Responses to the book BELOW (click here to read/leave reviews at GoodReads)
"Sometimes you put a book down and that’s that. Other times the characters stay with you for a long time, sneaking into your life at the most unexpected moments, making you rethink life and your place in it. Those are the books that change us.
This is one of those books.”
"I just finished reading Chapter 8 and I am bawling at my desk!!!!!!!!"
"It was so, so good. So good. So real. It made me laugh out loud (hard!) and cry (truly ugly) tears at different points because it's so relatable and honest; if you have a sister, if you have a mother, or if you have anyone in your life who you love dearly but don't always see eye to eye with, you'll get it. It will move you. It's such a beautiful story. Reading it reminds me that no one has a perfect relationship.It inspires me to be there more for those I love, to be a better sister, daughter. I love this book."
— Lauren Olaksen
"It's one of those books you savour, not wanting it to end, the words dancing on the page as you lose yourself in the story. Trust me when I say you might see yourself in this book and you'll likely shed a tear or two. I bloody loved it and I suspect you guys will too!"
I opened this book last night, read until midnight. Woke up and took it again, staying in bed until 10am.
I finished it on my deck, under the end of Summer sun.
I understood in my heart, in a way that has no words, many, many of the threads and stories within the story.
I had to bring the book in the garden and let us breathe together, listen to all that is said and to all that is silent, in simple ceremony, as is life. —Francine Bonjour Carter
This morning I was standing next the stove cooking my scrambled eggs while reading the last chapter. I don’t know that I’ve ever done that before in my 45 years on this earth! I simply could not put it down and ended up going into the office late! The characters were so relatable - real people like you or me - complete with flaws and so many lovable qualities. I’ll be buying additional copies for friends and family, because I will not be able to part with my copy.
Just read half the book in one sitting! Can't put it down but have to make dinner.
Friday 9:19 pm
Back at it
Saturday 6:15 am
Saturday 1:25 pm
*Photo of a woman sobbing on the deck.*
Chapter 8, Janet, Patrick, the whole damn thing.
I might have to go to bed for like a month. It's sooooo so good.
Like existential crisis good.
Bea's clarity, her way of feeling deeply connected to the taste, colour, shape, scent and texture of the life surrounding her is a joy. The way she listens without being fooled. Her knowing authority. So many things I love in her. And the stories of "stories for my sister", making me connect again with my own gentle knowing. Thank you Elizabeth Duvivier for crafting so patiently and wisely these stories one by one. They are a gift. And a transformation. I feel nurtured.
Completely overwhelmed by this writing. So tender and raw and savagely honest. I haven't let go of this book since I got it two days ago. I will remember and re-read this again and again. Oh, the writing. I am sad I reached the last page moments ago.
I want to take this moment to tell you how much I truly enjoyed your book - I did not want it to end, I became so fond of the characters I felt like I knew them deeply. Thank you for transporting me to the life of sisters Mona & Bea. So eloquently written. It will stay with me...
After the listening to the audio, I am reading the book slowly, catching any little word I may have missed. For me, this is the type of book I read with a pen and mark phrases and beautifully written descriptions I want to remember. —Colleen Attara
I LOVED Stories for My Sister. I took my time with it and relished it over the last two weeks every night. One night gave me a good chuckle after a long day at work... “Really, thought Bea. You weren’t able to plan that you would need a chair today.” It was all just exquisite- from the cover and the size and feel of the book to all of the words contained within. Thank you, thank you! (I have to admit that I am hoping you will return to your podcast, even for one episode to chat a bit about the story & the writing process.) I look forward to reading it again and sharing it with others. With gratitude,
Life is far to short and amidst all the tragedies we need to recognize the beauty and love in the world. That is what your book reminded me of, the importance of expressing love and recognizing beauty.
Thank you so much for writing this book. It is so inspiring. I have already recommended it to all my friends. I'm actually going to lend the book to my sister as well 🙂 —Angela McCutcheon
There are so many eloquent reviews of this book already written that it’s a little intimidating to write my own ... but ...
I feel that this book could also be titled Story for My Sisters ... because it is a story for all sisters, all mothers, all grandmothers and all aunts, all women.... It speaks to who we are and who are perceived to be and who we can become. It is a beautiful book.
