Monday 15 March 2021

The Story Sisters

Finished March 8
The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman

This novel tells the story of three sisters, Elv, Meg, and Claire from their childhood into their twenties. The story begins shortly after a defining moment in two of the sisters' lives. Something happened to Elv as a result of her trying to prevent something happening to Claire. This incident was never shared with their third sister, or their parents, but it resulted in Elv creating a fantasy world that had its own language and stories. Elv told the fairy stories from that world to other children, who were enraptured by them, but as the stories became increasing dark, others were scared by the stories and her following began to fade away. Elv too became a darker child, rebellious, entering a world of drugs, sex, and chaos. Their parents separated when the girls were quite young, and their mother Annie was for a time bound by her own loss as a result of their father leaving. 
One constant in the girls' lives was their grandmother, who had homes in both New York City and Paris, and the girls regularly went to Paris once a year, where they had their favourite shops and eateries. They also were close to one of their grandmother's friends, Madame Cohen, a woman who had survived World War II as a young Jewish girl and who had her own secrets. 
As the girls grew older, Meg grew studious and serious and became less involved with her older sister Elv, and there grew a resentment between the sisters, with Claire the bridge between them. But Claire too had her own guilt, over what Elv experienced as a result of saving her, and over what later happened to Meg. It takes intervention from her grandmother and Madame Cohen to save her from her demons and bring her to a more hopeful future. 
For Elv, a better future also required intervention, although it took a long time, and it was Annie and an older man who Annie called on for help that ultimately made the difference as Elv's truth came out and she faced it. 
This is a story of trauma and its long term effects, of sisters and the complex relationship that can develop, and of the power of story. 


  1. I haven't read anything by her yet, but her Marriage of opposites is on my TBR. Stories and words are very powerful indeed :)

    1. I haven't read Marriage of Opposites yet, but I really enjoyed her historical fiction Dovekeepers and the mysterious and magical Red Garden.