As a fan of Sittenfeld's I've been waiting for this book for a while (funny isn't it, how even as authors, we get impatient for our favorite writers to produce something, like, pronto. As if goodness can be produced overnight, or our favorite authors are writing simply for our convenience.)
Anywho, Sisterland is the story of two sisters, identical twins. Both twins are afflicted/gifted (depending on which sister you're talking to) with a form of ESP. On sister, Vi, sees her abilities as a gift and has been working as a medium for years. The other, Kate, our more conservative narrator, has seen it is a curse ever since her secret was revealed in high school, and has done all she can to deny and suppress her powers.
The book opens with an earthquake, and a prediction: this will be just the first of many. The "big one" is coming, says Vi, and on a particular date, too.
Thus begins the set-up for the book that explores the connection between the sisters, Kate's marriage to her conventional husband, and the general dynamics of family -- and humanity -- under the potential of approaching natural disaster.
While Sittenfeld's excellent Prep, and her second novel, The Man of My Dreams, explored similar themes related to coming of age from an outsider's perspective, her latest two novels, American Wife (a thinly-veiled biography of Laura Bush) and this novel have each been completely different from one another. What remains, and has been there from the beginning, is Sittenfeld's sharp pen and wry/funny observations about humanity. That being said, a consistent thread in her work is a difficult to like/understand main character, and she's done a better job, here, of making Kate knowable and accessible, even as she sometimes, particularly near the end of the book, makes some extremely questionable choices.
I suspect the controversy in this book -- whether people decide to love it or hate it -- will lie in the events and choices made in the last 50 pages. I'm still not sure how I feel about them, myself, but I read this book in a day, the first time I've done that in a while, and that speaks to the power of Sittenfeld's storytelling, and why I'm already eagerly awaiting her next book. (No pressure, or anything!)
And so, next week. Stephen King's Joyland is sitting atop the paperback charts, and since I enjoyed his JFK book so much (if you haven't read 11/22/63, you really should), that's what I'll be reading this week.
Catch you on the flip side.