The Weird Sisters

( 509 )

Overview

This is the "delightful" (People) New York Times bestseller that's earned raves from Sarah Blake, Helen Simonson, and reviewers everywhere-the story of three sisters who love each other, but just don't happen to like each other very much...

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can't solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of ...

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The Weird Sisters

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Overview

This is the "delightful" (People) New York Times bestseller that's earned raves from Sarah Blake, Helen Simonson, and reviewers everywhere-the story of three sisters who love each other, but just don't happen to like each other very much...

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can't solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard's heroines. It's a lot to live up to.

The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents' frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them...

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

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. Eleanor Brown's first fiction has justly won praise as "thought-provoking... poignant... sparkling and devourable."

-The Boston Globe
"Irresistible."
-Library Journal
"Lovely...This novel should appeal to Shakespeare lovers, bibliophiles, fans of novels in academic settings, and stories of sisterhood. The narration is a creative and original blending of the three 'Weird Sisters' as one."
-The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Brown writes sweetly of the transition so many adults struggle to make before their parents' eyes, from children to caretakers themselves."
From the Publisher
"Irresistible." — The Boston Globe

"Lovely...This novel should appeal to Shakespeare lovers, bibliophiles, fans of novels in academic settings, and stories of sisterhood. The narration is a creative and original blending of the three 'Weird Sisters' as one." — Library Journal

"Brown writes sweetly of the transition so many adults struggle to make before their parents' eyes, from children to caretakers themselves." — The Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Boston Globe
Irresistible.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Brown writes sweetly of the transition so many adults struggle to make before their parents' eyes, from children to caretakers themselves.
Ron Charles
A family drama, gracefully costumed in academic garb and lit with warm comedy, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wished…if you know a Stratfordian who's always quoting the Bard, get thee to a bookstore…Brown is such a clever writer, and she's written such an endearing story about sisterly affection and the possibilities of redemption, that it's easy to recommend The Weird Sisters.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
You don't have to have a sister or be a fan of the Bard to love Brown's bright, literate debut, but it wouldn't hurt. Sisters Rose (Rosalind; As You Like It), Bean (Bianca; The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia; King Lear)--the book-loving, Shakespeare-quoting, and wonderfully screwed-up spawn of Bard scholar Dr. James Andreas--end up under one roof again in Barnwell, Ohio, the college town where they were raised, to help their breast cancer–stricken mom. The real reasons they've trudged home, however, are far less straightforward: vagabond and youngest sib Cordy is pregnant with nowhere to go; man-eater Bean ran into big trouble in New York for embezzlement, and eldest sister Rose can't venture beyond the "mental circle with Barnwell at the center of it." For these pains-in-the-soul, the sisters have to learn to trust love--of themselves, of each other--to find their way home again. The supporting cast--removed, erudite dad; ailing mom; a crew of locals; Rose's long-suffering fiancé--is a punchy delight, but the stage clearly belongs to the sisters; Macbeth's witches would be proud of the toil and trouble they stir up. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Sibling love and sibling rivalry are the keys to Brown's (www.eleanor-brown.com) debut novel, which revolves around three sisters each named after a Shakespearean character—Rose (Rosalind), Bean (Bianca), and Cordy (Cordelia)—who simultaneously return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother. While there is some predictability, the characters are complex enough to give the novel depth. Brown employs multiple narrative methods to tell each woman's story, sliding in and out of the third and first person with admirable skill. Actress/narrator Kirsten Potter controls these shifts well and brings the town and people of Barnwell to life. An entertaining book recommended for all fiction lovers. [The Amy Einhorn: Penguin hc was recommended for "Shakespeare lovers, bibliophiles, fans of novels in academic settings, and stories of sisterhood," LJ 10/1/10.—Ed.]—Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo
Kirkus Reviews

In a debut about growing up, secrets and failures are predictably resolved when a family crisis reunites three bright but unhappy siblings.

