04-15-2008 11:26 AM
04-20-2008 06:44 PM
04-24-2008 10:27 AM
04-24-2008 11:04 PM
05-13-2008 04:09 PM
(The link above is for my original review of "The Sister" by Poppy Adams. I am a part-time contributor to BookFetish, and grant my permission for the review to be used on B&N *so long as the due attribution is provided*. This granting of permission has also been cleared by the editor-in-chief of BookFetish.)
5-stars -- Outstanding
The Sister: Poppy Adams
The Stones were an unusual family, marked by sharply contrasting personalities and a family love for lepidoptery. When the last remaining members of the Stone family - sisters Vivian and Virginia - reunite after nearly fifty years of estrangement, the family's deepest secrets rise to the surface. Vivian's arrival on Virginia's doorstep heralds the exposure of truth behind the tragic events that destroyed a once-grand family.
This is a great first-time novel from Poppy Adams, who is primarily known for making television documentaries. Initially, I had my reservations about this book as the jacket blurbs brought it across as chick-lit. It's not. This is soooo not chick-lit. The best description I can think of for this is "Southern Gothic with a British twist"... Twisting and turning, eerie and provocative, disturbing and seductive at the same time.
The documentary filmmaking experience has served Adams well in writing The Sister. She has a keen sense for what details are and are not important, and for the unfolding of a story. She makes excellent use of flashbacks, and is capable of painting a picture so vivid that you can picture it just as clearly in your head as on a television screen. Her characters are remarkably well-rendered as well as memorable.
Ginny (Virginia) is easily the most fascinating character of the whole story, both for being the narrator and for her defining characteristics. By the middle of the book, you can already tell that her accounting for events is slightly skewed or perhaps absent a certain perceptiveness natural in most people. Approaching the last quarter of the book, taking in the whole of Ginny's narratives regarding her childhood and her reaction to Vivi's arrival, I began to get a more concrete idea that Ginny's character likely experiences some form of high-functioning autism / Asperger's Syndrome. That understanding, in itself, put a twist on the revelations in the final chapters of the book.
On the whole, this is an outstanding read. It will be interesting to see what Adams produces when she next puts pen to paper.
Other titles I recommend:
"Being Peace" - Thich Nhat Hanh
"All Families Are Psychotic" - Douglas Coupland
"A Farewell to Arms" - Ernest Hemingway
"Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" - Marjorie Kellogg