Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

The Sister
 
Rating:  3 stars
 
Interesting read from a first time auther.   Contains lessons in how the mind deteriorates with some scientific research thrown in.  This book is not for those who prefer a "begining, middle, end" read.  There are no answers, as in life, we often don't know the ending. 
 
MG
New User
blogginboutbooks
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-30-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

Note:  This review is also published on my book blog, Bloggin' 'Bout Books.  You can find it here.
 
I give The Sister 4 stars (recommended)
 
Headline:  With A Little Polish, The Sister Can Shine in a Dark, Victorian Kind of Way
 
 

If you do not have a female sibling, you might wonder why authors and filmmakers are so

fascinated by the sister thing. If you do have a sister (or two or three or four) you don't have to wonder. You know. Especially if you are a woman. The bonds forged between sisters can be just as dramatic, just as passionate as any romantic affair; a sister "break up" can be even more devastating than a divorce. It's just this kind of strong, fiery relationship that sits at the heart of Poppy Adams' debut novel, The Sister.


The story concerns 70-year-old Virginia "Ginny" Stone, a retired lepidopterist (a person who studies moths and butterflies), who is living out her life in her family's crumbling mansion. It's a solitary life Ginny leads, one that is based on routine and strict adherence to the clock. She wears two wristwatches just so she always knows the exact time. Her careful routines are about to be disrupted, she knows, so she watches her driveway with apprehension. Soon, her sister Vivien will arrive. Vivi. The sister she hasn't seen for 50 years.

Vibrant Vivi sweeps into the lonely old house like the proverbial breath of fresh air. But Ginny isn't wild about fresh air. She prefers the safety of her childhood home, where everything is quiet and predictable. Inside that monument to the past she can remember her life, her family the way she wants. Vivien's presence is an intrusion, a harsh reminder that the Stone Family kept its deep, dark secrets just like everyone else.

With Vivien in the house again, Ginny is jolted into the past. Her memories roam back to her childhood, years she spent happily ensconced in the laboratory with her father. Shy and withdrawn, Ginny preferred the cloistered life, where she could focus solely on her specimens. Vivien, on the other hand, resembled their mother Maud, who loved the excitement of society. While Ginny and her father toiled their lives away, happy in their seclusion, Vivi and Maud slowly deteriorated. By the time Ginny emerged from the lab, she found her life inexplicably altered - her mother had become a violent drunk and her cherished sister escaped to the city. Without Vivi to brighten their lives, The Stones followed their obsessive paths until tragedy left Ginny alone in the enormous family home. She retreated further into herself, until Vivi waltzed in a century later to open old wounds.

Despite Vivi's abandonment and further insults over the years, Ginny loves her sister. The bond between them is, in fact, the only bright spot in Ginny's life. As the sisters face the reality of their past, Ginny realizes a great many truths about her parents, about her sister, and about herself. Will the truth be too much for her fragile psyche? Will Vivi cave when Ginny brings her secrets to light? Will the link between the sisters survive? Or will the past crush everything they hold dear, even the strongest of sisterly bonds?

As you can tell from the plot summary, The Sister is not a light read. It's a complex psychological thriller, but not of the "can't put it down" variety. Instead, it builds slowly, chillingly, until it reaches its shocking conclusion. It's only after you've turned the last page that you realize you've been holding your breath.

I know a lot of reviewers didn't like the book's ending, but I thought it made perfect sense (at least in a Ginny Stone kind of way). In fact, it was such a logical conclusion that I really wasn't that startled by it. My beefs with the book lay more in the fact that it was so dense, especially with references to lepidopterology, that I often wanted to close it. I also felt that the author left too many loose ends - I still don't quite understand why Vivi chose to come back after 50 years or what certain minor characters (like Dr. Moyse) had to do with the whole thing. Many of Adams' subplots hung in midair, never connecting to the main plot and never resolving themselves. So, while I felt that the story's ending was right (although I can't say I liked it), I didn't feel satisfied. There were just too many dots left unconnected.

All that said, I ended up liking the book a lot more than I thought I would. It's an interesting read that delves into some fascinating issues. With a little polish (and a different cover - sheesh, how boring can you get?), I think this one could really shine - at least in a dark, brooding, Victorian kind of way.