As the daughters of a Shakespeare scholar, the Andreas girls are no strangers to the Bard. Oldest Rosalind (known as Rose) is named after the heroine of As You Like It, Bianca (Bean) has the name of the tamed shrew's sister and daddy's girl Cordelia (Cordy) bears the name of King Lear's devoted youngest. Their "weird"ness refers to Macbeth, although the three are far from witch-like, just averagely bookish women grappling with their unusual upbringing and some dubious adult choices. Drawn home to Barnwell, Ohio, because of their mother's breast cancer, the sisters reassemble uneasily in their parents' house—footloose Cordy, now pregnant; self-hating, morally dubious Bean, sacked after embezzling from her New York employers; and overly dutiful Rose. Quirky and perky, Brown's narrative uses light comedy to balance the serious life issues. The family's habit of quoting Shakespeare at every turn is less amusing, and there's also the curious plural narrative voice—"our sister," "our parents,"—seemingly the collective point of view of all three daughters. The story itself is a lengthy account of the women facing their demons, assisted by saintly parents, friends and neighbors who offer jobs, reassurance and romance. All's well that ends well.

Readable, upmarket, non-mold-breaking escapism.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425244142
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/7/2012
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 232,006
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eleanor M. Brown

Eleanor Brown's writing has been published in anthologies, magazines, and journals. She holds an M.A. in Literature and works in education in South Florida but will be living in the Denver area, Colorado at pub date.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
There is no problem that a library card can't solve.

The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a re¬nowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horri¬fied to find the others there. See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much. But the sisters soon discover that everything they've been running from—one another, their small hometown, and themselves—might offer more than they ever expected.

ABOUT ELEANOR BROWN

Eleanor Brown's writing has been published in anthologies, magazines, and journals. She holds an M.A. in literature and lives in Colorado.

A CONVERSATION WITH ELEANOR BROWN
Q. What inspired you to write this novel?

I got serious about writing a novel the year I turned 30. I said to myself, "Self, this is the year you either do it or give up the dream forever." So, I wrote some really terrible novels in all kinds of genres that helped teach me a great deal about the craft, and finally I thought of a story I'd played around with years before, and that became The Weird Sisters.

The core of the story—three very different sisters and their belated coming-of-age—had been with me for a long time, but they were never quite the right sisters and it was never quite the right time. When I'd written absolutely everything I wasn't meant to write, I finally sat down and let the Andreas sisters in.

Q. The sisters in the novel are each named after one of Shakespeare's famous heroines: Rosalind from As You Like It, Bianca from The Taming of the Shrew, and Cordelia from King Lear. Why did you choose these three Shakespearean characters in particular, to name the sisters after? How much do the personalities of Rose, Bean, and Cordy align with their Shakespearean counterparts?

Bianca and Cordelia's names actually came first—Bianca is the beautiful second daughter in The Taming of the Shrew, so with what I knew about her character when I began, that was the natural choice. And Cordelia is the devoted youngest of three daughters in King Lear, so that was another obvious one. I struggled with Rosalind's name for much longer, but I wanted her to be a little bit in love with the idea of being in love. I had a memory of seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company doing As You Like It in Stratford-upon-Avon. There is a scene where Rosalind—this bright, intelligent, opinionated woman—is running around the forest, plucking the love poems Orlando has written for her off the branches of trees, and they had staged it so beautifully, and I just thought, 'Yes. That's exactly what she's like.' And so she became Rose.

The sisters do bear some resemblance to Shakespeare's characters, and that's something each of them wrestles with in the novel. But I didn't want their stories to be a retelling of the plays (Shakespeare's done that already, and he's rather good), so each sister ultimately follows her own path.

Q. How did the title of the novel come about? What is its significance?

For a long time, the working title of the book was "Trinity." I really wanted to focus on the importance of the number three, and religion was going to be a bigger part of the novel. But when I created the father and the family began to take shape around the form of his devotion to Shakespeare, I knew I was going to need a different title. There's a portion of the book where the sisters explain that "weird" didn't mean to Shakespeare what it means to us—the three witches in Macbeth are really the three Fates. The Andreas sisters are quite tied to the idea of destiny, and part of the story is their learning to accept what their fates really are, rather than heading grimly down the path of what they think they ought to be.

