If you like the fiction of Henry James, the psychology of his brother William, and have a taste for Gothic mysteries you will enjoy The Dark Sister. The novel is a curious mixture of the Victorian repressiveness about sex, intricate stories within stories, and Jewish humor.With a new afterword...
|Title||:||The Dark Sister|
|Number of Pages||:||304 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Dark Sister Reviews
Oh, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. I, too, do not understand what in the hell you are trying to say. I hoped I might be different --more cerebral, more sisterly, more persistent. But I admit defeat. I would rather see a play by Wendy Wasserstein, read a biography of William, Henry and Alice and visit my own sister to create a comprehensible version of what I think you are attempting. I regret we were not compatible, but applaud your lofty vision.
Enjoyed this cerebral mash-up of meta-writing, philosophy, psychology, ghost-(or is it "spirit")-yarn/mystery, and send-up provocation that Goldstein cleverly double-plots through the intertwined stories of two sets of sisters, one fair, one dark, Hedda and Stella, of the contemprorary world (and thus the controlling narrative voice, via author/narrator Hedda), and Alice and Vivianna, of the early 20th century, living in a large, brooding, tower-dominated house in the hills of northwestern Connecticut, and with whom the psychologist-philosopher William James becomes involved. Through the personage of James's thus arrives the central conceit of the narrative: Henry-Jamesian prose. Goldstein is smitten with the literature of the 19th century and writes Hedda as equally smitten. Moreover, here, in Hedda's novel-in-progress, eponymously entitled The Dark Sister, she (or both...as in both author and character...there's more than a bit of self-referential meta- here) is a bit of a magpie, pinching words, phrases, and diction from Henry and the occasional collateral Victorian contemporary. (Goldstein prefaces her story by acknowledging the authors and titles of which she is confident Hedda is aware, and a brief prologue of James-family sketches and quotations.)I docked the novel a star - actually, a half-star - for MacArthur-Fellow Goldstein's too, too ostensible pedantry, her show-offy delight in obscure words - words down in the lowest usage-frequency percentiles - and references, and her sometimes plodding, text-booky style. (I had to look up sthenic, borborygmus, lanuginous, and six or seven other Greek or Latinate terms that stumped me...you know when your tummy gurgles - what Mommy used to say was "your stomach talking to you"? Gastroenterologists know this as "borborygmus" - accent on the third syllable, "ryg"). A reviewer might easily have written all this off as satirical - Hedda, the primary voice, is sensitive about never having gone to college, and she has a habit of jotting mental nota benes when she encounters words she MUST find occasion to use, words like "ossuous" and "embrocate." But I elected to choose pedanticism over satirical intent and what struck me as William James's more technical phrasing over Henry James's dreamier lapidary prose. The novel is broken up into 17 mostly short chapters, a few of which are fairly sprightly but the majority of which tend at some point to slog in an over-expository way.Even so, Goldstein is a close observer and careful depicter of humans and landscapes and all manner of organic matter. She sees into, and through, things. She has a philosopher's care for language as the vehicle of transmitted comprehension. She drops a handful of witty bons mots. And she made me want to return to Henry James and to read Alice James's diary and letters as well as Charlotte Bronte's Villette, and to finally take down from the shelf Ingrid Rowland's biography of Giordano Bruno that's been glaring down at me for nearly a decade.That's not bad from a novel that won't be for every taste but will suit a variety of tastes, like mine
Dense, complicated multi-layered plot involving literary history and psychology, as well as feminism, Judaism, and astronomy. Hard to believe, but Goldstein weaves it all together. An exhausting, but interesting read.
I really wanted to like this book more than I actually did. There were lots of interesting threads that I felt should be coalescing, but somehow it never quite worked for me. I also felt lost in the Henry James allusions and references; perhaps if I were more up on my James, some of the writing style and references would have resonated more.The author seemed to have interesting thoughts about personality, the possibility of multiple personalities, the relationship between sisters and between daughters and their parents, and feminine identity in general. But at the end of the day, I can't really tell you exactly what those ideas were and they didn't ever take recognizable shape in the characters of the novel.I wish I'd read this one with a book group because I have the sense that perhaps another reader would have picked up on things that I missed and would have generated fascinating conversation. I hope I can interest someone else in reading this one because I'd love to read more reviews of it.
This is by far the most convoluted one of Goldstein's books that I've read. I had to go back several times and re-read sections to understand which character/s were in play. Suffice it to say, the plot includes a descent to madness and death, through multiple personalities (some modern and some Victorian), through traumas of various types. Everything (although fiction) is framed through (actual) words, themes, and exerpts from works by Henry and William James, and having a grasp of both of their works (as varied as they are from each other) first will strongly aid the reader in following this text. Brilliant, as always from this author, but in my opinion slightly too labrinthine to be entirely pleasurable. Note to the reader: Stick with the book to the end, and read the afterward as well. Things will make more sense as you continue.
A should have been good novel about a feminist author and her neurotic sister. There's a novel within a novel also about two sisters, with a lot of parallels to the first two. The novel within a novel is Victorian in style and kind of tough slogging. The whole thing is held together with tons of coincidence and ties between all the sisters. Seems like there's a lot of themes and symbolism and philosophy in there and it should have been more interesting than it was.
The description sounded really good but I made it to page 60 and just stopped. That's 20% of the book so it seemed fair. Just couldn't get into the overly literary style.
Too thick and layered to be enjoyable. I liked the fictionalized and represented William James but it was just far too much to be taken as a novel.