Grade:  B-

 
Frequent Contributor
bmbrennan
Posts: 153
Registered: ‎02-28-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

4 stars
The story centers around Ginny waiting by the window for an overdue visit from her younger sister.  The story twists and turns much like the insects she studies.  It does slow in some parts but hang in there, as the ending is worth the read. 
bmbrennan
When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber. Churchill
Frequent Contributor
Kourt
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I would give this book a rating of 4 stars. It was very well written and had me guessing at many points. I do feel that the end was purposely left open for maybe a sequel? Hopefully, we will see more from Ms. Adams is the near future.
Frequent Contributor
Oldesq
Posts: 373
Registered: ‎10-07-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

3-stars
 
A Changeling
 

According to Western folklore a changeling is the offspring of a fairy that has been left in the place of a human child.  Although a changeling takes on the human form, it eventually reveals itself by its voracious appetite and bouts of mean temperament.  Reading the new novel The Sister by Poppy Adams, I felt like the worried parent who discovers that instead of their beloved child they have a changeling on their hands. 

The Sister is a tale of a weekend reunion in the family manse of two sisters after an estrangement of over fifty years.  Through flashbacks we learn some of the details of the sisters' lives, though we doubt the reliability of the sister who narrates the story.  Ms. Adams skillfully evokes the creepy environment of this gothic tale and ably builds the entire infrastructure necessary for an enjoyable read.  A clearly symbolic parallel universe of lepidoptery, the study of the moth, is sketched out in all its intricacies.  A rich cast of characters is introduced and tension builds to feverish heights.    But at the end of each act of the story, the true changeling temperament of the novel takes over.  Characters who presented themselves as essential to the narrative disappear or are dismissed in an off-handed sort of way.  Whole plotlines fizzle and whatever symbolism the reader is meant to take from the moths becomes a tiny cocoon filament unable to sustain the weight of the reader's expectations.  After the first of these betrayals, the reader who perseveres, is subject to the same treatment twice more with the closing arc of the narrative leaving the reader confused with too much unresolved.  And yet, between its tantrums and bouts of depleting the reader's trust, this changeling novel has much promise.  Ms. Adams has a wonderful and unique voice.  I just wish The Sister thought more of its readers instead of its changeling self.         

Contributor
jforever52
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

The Sister: A Study in Instability
 
3 Stars
 
Poppy Adams first novel, The Sister, explores the strained relationship between two sisters, Vivien and Ginny, who have had virtually no contact with one another for decades.  The narrator, Ginny, provides the reader with her distorted version of reality. . .both in the relationship between herself and her sister, and in relation to the family as a whole.  One thing is certain, nothing is as it seems in this novel. 
While the premise of the book did grab my attention, and kept me reading the book.  I was disappointed with the fact that too many questions were left unanswered.  The use of Ginny, an unstable narrator, left me as the reader guessing as to what really occurred on too many occasions.   
Ginny and Vivien grow up with parents who, given their own flaws, are absent from the girls lives during young adulthood.  It is hard to decipher whether the resulting traits of Ginny and Vivien are a result of their upbringing, or whether there is some other flaw in the chemical makeup of either sister resulting in their strange, and unexplained, behavior.  
Reader beware: you will have a burning desire to know more about these characters after reading the last page. . .and the answers will not be forthcoming. 
 
Other recommended books:  March by Geraldine Brooks, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Reader 2
lesleyhess
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-30-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I give The Sister 3 stars.
 
Intriguing, yet frustrating.
 
Overall I liked the book.  I seriously considered giving it 4 stars rather than 3, but in the end decided on 3.  The book hooked me from the very first page.  I would consider it a page-turner.  Despite the intense desire to keep reading until the end, however, the book did have its flaws.  I have always enjoyed books with twists and turns along the way, but I prefer my endings tied up with a nice little bow.  I had the impression that the "sister" in the book was going to be Vivian, but I question whether the "sister" is really Ginny.  Over the course of the story we learn a great deal about Ginny's past, but very little about Vivi's.   I was disappointed and frustrated not to learn more about Vivi after she left their childhood home and her motives for returning.   I was left with an unfinished feeling at the end of the book and had more questions than answers.  Personally, I did not find the scientific information regarding the moths interesting or useful to the book.   The symbolism was lost on me.  I read this book with a friend and it was helpful to discuss it with her as we read.  I agree with other reviewers that this would be a good choice for a book club.  The ending, or lack of one, would generate interesting discussion amongst the members. 
 
