Summary and book reviews of The True and Outstanding Adventures of The Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson

The True and Outstanding Adventures of The Hunt Sisters

by Elisabeth Robinson

The True and Outstanding Adventures of The Hunt Sisters
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2004, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2005, 352 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

This debut novel is heartbreaking and hilarious, somber and delightful, and imbued with all the love one sister can feel for another, and all the frustration too.

Olivia Hunt's Hollywood life has come to a grinding halt. A hotshot producer accustomed to first-class amenities, Olivia has just been unceremoniously fired after her last movie tanked. Her boyfriend, Michael, has dumped her. And she's not the blonde she used to be: dark roots are coming in at an alarming rate. Her next project is a well-crafted suicide note.

Then she finds out what real trouble is. Olivia's beloved sister, Maddie, is seriously ill. Maddie is living the life Olivia ran like hell from--she's happily married to her high school sweetheart and still living in the small town where they grew up. Stunned and bewildered, Olivia catches the next plane back home.

Maddie's idealism and optimism have always driven Olivia crazy. Even now, when the odds aren't good, Maddie never doubts she'll beat them. But Olivia wonders, is hope just a way of kidding yourself? As if to answer that question, Maddie challenges Olivia to produce her dream film, the impossible-to-make Don Quixote. Olivia's life then becomes a tangle of movie sets, IV drips, and letters to Michael asking him what went wrong and if they might try again. When Maddie takes a turn for the worse, Olivia has to face the hardest choices life can offer. How can one person's heart so truly be in three places at once?

Imbued with all the love one sister can feel for another--and all the frustration too--The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters is heartbreaking and hilarious, somber and delightful, and full of wisdom, joy, and grace. It is a brilliantly written debut about the unlimited possibilities of love and how hope can grow in even the darkest places

August 25, 1971
August 26, 1971
August 27, 1971


Dear sister,

My name is Olivia Hunt. I am your sister. You are inside mom. Jim is our brother. He's OK for a boy.

I had a dream about you. I was in the canoe. My hair was in a braid but it was a snake too. You came out of the lake. You crawled up my snake braid. You got in the canoe. You look like me. The canoe tipped over but we could talk under water.

Me and Jim are up here at Aunt Louise's. It's pretty nice. We go swimming. We pick blueberries. We play in the woods. I get to name you if you're a girl. Dad said Let's call her Martini. Mom said That's terrible. I don't like that name. I like the name Madeline. It's my favorite book. I'll read it to you sometime.

Other fun stuff we can do:

1. Play in the treefort.

2. Play dress up in the attic.

3. Pretend we are princesses. I have a crown. Dad will buy you one. You can't touch mine. Dad buys you whatever you want.

4. Pretend we are brides.

5. ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The Hunt sisters, Olivia and Maddie, are very different from each other. As you were reading, did you like one of the sisters better than the other? Which of the Hunt sisters do you most identify with? How would you describe the relationship between the sisters? Are Olivia and Maddie like any sisters you know?

  2. The story is told entirely in letters, all of them written by one character. What did you enjoy about this form? How well did you get to know all the novel's characters? Which letters are your favorites? In which do you think Olivia is most revealing? most truthful?

  3. The epigraph suggests that hope is a kind of happiness. Do you think that's true? Does Olivia believe that? How does her attitude ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

The New York Times - Emily Nussbaum

In both her movie and her life, Olivia struggles to provide her sister and herself with an ideal ending -- a perfect moment that will satisfy everyone. But, finally, this book is a paean to the compromises made out of love Olivia may be an unreliable narrator, but as a storyteller she comes through in the clutch.

New York Times Book Review

Wryly effective, capturing the momentum of family sorrow, the ways in which people can care for each other without ever quite coming to terms.

Marie Claire Magazine

...will have you speed-dialing your best friend to share this great read.

Time Out New York

Entertaining....Robinson's take on Tinsletown is exact and carefully shaded. . . . It's a subtle reminder of the amount of hope and humor needed to counter the panic and helplessness when life unravels on all fronts.

Time - Lev Grossman

Likely to be the first literary surprise of 2004....Tough, tender, and tearful, The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters helps us make sense of it all.

Library Journal

Olivia balances a troubled sister, aging parents, and a re-igniting Hollywood career in this admirable debut.

Publishers Weekly

Olivia's cynicism, compassion and loyalty come through as funny, real and inspiring, and the novel's epistolary format is smoothly employed. Moving but never maudlin, this is an accomplished debut.

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

Sparkling with humor and beauty, the novel is ultimately a testament to the bond between the sisters, and the strength of both Olivia and Maddie.

Kirkus Reviews

It's bright, it's clever, and it's going to be a major hit a smashing success with the press and the public....Robinson is enormously skilled at pushing the emotional buttons, but an aftertaste of manipulation lingers. There's also something self-serving about the writing, something frankly very Hollywood about it. But will it sell? Is there balm in Gilead?

Author Blurb Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections
This is one of the funniest Hollywood novels I've ever read.

Reader Reviews

Mandas

Spectacular
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. I know you should never judge a book by the cover, but in this case it was a good choice. I loved that there was a young girl dancing around. Throughout the whole book I was in awe and I ...   Read More

TJeffers

The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
I'm lucky that when I passed a sale on books that I choose an author I knew nothing about! I couldn't put the book down! With a title that said it's about sisters is what drew me to it, since I have sisters. Her outlook and take on life, love, ...   Read More

Taylro

A VERY GOOD REVIEW FOR A GOOD BOOK!!
This book is so interesting. I just can't seem to put it down. You would think that it would be confusing with it written in letters but I know exactly what's going on and I love this book. Read it if you haven't already!

Sal

Highly Recommended
A tough, tender and also very funny book which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend unhesitatingly to all my friends. The use of letters to tell the story enhanced the book in my view because one is able to interact, by filling in the gaps between ...   Read More

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