Q. The novel offers a vivid portrait of the conflicted relationship between sisters. As one of three sisters yourself, how much of the novel is based on your own sibling experience?

I don't know anyone who has a purely positive relationship with his or her family—I think it's impossible to be that close to anyone and not have moments where your family drives you absolutely crazy. And that's what the Andreas sisters have—they don't hate each other, and they share a wonderful family history that binds them whether they like it or not, but they've never bothered to discover what they love about each other. I think the core of what's difficult about having three siblings—someone always gets left out, the competition for family "roles"—is something I experienced, but the Andreas sisters are all their own.

Q. If you were one of the three sisters—Rose, Bean, or Cordy—which would you be?

I already am all three of them! I think there's a little bit of each of the sisters in all of us—a little bit of longing for adventure or glamour, a little bit of wanting nothing but safety, a little bit of care-taking and a little bit of risk-taking. I definitely drew on those conflicting desires in myself when I was creating the Andreas sisters.

Q. How do you explore the theory of birth order (the idea that sibling personalities are in part shaped by the order in which they were born) in the book? What interests you about this idea?

Birth order theory has always fascinated me—the idea that a large part of our personality comes from where we are in our family—only, first, middle, youngest—and the ways our families keep us in those roles even as we grow up. With many people I find it easy to tell where they fall in their family's birth order, no matter how old they are or what their relationship with that family is like. It's something we carry with us whether we like it or not.

With The Weird Sisters, I wondered what would happen if life forced us to step out of those prescribed roles: if you've always been the responsible one, how do you deal with being asked to take risks? If you've been cast as undependable, how could you prove that you are capable of more?

Q. The novel is in part an homage to books and reading—the Andreas family is one of compulsive readers. Their love of literature is a large part of their familial bond. What role did books play in your own life growing up?

My parents raised my two older sisters and me in a house full of books, where the most important life lesson we learned was never to go anywhere without taking something to read, and no dinner conversation is complete without the consultation of at least one reference book.

Reading was—and is—the center of my life. I was lucky to be raised by parents who considered reading the most important thing we could do. We took weekly trips to the library, filling canvas bags with books until they overflowed. I was allowed a half hour of television per week, and at the time I chafed at that, but now I'm incredibly grateful. I've always been a daydreamer, and books let my imagination run wild in the most delightful ways.

Q. The father in the novel is a renowned Shakespearean professor, and Shakespearean verse is woven throughout the book. How did this element of the book come about? Is the Bard a personal passion of yours?

The beginning of this book came about when I was in graduate school, getting my Master's degree, and some of my professors were encouraging me to go for a Ph.D. And my immediate and visceral reaction was—I don't want to know that much about any one thing. But people who do want to know that much about one subject fascinate me, and I wondered what it would be like to be in a family with someone who was so completely obsessed with a single topic.

I'm not a Shakespearean scholar, though I did take a wonderful course on Shakespeare in graduate school with a professor in whose memory the father is named—James Andreas. I've read and seen a number of the plays, but definitely not all. I did an enormous amount of research while writing the book, but a lot of that fell by the wayside as I wrote, because what I realized is that when you live in a world so focused on one thing, it becomes part of the landscape. The verse the family quotes to each other is absolutely stripped of any context or meaning; they've long ago had all the deep thoughts about Shakespeare that they're going to have. But the sheer volume of Shakespeare's work, as well as his continuing prominence, made him the natural choice.

Q. The novel is written in first person plural, narrated from the collective perspective of the three sisters. How did you make this stylistic choice? What is its effect?

Like any writer, I have done a lot of playing around with different styles and voices, and I noticed that while there were people doing first and third, and even, rarely, second-person narration, almost no one did first person plural. When I mentioned I was working on something in this voice, a professor and friend of mine mentioned Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily", and I immediately went and read it. It's a tricky voice, and I had to devise a lot of rules for how to use it—how to make it readable and noticeable without its being disruptive.