Stories for my Sister is the kind of book that had me not getting quite enough sleep as I dug into “just one more chapter”. It is the kind of book you don’t want to end but can’t put down. Weaving in and out of time through the course of these two sisters lives, they became dear to me. And in each of them I saw pieces of myself, pieces of others I know. Their voices are so clear. All their flaws and foibles are held so gently and lovingly by Elizabeth’s articulate writing. For me this book is about missed opportunity through the window pane of grief, but not at all in an admonishing way. Rather a recognition that life is imperfect. It is perfectly imperfect and has the potential to be filled with so much love should we choose to get out of our own way.
This. Book. I listened to it first, and now I am reading it. I hardly read books anymore, because of my eyesight, I enjoy the narration too. I opened the book and saw the lovely typeset and font. ( I hope I got these terms right). I almost weeped, as I realized I could easily read this without fatigue. The characters and their journey are amazing. I am enjoying it with my morning coffee so I can savor the story each day. I find myself relating to each character. Thank you Elizabeth so grateful I could be at your launch in Portland! —Mona LaPierre
Stories For My Sister is one of those rare "once in a lifetime" books that you count yourself lucky to have come across. It's at once real & honest, heart-wrenching and heart-opening, sorrowful and soul-nourishing. Oddly enough, I'm glad I had a vacation that broke up my reading, as it gave it time for the first part to really sink in before finishing it. This is the kind of book that captures your attention in such a way that I would normally be staying up until the wee hours of the morning. As it was, I couldn't resist carrying it around, reading it while having my coffee, and throughout the day. The characters were so well-written and so complex! I wept along with them all towards the end of the book. I've always been a believer that there are certain books that get into the fabric of who you are, who you become. They shape you and make you think about things in a deeper, more meaningful way. Make you really ponder life choices. This is one of those books. This is one that will remain in my bookcase for years to come and undoubtably be re-read until it falls apart.
Boy oh boy did you hit a homerun!! I loved all of your characters and your techique of bringing the complexity of each personality into sharper focus as their stories are told. until by the end I love all of them. So rich. Even the secondary characters are memorable. Your only problem as I see it is you leave the reader wanting even more. Like a wonderful dessert. You are utterly satisfied but do not want to put down the fork or leave the table just in case there is another serving coming. —Joann Monteiro
I just finished your book Saturday night! I got near the end and normally would have stopped for the night but had to keep reading. It was beautiful- I had tears streaming at the end. The way you described everything had me picturing it like a movie in my head. I will be thinking about these characters for a long time to come. So many things they should have said... —--Whitney Dahlberg
I truly loved this book. It touched me... a story of belonging and not belonging, a story of love and loneliness. I loved the end of the book when Janet tells her truth, her story... it reminded me that we never know the other’s story, yet we are so quick to judge and harden. So in the end I felt a sense of peace for Mona, Bea and Janet. I do have one question, and you may or may not have the answer: what happens to Bea next? Thank you for writing this story! I look forward to more. —Nathalie LeBreton
I started your book on Thursday afternoon and found myself so drawn into the story and the characters that I continued to read it every free moment I had: on a 3 hour train ride Friday and then completing it Saturday once my kids honored my desire to sit quietly and read. It is a brilliant book. The prose beautiful, the characters nuanced and complex, and the gradual unfolding of the storylines compelling. I was particularly drawn in by how differently the sisters experienced their mother and the world around them, the impact of old world New England on each, their very different ways of coping, and the moments each sincerely wants to connect with the other but then does not. —Evelyn Sclufer
I am so enjoying Stories for my Sister. After long days, it's a delight to crawl into bed and the world you have created with Bea, Mona and Janet. Your writing is lovely. I can feel the "blue November days" walking through Paris, the textures and sounds of Bea's farm and delight in wondering about how the characters got to where they are in the present--the mysteries of their past. Weaving from the current scene to glimpses of earlier times is seamless. I don't want the book to end!! —Catherine Gallagher
Oh, what a story! This book had me absolutely captivated. It’s not an easy story, but such an intimate exploration into the lives of two sisters and their mother, and all of the relationships intertwined. I really did not want this book to end and have been struggling with what to pick up next. You are a gifted storyteller who is able to transport the reader to another place. I loved this reading experience and cannot wait to read whatever you write next! —Katie Kinnell
|Just turned the last page. Totally out of my genre of spy thrillers, BUT, well within the first chapter, spellbinding. You may have heard me shouting, damn Duvivier, I have to put this down. I have to sleep (night reader). Engrossing and so beautifully written. The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Earnest Hemingway to Dr. C.E. Hemingway, 1925, "Selected Letters, P. 153. "You see I'm trying in all my stories to get the feelings of the actual life across--not to just depict life--or criticize it--but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me you actually experience the thing. You can't do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful. Because if it is all beautiful you can't believe in it. Things aren't that way. It is only by showing both sides--3 dimension and if possible 4 that you can write the way I want to." Ms. Duvivier, you nailed it. It's all there. Your unsmiling prose urged me on like a silencer poking at the small of my back. Can't wait for your next read. Wishing you many praises on this and all that follow. —Tony DeMauro|
Beautiful story with really lush prose. Characters are well conceived and completely believable. I was sucked into this world and very sad to leave it at the end. I enjoy completely character-driven writing very much and this was absolutely that. Fans of Elena Ferrante and Knaussgard will enjoy this book, as it has the same lyrical style that cycles between memories and the present. I look forward to reading more from this author! —Caroline Donahue
I could not stop listening and I truly did not want it to end- the eloquent details in each story invited a visual feast, the words landed like poetry and voice of the author was just as it should be - The depth of knowing Bea, Mona & Janet along with the others felt so intimate I could experience them in my bones. Such a tender & true presentation of the complexity of relationships ...and life.
