as it seems, and Hoffman's worlds are often filled with a magic and dreaminess. I'm hooked.If you're considering giving this author a try, I'd recommend this or Pratical Magic to start. You will not be disappointed.
ACQwoods on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I chose to read this because I had enjoyed another of Alice Hoffman's books, The Probable Future. The Story Sisters was even better. It's the tale of the three Story sisters and the world they weave for themselves as they grow up and deal with life changing events. The story is haunting and cobwebbed with fantasy that feels completely real. The characters are all well developed and I was completely entranced from start to finish. While the main focus is on the girls' emotional development, the plot is strong and often surprising.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started The Story Sisters yesterday afternoon and with a few breaks for sleep, finished it this morning. I was hesitant to read this now, though I am a long-time reader of Hoffman's work, because of the recent criticism surrounding the author. I am glad I did not wait. This book grabbed me from the beginning and kept me spellbound until the end. The main character is Elv, the oldest sister, who was abducted and molested at age 11 after saving her sister Claire from the fate meant for her. Elv tells no one, instead she creates an imaginary world, Arnelle, with her sisters, and Arnish, their own secret language. To Elv, it is a world of good and kind, unlike the real world which is haunted by demons. Eventually Elv begins to look for the darkness in her secret world and the real one, to confront her fears. She begins doing drugs, cutting herself and shutting out her sister, Meg, who is unaware of what happened to Elv. Claire is caught between the two sisters but eventually pulls away from Elv as she sinks deeper into destruction. Elv's choices then impact the girls lives throughout the novel.Hoffman's prose is lyrical and beautiful as usual, though this novel is darker than her others. It is also heartbreaking and moving, destructive and redeeming, and will stay with you long after you finish.My rating: 4 starsI wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to Hoffman's works but to anyone acquainted with her style of writing.
ATechwreck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hoffman's gift with language takes the reader on a heartbreaking journey through the ramifications of child molestation. We are introduced to three sisters, all beautiful, gifted and initially reminiscent of the March sisters in Little Women. The sisters share a secret language and two share deeper and darker secrets as well.