I chose it because this is a story about family, and one of the ideas I wanted to raise is that we carry our families of origin with us always. They helped form the way in which we see the world, for better or worse, and no matter how we may feel about them now, they are part of us. Even though Rose and Bean and Cordy are not close, they cannot separate themselves from their common history.

Q. In the novel, the sisters have reached a crisis point in their lives, where they have to reassess who they are and what their lives have become. How do the sisters struggle with the idea of adulthood? What does it mean to be an adult?

Each of the sisters has a strong idea about what it means to be an adult, and each of them is at least partially wrong. Each sister's figuring out how to be an adult is a major theme of the novel, and it was something I continue to wrestle with. Most days my friends and I still don't feel like grown-ups, even though we have mortgages or kids or careers or retirement savings or wrinkles, and many of us have all of the above. I wrote the book partly as an effort to figure out what it means to be an adult, and I have to say I'm still not sure. Maybe what I came out with was the idea that it's more important to build a life that's meaningful to you than to worry about when, precisely, you get to call yourself a responsible adult, and whether your version of adulthood is as good as everyone else's.

Q. In the novel, the Andreas sisters have come home in part because their mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Did this element of the novel arise out of your personal experience?

Absolutely. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a teenager (she's just celebrated her 20th anniversary as a survivor). I remember her battle in flashes—seeing her scar when she stepped out of the shower, the darkness and stillness of her bedroom in the days following her chemo treatments, the way one of our cats loved to sleep laid out along the side of her body where she no longer had a breast. I've been trying to write out what that meant to me and to my family ever since.

Q. What was your process of writing this book? How long did it take you?

The seed of it started years before I ever actually produced The Weird Sisters as it is now. I had a number of fits and starts on a story of three sisters, but when I finally got serious about it, it took me about a year to write the first draft. Writing for me starts slowly, and then I hit a point where I just fall in love with the characters and absolutely cannot stay away from them, to the point that when I'm not actually writing, I'm wondering what they're up to or what they're going to do next.

Q. When did you decide to become a writer? Was it something you always aspired to?

I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing, and I always knew, despite many people's cautions that I should do something more reliable with my time, that I'd end up as a writer of some sort.

But mostly writing is just an excuse to daydream and read, my two very favorite activities.

Q. What writers have inspired or influenced your work?

Like the Andreas sisters, I will read anything that lands front of me: shampoo bottles, grocery store flyers, short stories, magazine articles, but novels are my favorite form of storytelling. Jodi Picoult's work taught me how to manage multiple narrators, and to write not just what I know, but what I am willing to research. Maeve Binchy's writing taught me how multiple storylines can weave together and support each other, and the importance of writing loveable characters, even if they're not nice people. If I can ever produce one sentence half as beautiful as what Alice Hoffman and Pat Conroy write on their grocery lists, I'd die happy—they are two of the most lyrical prose writers I've encountered.

I'm a big fan of Steve Almond's writing, and a class I took with him crystallized some really important things about writing, lessons I took back to revisions of The Weird Sisters and the next novel I'm working on. I'm tremendously grateful to him for that.