Other books I would recommend:
 
What is the What by Dave Eggers
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
 
 
 
 
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

Exactly!!!  I agree!!!
:smileyhappy:
Contributor
martinbrtj
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

Three Stars

Throwback to an age

Most of this story made for good reading. I was particular interested in Ginny's voice in this story. We never learn what sort of 'condition' she has, but she naively narrates the story in an autistic type of manner. I found that aspect of story quite intriguing.
The relationships Ginny has with her sister, Viviene, Viviene's husband and Michael, the lifelong family friend, are deep and thought provoking throughout the book.
I usually enjoy learning something from each book I read. Unfortunately, with this book, I learned far more than I wished to learn about moths and butterflies. One particular passage in the book actually made my stomach start churning.
I truly feel like this book has a dark, old world feel to it, that evokes nothing of the modern age, except for one reference to cell phones. And in some ways, this added to the character of the book. I like a book that evokes a mood.

If you enjoy this book, I would recommend the book, 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Frequent Contributor
renhair
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

[ Edited ]
4 stars
 
Keep Reading...
 
I really enjoyed this book.  I thought it was beautifully written (there are quotes from this book that I've actually pulled out and passed on) and I found the story very intriguing.  To be honest, at first I wasn't sure how I felt about the story, but as I kept reading, I found myself truly appreciating the story and the characters.  I got extremely angry with some and felt extremely sad for others.  Any book that moves me to emotion rates highly with me.  I also enjoyed the way the author made you think....she didn't just give you answers, she made you work for them.  I think it's a great discussion book and quite possibly, it's even better with discussion.  I'm already planning to suggest it for my book club.  I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a bit of mystery and doesn't mind working for the answers.  The
 
Other books I'd recommend:
 
Double Bind - Nick Bohjalian
The Fig Eater - Jody Shields
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
Wicked
Memoirs of a Geisha
Anything by Sharon Kay Penman
 



Message Edited by renhair on 03-27-2008 07:41 PM
Correspondent
Rosei
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

4 stars. Enchanting!
 
Here's a book about points of view that can be changed and different slants on life in family. Very sweet as well as very intriguing, The Sister takes us to an interior world, full of stories, pungent feelings and hunger for discovering. Property and memory are based on the relationship between two sisters who experience an intense feeling battle, trying to figure out what they really mean to each other.
 
It's highly recommended!
Reader
ancameni
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎09-23-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

[ Edited ]
2.5 Stars


Moth Science and too many unanswered question!!!!

The book starts with one sister awaiting the arrival of another sister, whom she had not seen in nearly 50 years. The story is told by one sister as the narrator.
It does not take you long (about 2-3 pages) to realize that one sister has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). I would even go so far as to say she has a mild form of Autism.She lives in her own world, does not have a care in her life other than her moths. Too many pages are being filled with details of Moths, how to catch them, what kills them etc. The other sister arrives and disrupts "Ginny"s" small little world. You see that Ginny is a hermit and does not seem to think that there is anything wrong.The book continues with stories from the girls lives, mainly the childhood, and youth. You see a father whose main compassion are moths. A mother who upholds a picture and status of her family, but not admitting that there is a problem. Alcoholism. Ginny being the surrogate for her sisters child...Too dysfunctional, too disturbing, yet a some point interesting. But in the end you are left with many unanswered questions. You will never know why her sister came back or what she did all those years etc.
This is not a book to be read as an enjoyment. It is better suited for a book discussion.
Maybe the author should have ignored her documentary experience, in which case the book would have been a enjoyable. This is not a book to be understood and comprehended at the first read-thru but it is so disturbing that one will not get the urge to read it again.



I can strongly recommed:

The Thirteeth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Message Edited by ancameni on 03-27-2008 08:35 PM

Message Edited by ancameni on 03-27-2008 08:36 PM

Message Edited by ancameni on 03-27-2008 08:37 PM
Contributor
ladydi22
Posts: 12
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

5 Stars
 
Nature vs. Nurture?
 
Poppy Adams first book "The Sister" is a fascinating journey through the recesses of the elements that make us machine or monster ("Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"  comes to mind.  Does our "shadow" know?).  Her use of metaphor spells out for us the simpler answer while the story challenges the reader to come to a conclusion of their own.   Not an easy read for those who like a tidy tale.  If you like a thinker this book is the perfect choice!
 
Other Recommendations:
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult
Reader 2
eastrong
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I give the book 3 stars.
 
