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The Daughters

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  571 ratings  ·  105 reviews
In this virtuosic debut, a world-class soprano seeks to reclaim her voice from the curse that winds through her family tree.

Since the difficult birth of her daughter, which collided tragically with the death of her beloved grandmother, renowned opera sensation Lulu can't bring herself to sing a note. Haunted by a curse that traces back through the women in her family, she
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 3rd 2015 by Liveright
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Average rating 3.22  · 
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 ·  571 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Althea Ann
Oddly, my second book about an opera singer that I've read this year, following Alexander Chee's historical melodrama:

This one, however, is a contemporary tale. Lulu, the singer, has recently given birth to a daughter, and is still physically recovering from the ordeal. She's also having quite a lot of stress regarding her secret: the girl is not her husband's child. Does he suspect? Should she tell him? On top of that, there are the questions likely
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the (many) things I found stunning about this novel is the way it doesn't just walk a line between realism and magical realism, but plays with it in a way I found to be totally fresh and actually pretty remarkable, so the reader is constantly asked to reconsider what is true and knowable, and what is wondrous and mysterious about our lives and the way we tell them into being through story. Exquisitely written sentences just ice it. Really worth getting lost in.
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately the synopsis was more interesting than the plot of this book. While it wasn't particularly bad, and the writing was pretty, nothing really happened. To be honest, after a couple of disappointing misses, maybe I should just consider magical realism as being "not for me"
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Oof. I'm not even sure I can adequately sum up what reading this book meant to me. The number of times, as I read, that I felt the gooseflesh break out over my arms due to a particular turn of phrase—ah, I lose count.

At heart, Adrienne Celt has written a story of inheritance and legend, of women being led by the past into the future, of surviving and succumbing to the things they love and fear most. Essentially—read this. It's lovely. It'll be out in August, and you should get a copy.
Book Riot Community
In Celt’s dazzling debut, new mother Lulu is a world-famous opera singer who can no longer sing. According to Lulu’s family lore, when a woman has a daughter, she loses something vital…and Lulu has just had a daughter. Bouncing back and forth between past and present, The Daughters is a gorgeous, riveting story about family, mythology, and curses.

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books:
Jenn Fields
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
The question at the heart of "The Daughters" is not whether the mothers and daughters of this family are cursed, but whether it's possible to escape a finely-woven web of family mythology.
Full review of Celt's lyric, dark novel at
Rhonda Lomazow
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written multi layered novel.A story full of Polish folklore opera &the complexities of Mother daughter relationships.Highly recommend this gorgeous novel.
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A friend once asked me how I define great writing. Great writing can be characterized by many things, but one particular thing that makes writing stand out for me is when beautiful words are put to complicated and nuanced thoughts, feelings, or experiences that I've had, but have been unable to articulate to others (or even myself). There is both a sense of relief and companionship in sharing the articulation of the complicated human experience.
"The Daughters" is beautifully written and I would
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book managed to keep my attention throughout, but by the end I felt as though something was still missing from the plot.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this at a good time, pregnant with my first daughter. Therefore, the parts about Luscia and her experiences with new daughter Kara, as well as the importance of new daughters with each generation, really resonated with me. The writing was often lyrical. Overall I wanted to keep coming back to it, because of the above, but I also skimmed heavily at parts, so I don't think I'd recommend it to many people.
This will be a short review, since I already can't remember much about The Daughters. Yes, it's lyrical, and it's about an opera diva, and it's about mothers and daughters and an ancient curse. It makes for a good premise, but the problem is that it goes nowhere in particular. There are a lot of things unsaid, which are fine in some books, but I didn't think it helped this one. I'll read a future book if Adrienne Celt's name is on it though, because she does write beautiful sentences.
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is literally the ten thousandth book I've read that features some combination of mothers and daughters, Eastern European country, mythology, magical realism. And thus, this review suffers because my reading fatigue. The writing was quite beautiful but holy ritz crackers, I'm bored with this niche genre.
Sara Sams
Nov 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It was as easy for me to become absorbed in The Daughters as it was for Lulu to become absorbed in her own family lore. The language is lush and insightful. Come music lovers, especially-- those of us who tend to dwell in imaginations made rounder by sound.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strange-unusual
The premise was really cool. I enjoyed the character of Ada and found her a fun mixture of loving and spunky. There were some beautifully descriptive passages in here. The Polish folklore and magic were intriguing.

My main problem with this book is in execution. It simply didn’t rise to the level of the promising premise. I found it rather boring and it just didn’t hold my interest.

While it was well-written and I’d be interested in reading more from this author, this particular book is not
3.5. I think the title is excellent. I really liked the characters but I wanted something more from them, I felt like Ada and Sara’s stories were incomplete.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed how Celt wrote about music. I felt like there wasn't quite enough pay off on the Gretta/family history aspect, but overall liked it a lot.
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

I thought that this book had prose like a swarm of bees: humming and buzzing and uncannily alive. I really loved the experience of reading the words that make up this book, which is pretty rare for me; I value prose strength as probably the least-valuable criterion for evaluation (because there are authors who are truly incredible word-artists but their books are boring).

