Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

It's not always easy to write about a debut novel that catches you up in its magic.  There was so much talk ahead of time about Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters.   Everything you might have heard is true.  It's beautiful, poignant at times, touching.  It's a lyrical book, filled with quotes from Shakespeare.  It's definitely a book lover's story, with a family of readers, a small public library, and comments such as, "There is no problem a library card can't solve."  If you're looking for a novel for a book discussion, this debut might be it.  And, don't take my word for it.  Pick up a copy of The Weird Sisters.

There were three Andreas sisters, Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia, named by their father, a professor of English at Barnwell College in Ohio, and a lover of everything Shakespeare.  They were raised on Shakespeare, could talk in couplets, and, it was a quote from Shakespeare that informed them their mother had cancer, and asked them to come home.  So, Rose, a college professor at 33, returned home to take care of the household.  And, Bean, at thirty, fled New York, where she had stolen from her employer, and gone into debt.  And, Cordy, the youngest at twenty-seven, drifted in after seven years on the road, knowing she was pregnant.  And, none of the sisters were happy to find the others there.  As they said, "See, we love each other.  We just don't happen to like each other very much."

Each woman brought her fears with her, fears that were theirs because of their place in this unusual family.  And, they might not like each other, and they knew how to press each others' buttons, but sometimes, they knew how to take care of each other as sisters.  This is a book about relationships and individuals, family relationships, and how a family forms the people we become.  But, it's about women who needed to see themselves, not just as sisters, but as individuals, with their own strengths.  And, the three women, who saw themselves as failures, would find a way to their own strength. 

Eleanor Brown uses an unusual voice for this book, a voice that says "We" in the course of the narration.  It's a unified voice, the voice of the three sisters, the family together.  And, that voice of "We" works beautifully, somehow connecting with the Shakespeare to form a unique style for The Weird Sisters.

Shakespeare, books, libraries, sisters.  Eleanor Brown's debut glorifies all of them.  If you love books, even if you're not a fan of Shakespeare, you'll want to try this novel.  But, if you love Shakespeare as well, The Weird Sisters is pure magic from the first pages. 

Eleanor Brown's website is http://www.eleanor-brown.com/

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown.  Penguin Group (USA), ©2011. ISBN 9780399157226 (hardcover), 336p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I asked the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.




14 comments:

bermudaonion said...

This book sounds like a gem - I'm looking forward to reading it.

novelwhore said...

You're spot on with sisters being able to push each others' buttons! It was incredible to watch each sister grow throughout the story and it seemed very natural an unforced. I loved this book too.

Ingrid King said...

Another one for my list - this sounds lovely!

Lesa said...

Kathy,

I hope you enjoy The Weird Sisters as much as I did!

Lesa said...

I know we're not the only ones to love this book, novelwhore. I'm sure it's going to be popular. I did like the changes in the sisters.

Lesa said...

Ingrid,

I'd get this one as soon as you can. It's just beautiful.

lifemerging.com said...

I loved this book! One of my favorite parts was the description of Cordy as the youngest (as a youngest daughter, I totally related).

Lesa said...

Ah, so you were the one who got away with everything, huh? That youngest daughter? I'm the oldest, but I couldn't relate to Rose. But, then I'm the one in the family that went to grad school out of state, and moved to Florida and Arizona. My two sisters are still in Ohio.

Kris said...

Sounds like I need to find a copy of this one! Sounds like a wonderful story, and as the youngest of 3 daughters, it will be interesting to read a story about 3 daughters and see if my sisters and I relate.

Lesa said...

I hope you enjoy it, Kris. It is fun, when you're one of 3 to look at your family, and compare it. Mine certainly looks great compared to this family!

Melissa said...

I can absolutely admit to getting away with just about everything (though I didn't have those crazy rebellious years that my siblings had).

My oldest sister really does fit Rose's mold. She lives just a mile away from my parents in Florida. While my other sister did eventually move away, I was the one that really left it all behind as soon as I graduated. I went to college in Pittsburgh then moved to Arizona. My mom always pushed for me to get out though!

Lesa said...

Melissa,

I love it! Isn't it fun to compare yourself to the sisters in the book? And, although I'm the oldest, I'm glad I'm not in Rose's mold!

Canada said...

HE WEIRD SISTERS first-person plural point of view and its Shakespeare-spewing cast of characters set it apart from standard light women's fiction, but really that's all this book is. The sisters are defined by their birth order: responsible eldest,attention-seeking middle, and irresponsible baby. The plot is entirely predictable. Snappy writing hooked me, but ultimately I regret having wasted my time on this.

More about - Beautiful Maui Weddings by Deanne Nakamura said...

What a wonderful review. I just adored this book, too. It's such a rich and generous story, and just brilliantly told. Love her voice. I've been telling everyone I can about it!