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Jo6353
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

2 stars

Confusing & Disappointing

I felt the beginning was slow and boring with too much discussion of moths. I realize that there were some parallels between the moths and the family but not enough info was provided to keep the momentum of the book going. It picked up in the middle but then left a number of questions unanswered. Although this provides a good forum for discussion, I did not consider it a satisfying read.
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SandyS
Posts: 148
Registered: ‎12-28-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

4 stars
 
What Goes On In This House?
 
A little slow at starting but The Sister picks up speed.  This novel, told in four days, gives plenty of clues as to why the Stone family and its house have deteriorated.  An interesting read, even a psychological thriller of sorts, The Sister moves back and forth from the present to the past to unfold the story of why Vivien returns to the family home to live with her sister, Ginny, after a fifty year absence.  Interesting character development.  Good book for a bookclub discussion.
 
Other titles I'd recommend:  "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy, "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, "Wild Swans" by Jung Chang, "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert
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LeisaPS
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎01-03-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

3 ***
 
I was eager to begin this book -- my first arc from B&N and first time in an interactive online book club -- but had to put it down because I realized that I was reading it too early and too fast.  It had captured my interest from the very beginning -- but then I had to stop!
 
I read The Book of Negros  http://www.lawrencehill.com/the_book_of_negroes.html (excellent & 5 stars for this one!) and then turned back to The Sister starting over where I left off.  It seemed to have lost some of my interest in the meantime and the technical/scientific info about the moths almost made me want to put it down (downright gross in one chapter!)....but I try not to give up on any book, unless I really HAVE to, so I read on. 
 
My interest picked up and about two-thirds of the way through I wanted to find out what was going to happen in the end -- just where was this droll, sad, strange story going?!  I'm glad I stuck with the book -- the twist was unexpected -- but am also a little frustrated by some unanswered questions (also raised by many other readers).  I don't often analyse books -- I usually read for pleasure and to learn about things that I am interested in -- so it was a challenge to relate to the symbolism/metaphors other readers were discussing. 
 
All-in-all it was an interesting book, something I wouldn't normally read or pick off the library shelf where I work, so it was a good opportunity for me to try something different and get a taste of the busy, busy world of an online book club right here in my computer!  Thanks B&N and Poppy for this new experience and (I think) I look forward to trying it all again!
 
Leisa
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dumlao_n
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

5 stars. An amazing story around a dysfunctional family. The story keeps you thinking and guessing which makes this story a great mystery.
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readerbynight
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎09-07-2007
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Re: My Reviews of The Sister -- A totally unique story, hauntingly grabbing my attention

I rate this book at 5 stars.
This book is unique, very different from others I've read. I did enjoy it, and it did take me by surprise at the end of the book. To quote the first two lines of the book "It's ten to two in the afternoon and I've been waiting for my little sister, Vivi, since one-thirty. She's finally coming home, at sixty-six years old, after an absence of nearly fifty years." The story ostensibly takes place over 6 days, but is so full of flashbacks that it actually covers over 50 years.

Poppy Adams has put together a story told in the mind and perhaps faulty recollections of Virgina (Ginny), the older of two sisters. Ginny recalls the family as being happy and comfortable, but to her younger sister Vivien (Vivi) it appears the opposite. Ginny & Vivi are quite close until Vivi is serious hurt in a bad fall, which eventually is a catalyst for Vivi to move to London from the village where the family mansion was located. The book is a goldmine for anyone who has the least interest in lepidopterology (the study of moths & butterflies). Clive, the girls' father, is a renowned lepidologist and spends almost all his time involved in this, and trains Ginny to follow in his footsteps. It would appear the only constants in Ginny’s life, real or imagined, are time and moths. The whole story resembles a moth from cocoon to metamorphosis. Her attachment to time appears to me to be more symbolic.

There is something different about Ginny. She seems separated from life, or from living life. She has the ability to escape within herself to avoid learning about life or living in it. Her sister Vivi is the opposite. Ginny appears to be withdrawn, but it is much more than that. For a child witnessing it so young in her father’s lab, perhaps the innate cruelty of studying and experimenting with moths is one of the reasons Ginny does not really develop emotionally. But do we ever really know her? Does she know herself? Throughout most of the book I felt like I understood her “oddities”. The whole family seems to coddle Ginny, especially her mother Maude, who is her refuge. But eventually Maude is no longer able to handle the distancing of her husband and as Ginny gets more involved with her father’s work, she becomes more distant too. Maude is left virtually alone in the huge house as the others spend their time locked away in the lab or out hunting moths. This is a bad turning point for Maude and for Ginny. At this point the feel of the book also changes and the reader begins to realize that they quite possibly don't understand any of the characters. As Maude sinks deeper & deeper into her own nightmare world of depression and alcoholism, the whole family begins to fall apart. I began to think I didn't really know if anyone was as they seemed. Maude's questionable death only adds impetus to the disintegration of all their lives.