Q. What do you plan to write next?

I'm working on a novel about love and weddings and marriage and divorce, and what happens when they all intersect.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • The Andreas family is dedicated to books, particularly Shakespeare. Would the family be different if their father were an expert on a different writer? Edgar Allan Poe, let's say, or Mark Twain? What if they were a family of musicians or athletes, rather than readers? How might that change their dynamic? Is there an interest that unites your family in the same way that reading unites the Andreas family?
  • The narration is omniscient first person plural ("we" rather than "I"). Why do you think the author chose to write the novel in this way? Did you like it?
  • Which sister is your favorite? Why? Which sister do you most identify with? Are they the same character?
  • Do you have any siblings? If so, in what way is your relationship with them similar to the relationship among the Andreas sisters? In what way is it different?
  • Each of the sisters has a feeling of failure about where she is in her life and an uncertainty about her position as a grown-up. Are there certain markers that make you an adult, and if so, what are they?
  • In what ways are the sisters' problems of their own making? Does this make them more or less sympathetic?
  • The narrator says that God was always there if the family needed him, "kind of like an extra tube of toothpaste under the sink." Is that true, or does the family's religion have a larger effect on the sisters than they claim? How does your own family's faith, or lack thereof, influence you?
  • In many ways, the Andreas sisters' personalities align with proposed birth-order roles: Rose, the driven caregiver; Bean, the rebellious pragmatist; and Cordy, the free-spirited performer. How important do you think birth order is? Do you see those traits in your own family or in people you know?
  • Father Aidan tells Bean, "Your story, Bean, is the story of your sisters. And it is past time, I think, for you to stop telling that particular story, and tell the story of yourself. Stop defining yourself in terms of them. You don't just have to exist in the empty spaces they leave." Do you agree with Father Aidan? Is it possible to identify one's self not in relationship to one's siblings or family?
  • Is it irresponsible of Cordy to keep her baby?
  • How does the Andreas family deal with the mother's illness? How would your family have coped differently?
  • The sisters say that "We have always wondered why there is not more research done on the children of happy marriages." How does their parents' love story affect the sisters? How did your own parents' relationship affect you?
  • What do you think of the sisters' father, James? Is he a good parent? What about their mother?
  • Why do you think the mother is never given a name?
  • The narrators' mother admits that she ended up with the girls' father because she was scared to venture out into the world. Yet she doesn't seem to have any regrets. Do you think there are people who are just not meant to leave home or their comfort zone?
  • Bean and Cordy initially want to leave Barnwell behind, yet they remain, while Rose is the one off living in Europe. Do you think people sometimes become constrained by childhood perceptions of themselves and how their lives will be? How is your own life different from the way you thought it would turn out?
  • When you first saw the title, The Weird Sisters, what did you think the book would be about? What do you think the title really means?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 509 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(128)

4 Star

(162)

3 Star

(122)

2 Star

(56)

1 Star

(41)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 511 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Overrated

    I tell my students all the time that one of their rights as a reader is to not have to finish a book that they are not enjoying. I am invoking that right for myself. I have made it to page 82, and I feel like I am forcing myself to pick this book up and read a couple more pages at a time. Rose is a word I can't type into this review. Bean is selfish. Cordy is just showing up in the story after her introduction in chapter one, and at this point, I don't care about her or her hairy legs and dirty feet. I keep waiting for some complex interplay between the sisters that makes their relationship interesting, but I'm not finding it. Honestly, I found the junior high read The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet a much more interesting Shakespearean connected read. Ignore the hype and pass on this one.

    16 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    disappointing

    I was so excited to get this one. The blurbs and reviews made it sound so good, yet I was disappointed to say the least. If there was a climax to this story, I missed it. The ending was flat and left me with a ho hum feeling. Wasted money.

    16 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2011

    Fantastic Debut Novel!

    I fell in love with this book from the start. Eleanor Brown is an artist with words, conveying gorgeous images that bring each of her main characters to vivid life. I loved spending time with the Andreas sisters, and their story was so beautifully compelling that I know I'll dive back in again and again. I recommend this without reservation -- what a wonderful book!

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    I recommend highly!

    I felt connected to the characters from the beginning. I'm usually drawn to books that are about readers or writers or authors so this one was right up my alley. I related to the three sisters' love of reading and how they lost themselves in a good book and enjoyed the sad stories of each and how they managed to overcome and succeed in a better life. The three sisters had different outlooks on life, three different attitudes and differed in their opinions on every debatable subject which made it interesting and real. Their mother needed them in a crisis of battling breast cancer so they all moved home where they bonded and learned much and shared memories in the loving flashbacks. This is a heartwarming story about love, family, lessons we all learn in life and bonding. I recommend highly for all.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2011

    A gorgeous book!