Thank you. Thank you. I look forward to what is next. —Mcheleann
As I was listening to the audio book one day I noticed that the release date was August 11th. This is also the feast day for St. Clare of Assisi. Even more poignant is that Clare’s name translates to light. Elizabeth is that bright light for me. Stories For My Sister is a beautifully written testament to the intricacies of family, the beautiful and messy relationship that is unconditional love. I find Bea is the bright light in this story. My personal journey is not dissimilar to Bea’s, ever on the hunt for my way while aiding others on theirs. I am grateful for this story and even more grateful that Elizabeth is a bright light in my world. -- Michelle Dority Kroll
Such a good book. I really loved the Bea character and hopes she writes another book about her! It was a little slow for me at first but then I couldn't put it down. Beautifully written. I hope she writes more books. -- Page Sargisson
I was drawn into the lives of the two sisters and was struck by the differences in their experiences and choices. In the end their love for each other was apparent. -- Michelle Chenard
An exquisite exploration of family, secrets and truth held tight. Lyrical prose, an engaging story, and an overall stunning read. -- Corinne Cunningham
|I was told the book was about two sisters who hate each other. Actually - while their relationship is difficult, I don't think they hate each other. In fact, I think they really love each other . . . their interactions are just complicated by age difference, not having the same Dad, a narcissistic mother who has weird relationships with men, constantly moving, etc. When life is chaotic - some people go into survival mode, creating coping skills along the way to manage it all. And when you're out of that messed up environment those coping skills may stop serving their purpose - but recognizing that & letting them go? Easier said than done. So our two main characters are showing up as adults carrying significant baggage from their youth, navigating what can only be described as a massively difficult situation even under the best of circumstances. It is an emotionally complex story told with mastery & grace; I hope to see it as a Sundance mini-series someday. -- Eileen West
The tears are still wet on my face. Your book is AMAZING. And that quote at the end...it will begin my semester next week for my classes. It is a magnificent book!-- Meg Gibson Hatton
This beautifully written book really touched my heart through the portrayal of three very different, yet admirable characters: Bea, Mona and their mother Janet. Each woman lives their lives very differently, have great weaknesses in self-esteem and make choices the Reader strongly wants to correct for them. I agree with previous reviews that we would definitely appreciate a sequel to this book, to discover particularly how Bea progresses in life. A prequel about Janet and Auntie Annie would also be highly entertaining.
-- Karen Valentin
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found that I did not want to do anything else but pick up book and read all day! I was drawn to Bea. My heart ached for her. For sense of belonging and stability. I loved that despite her upbringing she was able to become successful with work, money, and property. Funny how I read the book and relate to the characters. Thanks for a great read! -- Georgina Angelet
This book!...I absolutely could not put it down...read it on vacation at a rooftop pool...no interruptions and lots of time to just sink into your wonderful story! The characters captivated me so and were so well developed that i have thought about them long after reading the book. Initially, I thought I was just reading a great literature fiction story but then I began thinking about them as psychological sides of the same person. Bea, as the authentic, true, beautiful soul side (you, obviously) and Mona as the ego driven, fearful, self-conscious side in all of us who wants to be accepted by society and conform to all the external “should be’s”...success, beauty, positions, clothing etc. ...all the external stuff. Even the Mother figure, Janet represent societal norms and reinforcements ... relentless controlling behaviors and shaming for non-conforming. Mona’s death could be seen as the death of the ego once we realize and decide to live from the inside and trust our authentic selves. Bea’s stories (truth, beauty, and love) calm and quiet the fearful, sensitive and insecure ego side. All these thoughts on what these characters could represent were wrapped in a beautiful and interesting story that made me sad to finish the last page. So tender and full.....I can’t wait to read your next book!"-- Mary Wolf Kennedy
"This is a wonderful story. I have to tell you that I absolutely loved the way in which you ended the book--it was so evocative and atmospheric. The sudden storm, the billowing curtains, the evening song of the robin, a feeling of radiance and peace--just beautiful." -- Carla Chase
"I don’t have the time or energy right now to properly express my feelings about Stories for my Sister, but I loved it and was very moved by it. I think it’s a masterpiece!"
