The Dark Sister


Goldstein R. The Dark Sister. Viking; 1993.
The Dark Sister


Reissued by the University of Wisconsin Press, 2004

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From the jacket:
Hedda, a writer of angry feminist novels, has fled New York City to write in solitude in an old house on the coast of Maine. Her only interruptions come in unwelcome phone calls from her self-absorbed and many-times mannered and divorced sister Stella, describing sessions with her psychoanalyst. Between this sisters there is anger and disdain, but there are also childhood traumas and secrets that inexorably link them. And within the sisters’ story is Hedda’s own novel in progress: a tale of two Victorian sisters, both spinsters, and both verging on madness. With the themes of passion and intellect, with its overlapping stories and unsettling dualities, The Dark Sister is a compelling blend of philosophy and dark humor, from one of today’s most provocative novelists.

“Goldstein... has cleverly constructed a highly imaginative tale that commands close analysis. Hedda, a grotesque, tormented author of angry feminist novels, has exiled herself to a gloomy New England house, where her grim solitude is interrupted only by phone calls from her silly but dangerous sister, Stella. Hedda is writing a Victorian novel, in Henry Jamesian style, about Henry’s brother William, the 19th-century psychologist. In the work, William is sent to study two sisters—one a brilliant recluse, the other possibly murderous—with pasts as murky as Hedda’s. Characters are mirrored, parallel plots overlap and several dark sisters—gifted with imaginative intellects but viewed as morbidly deviant—are doomed to destruction.... [A] witty, literary tour de force.”
Publishers Weekly

“The Dark Sister is brilliantly ingenious, beautifully written, and thoroughly alarming.”
—Iris Murdoch

“Immensely ambitious.... Teems with ideas and provocative suggestions.”
The Washington Post

“A successful blend of metaphysical suspense and satirical comment.”
Chicago Tribune

“Rebecca Goldstein is a philosopher by training and it shows; she’s managed to create a vehicle to carry the weight of her fascinating allusions and interests.”
New York Newsday

“Clever, observant and nimble.... One has the exhilarating sense of reading a writer who has just discovered the full possibilities of her talent.”
The New York Times

The Dark Sister  is a mental scherzo from start to finish, performed with cunning and dexterity. It is certainly one of the most dexterous performances I’ve come across in years.”
Buffalo News

Last updated on 12/04/2012