I am left with wondering just who, if anyone, was responsible for Maude's death. Everything turns around and I can only speculate. I think the important thing to remember in tying up the loose ends, is that the story is told from Ginny's mind. I think the symbolism is the only way to try to get at the truth. One of the few constants throughout the book is time, a brilliant, Hitchcock-type of background. I almost heard the ticking in the background! I couldn’t garner the answers from Ginny's mind, it functions in a radically different way. I am not even persuaded now in thinking back that she was involved with the research following Clive's demise at all. Even arthritic as she was, her mind tells her that she is a famous lepedopterist, so I can't see her letting the condition of the lab deteriorate to such a degree. She doesn't even seem to have known of its condition yet she was planning on showing her research to the entomologists. This would only make sense if she believed they would never be coming.

I felt I was so deep into the mind of Ginny that I began to find it difficult to separate what is true and what is fantasy. Was she as brilliant as we have been led to believe? I don't know. At one point I thought she may have had the savant syndrome with autism, but her brilliance may have been in her own mind. And therein lies the paradox. Perhaps the author intended to leave questions unanswered but hinted at, to keep us trying to put our own slant on what has been happening all along. It makes for quite an interesting way of reading.

The use of one clock in her room at the end of the book is again symbolic, she is in an orderly world and does not have to be connected to anyone, even Helen, who is there but not a threat A well-written book, but not at all easy to describe. The more I return to the book the more I believe it deserves 5 stars.
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schwej
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

4 stars
 
Great new read
 
I really enjoyed The Sister, it was definately a book to make you think.  I did think that it had a bit too much information about moths, and that bogged down the flow for me, but some of it was necessary for the story.  All in all I would recommend this book, especially if you like to learn as you read.
 
The First Look Book Club has expanded my reading tastes, in that the books selected are not ones I would normally read, but am so glad that I have!
Elizabeth
kbc
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kbc
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I give The Sister 2 stars.

 

Headline:  Too Many Questions Remain

 

Review:  My first reaction after finishing the book was that there were too many questions that went unanswered at the end. I thought the first chapter was great, but then the book became slow and boring and I was struggling to get through it.  At some point, I did become more involved and wanted to find out why Vivi had returned and learn more about Ginny.  I felt there was too much description about the house and the moths.  Probably the most interesting theme in the book was how alcoholism affects the family dynamic.  I did not like the ending at all.  Overall, I was disappointed with this book I really expected to enjoy.

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Gracie136
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎12-22-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

Four Stars for the Sister.
I enjoyed reading the Sister. The novel draws you in from the beginning. I would not have predicted the ending. The author includes a great deal of information about moths which was interesting and central to the story but did slow the plot. I have recommended this to my book club.
Some other things I am reading now.....Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult ( excellent like everything else by Jodi Picoult), Triangle by Katherine Weber ( for my book club..another book about sisters), The Gathering and Dead Heat.
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nfam
Posts: 231
Registered: ‎01-08-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

2 Stars -- a very disappointing book. I felt the author didn't take the time to plot the story carefully and excused this negligence by saying that's real life. Sorry, it doesn't wash. Fiction isn't supposed to be as confusing as real life. It's supposed to generate a fictional dream that lets you see the author's reality.

I found the main character very difficult to understand. Were we supposed to take anything she said as truth, and if not, why use her as the main character. Although I found too much attention paid to the moths, they were probably the most interesting and well done part of the novel.

Sorry, this book just wasn't up to the quality of the other First Look selections.
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jodell7
Posts: 24
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I give The Sister 3 stars.
 
I enjoyed the many secrets and mystery involved in this book.  However, the insects and moths really turned me off.  I also felt that there was too much thinking and figuring out what was happening.  I still felt at the end of the book that too many questions were unanswered. 
 
jeanette
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craftyreader
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

3 Stars
 
A Dangerous World View- Life in a Vacuum
 
I thought this was a very well written book, but rather disturbing.  At the end of it all I am not sure I liked it.  I would have liked a little more information.  What was most fascinating to me was the first person narrative.  I think without outside checks--i.e. people in our lives, we can come up with a very off center world view.  When a life is lived so isolated there is the potential for things to go very wrong.  It was certainly thought provoking, but in the end not a satisfying read.
 
