Friday, March 11, 2011
The Weird Sisters
Author: Eleanor Brown
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
The three Andreas sisters grew up in the cloistered household dominated by their Shakespearean professor father, a prominent, eccentric academic whose reverence for the Bard left its imprint on his daughters' names: Rosalind (As You Like It), Bianca (The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordelia (King Lear). The siblings eventually left home and escaped their ponderous monikers with nicknames, but their mother's medical maladies brings them back. Before long, their unwelcome reunion reveals that they all have problems: Rose is force-feeding a troubled relationship; Bean is entangled in a big city case of embezzlement; and unmarried Cordy is pregnant.
Since leaving home after high school, the 3 sisters (all named after characters from Shakespeare plays) have all been running from something that they can’t seem to name. Rose (Rosalind) is the typical eldest child. She feels a deep sense of responsibility to take care of everyone in her family. Her deep need for control and order keeps her from really living. Bean (Bianca), being the middle child, has always felt invisible. Her need to stand out in a crown gets her in over her head with her job and friends in the big city. Cordy (Cordelia), the youngest, has never had to make a decision for herself and therefore can’t seem to find direction as she wanders the country. What I found compelling is that upon returning home, they discover that what they fear the most is what saves them in the end. The ending leaves you with a sense that while they all still have issues to deal with, everything will ultimately be OK.
I enjoyed Brown’s use of Shakespearean quotes throughout the novel. Their father, who is a professor and great lover of Shakespeare, constantly uses quotes as his way to communicate with his family. As it is pointed out in the novel, Shakespeare’s use of language has long been open to interpretation. Like the sisters, the reader, on more than one occasion, is left to wonder what their father is really trying to say.
Weird Sisters was beautifully written and engaging from the first page. The characters are interesting and I know they will stay with me for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is the debut novel by Eleanor Brown. She has a bright future and I look forward to reading more of her work. I would definitely recommend this book.