-- Kim Word
"The book was beautiful. I loved how it kept switching perspectives and time periods. Kept things very interesting! A lot of sadness, of course, but so much beauty, too."
-- Brandi Marie Little
Ok, I just had to tell you all this..I spent the weekend devouring your book and had a delightful morning in bed for two hours finishing it! I loved it...I was thinking this morning that I think art is suppose to move you and that is what happened to me..it really moved me emotionally....there were so many great scenes that I could feel in my stomach! you are a beautiful and talented writer!...I could never come up with the language that you used and your vivid descriptions....what else...your descriptions of the mother, wonderful..i could go on and on and on... the emotional experiences of both bea and her sister, i'm telling you, the word beautiful comes to mind, besides the writing, just the beauty of the book itself!...I love everything about it, the design, the size, the type, all of it... -- Sarah Michaud
OMG this one was delicious. I almost didn’t read it because the cover was a little hokey but then....you can’t always judge a book by its cover!!! It was so obvious to me that we were looking into the author’s brain and seeing the world through her eyes with this book. Every sentence, every line, every description- it was all so lush and gorgeous. She was speaking of her own experiences and those are far and away always translate to the best books. One doesn’t need to know much about it other than it is the story between two sisters and their mother, and it is glorious. Often you see these stories played out and they are uninspiring and contrived. Not this one. It’s about the ebbs and flows and the meandering pathways of life and relationships and lessons learned and it is astounding. The absolutely lush prose which serves as the backbone of this novel is something you don’t see too often in modern literature anymore. This woman has a gift- at times I would find myself just closing the book and hugging it, trying to absorb it in a different way. Ugh marvelous. Contender for best piece of fiction read so far this year. -- Madeline Benoit
FIVE STARS! "This book was packed with raw emotion and gorgeous writing
I’m a sucker for books about relationships between family members and even more so, between sisters. Sisters Bea and Mona are seven years apart in age and light years apart in personality. They are forced to be by each other’s side when Mona falls ill and Bea must be her caretaker. As the chapters switch between each sister it becomes clear how different they are. Mona is direct, chic, and lonely. Bea is a free spirit who got a little lost, but also an intellect. Each chapter starts in present as Bea is caring for Mona but tells small snippets of their childhood. Their mother, Janet, is present during these flashbacks which gives some context about being a single mother in the 1980s. Slowly, the reader sees how their relationship became what it is and why they were never close.
• As an older sister, this book hit my emotions hard. Within the first 30 pages, I was thinking about if this scenario happened with my sister and I. Luckily, my sister is healthy and we’re close. But this book put me in all the feels. Duvivier’s writing style also adds to the poignancy of the book. The writing is descriptive and poetic, making it easy to invest in the characters and their relationship. This book gave me the same vibes as Normal People by Sally Rooney and Fates and Furies by Lauren Geoff, but instead of a romantic relationship it was a sibling relationship."
— Emma of @emma.reads.and.drinks
"I just wanted to tell you I started your book yesterday and can not put it down! I read it until my body said “sleep!” And now I am begrudgingly going to work and have to wait until tonight to get back to it! IM LOVING IT! Update: I loved it. I freaking LOVED it. Your details sucked me right in. I loved the characters and didn’t want to drag myself away from their stories. So beautiful. Thank you for it! It’s been difficult trying to read during all the crises, I picked up and put down so many books! This was such a joy! (even though I cried a lot and am still crying!)"
— Bernadette Vaughan
"Finished reading “stories for my sister “ earlier this morning. Brava! I found it evocative and unsettling, touching, and eloquent."
— Rabbi Navah Levine
"This is a book to get lost in — you will be surprised and moved by Mona and Bea’s emotional journey. You will feel like you have known them forever — and seeing their lives, loves and losses— you will be reminded that the truth of our own stories is often revealed by those closest to us. " — Tara Murphy