The book was a little slow. I felt I had to force myself to stay with it at the beginning. Probably would not have stayed with it if it had not been a book club read. However, glad I did as it did pick up some. Not a "great" book, but felt it was worth the time I invested in it. I will probably give future books by this author more than a passing glance.
Contributor
Des222
Posts: 10
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

4 Stars
 
The Sister: Maud, moths and other mysteries
 
This was my first ARC, and I loved the "gift" of it. I felt sad when, for the first few chapters, the atmosphere of the book felt gray, and empty, like the home in which the story takes place. Yet as it moved on, and that feeling remained, I was compelled to fill in that emptiness with my own ideas of what was going on with the sisters. Having a sister myself, I did want to "label" these two women, but found they were different from me AND my sister. I was left wanting more...more clues, more humor, and more ANSWERS. But as the story went on, I was intrigued that it all of that wasn't "handed" to me in the book. Just like life, everything and everyone in the book doesn't "mean" something deep and compelling. The positive and negative "what if's" continue to spin in my mind. I thought I was missing something until I saw Poppy's posts. Real life isn't clear cut and tied in a nice bow; neither is this book. That's why I loved it.
 
To tag onto the moth analogy, if I look at this book like a cocoon, I was waiting, hoping and willing it to open up to be a beautiful, rare, brightly colored butterfly. And outcame a small, neutral colored moth that blends into the background of my day. Every so often, it takes flight and the movement of its wings reminds me it there and gets me to thinking..."what if Ginny"..or "I wonder if Vivi"...? Sure, it may not catch your eye and take your breath away, but you see it out of the corner of your eye and keep looking for it. And it makes you think of more questions. Thank you for sharing this book with me.
Correspondent
detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

3 Stars

Interesting Narration

Poppy Adams's debut novel, “The Sister,” is the story of 70-year-old Ginny Stone's reunion with her three-years-younger sister after decades of estrangement. Though the title suggests a predominance of sisterly interactions, the reunion is mostly a frame on which to hang flashbacks into the family's dysfunctional history, including a generations-long line of lepidopterists.

The novel is narrated in the first-person voice of Ginny, and it's clear within pages that she's a little odd. It's a notable and ambitious narration -- indeed, by immersing the reader in the unreliable mind of Ginny, the author moves the telling of a story a literary leap ahead into the showing of it.

The trouble is, unreliability and ambiguity are why people like Ginny shouldn't tell stories; they tend to frustrate readers. While authors can provide clarity by orchestrating overheard conversations -- with subtext that the narrator doesn't fully understand but that readers do -- the ambiguity here seems a deliberate mechanism to build atmosphere and suspense. Three-fourths in, I anticipated that some wow-something would weave the dozen open plot elements into a final, magnificent reveal. But it didn't happen. Although the crisis scene itself was clear, all of the accumulated red herrings were ignored. At that point, having felt more frustration than empathy for the characters, I had little interest in speculating the ambiguity into clarity on my own.

Frequent Contributor
judycarr
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎12-12-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I would give the Sister a 3......While I liked the basis for the story and enjoyed the characters very much, I felt the book got very bogged down in the scienfic details.  I really lost interest in the story after a while because of these details.  The story and the fine writing could not salvage my struggle with all the moth "stuff".
I  did not enjoy the book all that much
Wordsmith
maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

5 stars
 
This book is why I read , to be carried away to the lives in the story. I was thoroughly swept up in the lives of these disfunctional sisters. The family's study of moths gave the book an added interest for me. I loved this book and can't wait for Ms. Adams next book. Yvonne
Frequent Contributor
Readingrat
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎09-26-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

[ Edited ]
4 stars

The Sister

Ginny and Vivi are two sisters growing up in the English countryside. Ginny is an introvert and is expected to follow in her father's footsteps in his chosen field of lepidoptery. Vivi is an extrovert who longs to escape the country house and find a life for herself in the city. Told in a series of flashbacks his story follows the two sisters and their parents as the girls mature and begin their adult lives. However, the sudden death of the girls' mother rips the family apart. Now nearly 50 years later the sisters are living under the same roof again. But both sisters have questions about the events of so long ago and how to begin to live together again. What results is a compelling exploration of family relationships and personal perceptions.

Message Edited by Readingrat on 03-29-2008 10:09 PM
Reader 4
srhodus
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Your Reviews of The Sister -- should not contain spoilers

I give this book a 5.
I did not read any of the individual threads for the chapters until I finished the book.  I actually enjoyed the entire book until the end but after thinking about it for the past couple of days, I have changed my mind.  I actually thought it was well done!!
Users Online
Currently online: 36 members 637 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: