Sharing Books and Authors, with an emphasis on Mysteries.
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.