I also really liked all the Greta stuff, which reminded me
Jan 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
I don't really understand the rave reviews. Reading this for Book Club felt like homework. I was relieved when it was finally, finally over. I feel vaguely betrayed that I put time into this story and came away with nothing. I found myself thinking, "I'm investing all this time in this book--where's the payoff to the story?" There was no insights gained, no new perspectives. I was trudging through the words like snowdrifts: The first few steps are pretty and then it just becomes hard work. And ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Pretty story and the author has a vivid imagination, but the plot didn't really come together. Also left me wondering if the author really knew much about Poland. She talks a lot about the woods and villages, and yet consistently refers to Ada coming from Poznan - hardly a village. - so I sometimes struggled to orientate myself in the story.

The names she used also threw me off. Maybe it's nitpicky, but a Polish great-grandmother called Greta? Malgorzata (or the diminutive Gosia) would be the
La Tonya  Jordan
Apr 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: If you interested in a slow read
Recommended to La Tonya by: Palladium Bookies
This was a slow read and was not as interesting as the synopsis would have you to believe. Lulu is a professional opera singer and there is a curse in her family. After the birth of a woman's first girl child, she will lose a gift. In this case Lulu lost her ability to sing after giving birth to her daughter Kara. This is how the book started. The middle of the book spoke to her childhood, the tense relationship she had with her mother, and her grandmother BaBa Ada who she adorned and the ...more
Sep 28, 2015 rated it liked it

This was a very pretty little book about a line of mothers and daughters, their musical talents, their storytelling, and so on. It centers on Lulu, a successful opera singer who has just given birth, as she meditates on motherhood and on the stories she was told of her great-grandmother in Poland. The writing here is really strong, but I did wish for a little bit /more/, particularly about Lulu's mother Sara. And about the Jewish people on the other side
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm going to try to do this without spoilers!

The Daughters deals in the many layers of connection between mothers and daughters and lovers. In her first novel, Celt manages to write with rich prose that stops just short of showing off. At times her use of description is lush, but then she drops in a gorgeous fragment to bring me back to the now.
The book's setting also telescopes back and forth in time without ever dropping the central threads of the protagonist's story. Lulu is lost in a
What I liked: the complex women, the perennial ethical discomfort of Polish families with unclear history, the opera, the mythology.

What I didn't: the heavy craft of it. It was a little like opera that way, I knew where we were going based on the tone, and it was a bit, uh, extra. That and it tried to be about too many things: motherhood and career and history and adultery and religion. I couldn't quite keep up, even though I wanted to read all of those individual stories.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It may not be for everyone but I'm s sucker for lyrical prose and imaginative story telling with a little mystery and magic thrown in. It might be considered a modern fairy tale or a cautionary tale but for me it was a glorious escape into the imagination of a gifted writer. I may just sit down and read it through again, just for the pleasure of it. NPR labeled it "seriously good writing" on their top books of 2015 and I agree.
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I did not know I was going to love this little book so much. Somehow it just riveted me with its mix of emotional reality and fairy tale.
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Starts off really strong and doesn't quite fulfill that promise, but it's still a wonderful story that captures some of the magic of this family. It's great.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Lots of telling, not much showing. Everything felt candy-coated and lacked in substance.
Carrie Waibel
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the fine line between storytelling and the truth, especially as it relates to Polish history.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
I feel that this book had the potential to tell a great story but for me, it failed to to do so.
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Adrienne Celt is a writer, cartoonist, and avid reader living in Tucson, AZ. Her debut novel THE DAUGHTERS won the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2016 Crawford Award. Her second novel, INVITATION TO A BONFIRE will be published in June 2018.

Winner of a 2016 O. Henry Prize, her short fiction and essays have appeared in Esquire, The Kenyon Review, Epoch, Zyzzyva, Ecotone,
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“It seems odd to me to think of my voice scratched into a wax cylinder, trapped like a spirit caught in a jar. Worse still a computer chip: the tip of my tongue striking my teeth, the glottal contractions in my throat, even the air that circulates through my lungs and my blood, all somehow frozen onto a thumb drive that I can toss in my purse. A song is best sustained through performance, where it can respond to the world around it. Be shaped by its surroundings. Made new. In that way it's like a story, never so alive as when it's being told.” 0 likes
“I could tell Kara a story. She has a lot to learn about me, about the past. Where she comes from, where she's going. And anyway, isn't that the function of stories? To teach our brains to dream? It would be daunting to fall asleep into the noise of complete darkness, infinite probability. Without the guide of a little narrative, a little magic, how would we know where to go when we closed our eyes?” 0 likes
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