 
 
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nhawkinsII
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

Five Stars *****
 
In
Frequent Contributor
nhawkinsII
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

Five Stars *****
 
In The
Frequent Contributor
nhawkinsII
Posts: 32
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

[ Edited ]
Five Stars *****
 
In The Mind of Miss Virginia (Ginny) Stone
 
In The Sister author Poppy Adams introduces her readers to the thoughts of Miss Virginia (Ginny) Stone as she awaits the arrival of her sister Vivien after an absence of nearly fifty years.  As the two sisters share a weekend reunion and begin to prepare for a life together at their ancestral home Bulburrow Court, Ginny shares her thoughts about family, family history, childhood, young adulthood and career. 
 
As the observer of Ginny's thoughts and subsequent actions, there are times when you cannot turn the pages fast enough and there are times when you want to push Ginny to stand up for herself, to communicate and to share her life.  But at the end of four short days shared with her sister you will not be prepared for Ginny's shocking and significant decisions.
 
This story is well-written, intriguing and one I shall remember.  I find myself thinking about Ginny and Vivi, relationships and perceptions long after I finished reading The Sister.    
  
 
 


Message Edited by nhawkinsII on 03-25-2008 04:11 PM
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panicfingers
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎01-25-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

Exposing secrets may send you to the grave
3 stars
 
This book, narrated by the main character, is a look into a past riddled with secrets.  The reader is taken on a backward glance into the past of two sisters and is led into a series of mysterious happenings with many possible explanations.  This thought provoking novel is an excellent first beginning for Poppy Adams.
 
Other recommended titles are:
 
Perfume, the scent of a murderer
The History of Love
Memoires of a Geisha
Distinguished Correspondent
Thayer
Posts: 195
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

**4 Stars**
 
~~A chilling glimpse into a dysfunctional mind
 
The Sister is a labyrinth through the mind of Ginny who after years of estrangement is reunited with her sister Vivien.
 
The story tells of their dysfunctional childhood growing up amidst their father's obsession with the capture and study of moths.
 
Poppy Adams weaves a thrilling page turner among the scientific field of lepidoptery.
 
This book is a must read for all book clubs-one that's sure to stimulate lively discussions and spark much debate regarding the characters.
~~Dawn
Live the life you love ~ Love the life you live.
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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

2 stars

Title: "An unusual read"

Poppy Adans’s first novel will undoubtedly appeal to certain readers – and equally will undoubtedly not appeal to others.

The story of two sisters and the family in which they grew up begins with the younger sister, now 67 years old, coming back to live in the ancestral home she left nearly fifty years before. The older sister, a virtual recluse, has lived in the family home all her life, and it is at first unclear whether or not she welcomes the return of her sister.

The action of the novel takes place over just four days, but there are numerous flashbacks which fill us in on the first thirty years or so of the family history, although the twenty years preceding the opening scene of the book are left largely blank.

The book is written in the first person by the older sister, with occasional direct addresses to “you,” an unspecified reader. But as the reader becomes increasingly aware that there is some sort of psychological or mental problem (which is never identified, and doesn’t seem easy to diagnose), the reader must at all times be wary of the classic unreliable narrator problem.

The family has a long history as lepidopterists, and the family home is filled with the record of the work of generations of students of moths. A significant amount of the book is devoted to quite detailed scientific discourses on moths, their etymology, their life cycles, and the ways of capturing, killing and studying them, These passages will interest some readers, bu I found them far too dominant and detailed, and it was far from clear to me why so mich emphasis was devoted to the subject.

The first half of the book is very slow moving, without any apparent benefit from the leisurely pace and the lack of much happening, though the author drops numerous hints and teasers, which at times were too heavy-handed for my enjoyment. Eventually the pace of activity picked up, but I suspect a number of readers will abandon the book before they reach the more interesting passages.

It is hard to say much about the book without reveling more plot details than a reviewer should. But in the end, I left the book quite frustrated. Readers who are comfortable with ambiguity, who can enjoy a book even when it leaves more loose ends hanging around than a tapestry clawed by generations of cats, will not mind finishing the book with a significant number of central questions never resolved. But for those who like a tidier story, who prefer that an author provide reasonable justifications for the actions of her characters, who are willing to have a few plot elements left ambiguous but want answers to at least most of the “what really happened” questions, the book will be ultimately frustrating.

