Title: The Weird Sisters
Author: Eleanor Brown
Release Date: January 20, 2011
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Andreas girls are finally coming home. Rose (named after Rosalind) lives near her parents and sees them regularly, but Bean (short for Bianca) has been living the high life in New York City. When everything comes crashing down around her, Bean limps back home to lick her wounds and reassess her life. Then there’s Cordelia, the baby. After she receives some shocking news, she decides it’s time for her to return home and figure out her next step. These three “weird” sisters return back home to their father and his love of Shakespeare in order to care for their mother while she undergoes treatment for cancer.
I had extremely high hopes coming into The Weird Sisters. I thought the premise sounded great, as I love books about sisters, and on top of that, it’s an Amy Einhorn novel. I’ve learned that Amy Einhorn usually means high quality, fun, and incredibly readable books. It’s a difficult expectation to live up to, yet Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters actually surprised me with how heartfelt, entertaining, and intelligent it was.
The Weird Sisters centers around the works of William Shakespeare. The sisters’ father is one of the leading Shakespeare professors and scholars, and as a result they were raised on the words of the Bard. Indeed, their father continues to communicate with them through lines from Shakespeare’s plays, and they must struggle to decipher his meaning. Additionally, all three women are readers and are very proud of that fact. As a result, this book is really smart. In some ways, it’s a love story to reading and to the power it can have over all our lives. As an avid reader, I adored this aspect of the novel and loved how seamlessly Brown wove it into the narrative.
It’s very difficult to pick my favorite sister – Rose, Bean, or Cordy – and that’s saying something. Usually, in books with multiple main characters, it’s hard to make all of your protagonists appealing while still being honest about their faults and darker sides. I couldn’t believe how much I cared about these women, how invested I was in their lives. Even Bean, who is very self-destrucive, captured my heart. While her antics might have been frustrating in a less fully realized character, they were a part of Bean. I had no trouble seeing that and rooting for her from beginning to end. I really respect Eleanor Brown for her ability to develop such true, three-dimensional women. It astonishes me that this is her first novel because she has the finely honed skills of someone with much more experience under their belt.
I don’t usually talk about literary devices in my reviews, but I can’t help but mention one thing that really jumped out at me – the narrator. The novel is told in first person omniscient – that is, the narrator knew what was happening individually in Bean, Cordy, and Rose’s minds. At the same time, though, none of these individual women were the narrator. However, the narrator referred to “we,” meaning the three sisters. It’s as if the sisters somehow made one whole, and it was that single entity, a part of each woman, that was narrating the story. It was so interesting and I really loved how it created intimacy between the three sisters, making it clear that the reader was outside their unique bond.
I absolutely loved The Weird Sisters for so many reasons – the great writing, the sheer intelligence of the book, the true portrayal of what it means to be a sister. This is a book that isn’t about genres. Instead, it’s about relationships, about sisters, about books that stir the soul, and about love and loyalty, a must-read that I can’t recommend highly enough.