The ambiguities are, according to a discussion with the author in which I participated, intentional. According to Ms. Adams, “The Sister is purposefully nonprescriptive, and at times ambiguous.” She challenges the reader to find their own answers which “reflect their experience and society's differing values.” This ambiguity extends to much more than the meaning of the book. Factual situations are also left open ended. For example, in an early scene which leads to an important plot element, one of the daughters falls from a high place. It is left up to each reader to decide whether she fell, jumped, or was pushed. The author, asked about this, remarked that she wasn’t entirely sure herself.

The reader embarking on this book, then, should understand that they are not reading a traditional story so much as a book-length Rorschach test. Those readers who read primarily for entertainment, who like a traditional story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, will be disappointed. They would do well to look elsewhere. Readers who like the challenge of ambiguity, who don’t care whether an author explains what has happened to her characters or why they have acted as she has them act may, as long as they are not overwhelmed by the extensive lepidoptery, find this book satisfying.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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nperrin
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎12-20-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

4 stars--Recommended
Back after all these years, to unearth the past

When I began reading The Sister, I thought I knew who the eponymous sister was—Vivi, returning home after 46 years. By the time I finished the novel, I wasn’t so sure which sister was *the* sister, Vivi or Ginny, the narrator. I love ending a book with that kind of question lingering.

The Sister is told through the eyes of Ginny, an aging lepidopterist living alone in a crumbling country mansion. While she’s shut up with her tea, clocks, and routines, she waits for her younger sister Vivi to arrive and tells the story of their childhood. Eccentric parents, beautiful countryside, moths—the picture Ginny paints of the two sisters growing up is evocative and well-executed. Even the parts describing the minutiae of lepidoptery are interesting, though your mileage may vary. Eventually, Vivi arrives and the two women strain to revive a relationship after all these years despite conflict over their late parents.

The more Ginny tells us, the more we question the truth of her story, and of Vivi’s. The end left me wishing it was possible to get more of a grip on the reality behind all the memories. Unfortunately, at times it seemed Ms. Adams had written too many eccentricities and confusions into Ginny’s character, and too many themes trailing throughout the novel. I’m left wondering whether the focus should have been on alcoholism, aging, autism, family, loss, memory, science vs. emotion—the list goes on. Tighter editing may have improved this area and made the end somewhat less contrived, but in all I found The Sister engrossing.

Recommended to fans of Ian McEwan's Atonement.
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kanellio65
Posts: 26
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I gave The Sister 4 stars which surprised me. Having been able to read an advanced copy, made this an exciting first time experience in itself. However, the first few chapters did not grab me and in that I normally won't waste my time on this earth on a book that I am not interested in, for the sake of the ARC I continued when normally I would have put it aside. I was glad that I did keep at it. Right about when I was ready to quit, the book grabbed my attention and I kept calling me back to read more and more in every spare moment. Although I found, as did many, the long descriptions about the moths to be tedious and do confess at times to skimming some of that part, I also found parts of it related to the story and the characters symbolically. The two sisters are interestingly opposites but alas, I felt sorry for Ginny. I do think she was OCD rather than autistic as many reviewers have said but it added to the depth of her character. I found myself wondering how much of what I had read could be taken at face value when I finished it and the surprise twist at the end made me rethink every part of the story. I think Ms. Adams did a good job with her first fiction novel and would recommend it to people who liked The Double Bind! Stick with it, it was worth it!
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EbonyAngel
Posts: 276
Registered: ‎12-22-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers



Maria_H wrote:
Write your reviews of The Sister in this thread. From here, we'll collect your reviews and post them to the book's product page.

Here's how to get started

Reply to this message and include:
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Please do not include spoilers in your review -- as noted in our guidelines, "exclude from your review comments that may ruin the ending for others."

Thanks!

Message Edited by Maria_H on 03-20-2008 09:42 AM

I give "The Sister" by Poppy Adams 3 Stars.  It had a slow start that almost made me want to put it down but I kept reading and got pulled in by the story.  It not only showed the dynamics of family life, the relationship of sisters but also how things may or may not change after years of separation.  I thought some of it was a little too technical to read for enjoyment, unless you're interested in Moths but over all, a good read.
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