    Beautiful writing, compelling characters, vivid imagery--I loved this book. I was so sad when it ended--wanted to linger in it longer!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2011

    Nearly made me lose my trust in modern literature altogether

    I picked up this book and bought it, intrigued by the Shakespeare twist and the relationships. And at first it was good, they had a whole chapter written like a play...but it all went downhill. It seemed like nothing really happened, and they seemed to say more about their intelligence and how much they read then show it. I found the family relationships extremely contrived and unrealistic, they didn't resonate with me at all. In the end I wanted to throw the book in a shredder, or at least bury it so it couldn't pollute literature. Buying this book is regretful, and I'm sorry that it continues to sit on my shelf, and I hope that people don't buy this and feel the same regret.

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2011

    Highly recommended

    I really enjoyed this book! The characters are easy to relate to, and the story kept me going. I found to be good from beginning to end. I hope we see more from this author!

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    LOVED it! You won't be disappointed!

    Great story, excellent writer, I did not want it to end!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

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    A Valentine's gift to yourself

    There is nothing more delightful than reading a new author and falling in love with her novel. Amy Einhorn Books, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group, has a fabulous track record of introducing me to such new authors as including Kathryn Stockett (The Help), Mark Mustian (The Gendarme), Sarah Blake (The Postmistress) and Kelly O'Connor McNees (The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott). The newest release from Amy Einhorn Book from Eleanor Brown, The Weird Sisters, and she emerges as one of the brightest new voices in literature. The tag line of the novel is "See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much." That line alone on the cover just grabs the reader right away. Rosalind (called Rose) is the eldest daughter, a math professor who has finally found love after many years alone. Her fiance is living in England temporarily for a teaching position, so Rose is living at home in their small town in Ohio, taking care of her mother who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Rose is the dutiful daughter, the one who had always kept the entire family in line. Bianca, (called Bean) the glamorous middle daughter, was living in New York City and slunk home after her employer caught her stealing money from them. The youngest free spirit daughter, Cordelia (called Cordy), also turns up home with a secret after years of living from hand to mouth, traveling the country following itinerant bands. Their father is a Shakespeare professor, thus the girls names. He is pretty much the absent minded professor, and I loved the fact that his character functions as almost a Greek chorus, tossing in Shakespearean quotes to comment on the plot. You didn't need to know Shakespeare to appreciate this book, and most of the quotes will be familiar to anyone who read it in high school (ie- all of us). Early on in the story, Bean's boss says to her after he catches her stealing, "You may have lost your way more than a little bit, but I believe you can find your way back. That's the trick. Finding your way back." And that is the theme of this amazing book- the Weird Sisters finding their way back. (The Weird Sisters were the name of the witches in MacBeth). The sisters spend the summer figuring out how they got where they are, and how to get where they should be. Rose has to decide if she can leave the only home she has known to be with the man she loves. Will her family survive without her holding them together? Bean left the excitement and loneliness of the big city; can she admit her shame and start over? Cordy has always been the baby of the family; can she take responsibility for her own life? Brown's does a terrific job with her characters. She describes the mother as "capricious, likely to be struck by a whim to prepare a four-course meal on an ordinary Wednesday, and then struck by equally strong whims to wander off in the middle of that preparation and take a soothing bath, or pick up the book that she had been reading earlier and involve herself in that world for a while until the pasta water boils away and the smoke alarm (hopefully) brings her back to reality." The sisters are the best drawn characters, but even the minor ones- the coffee shop owner, the professor Bean has an affair with, Rose's fiance, the pastor- all are well developed. Sometimes in novels like this, the male characters are stock, but not here. Care is taken with each of them. The wri

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2011

    Boring

    This book not only had a depressing story line, the characters were very flat, led by the father who obviously was not able to speak in anything but bard (which got REALLY annoying by the end of the book). There were no family dynamics - each person seemed to have their own agenda. Would not recommend.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2011

    Adored this book!

    Wonderfully, beautifully, artistically written! I savored every word of this book. The three sisters were such dynamic characters and I could relate to each of them. A fabulous read, highly recommended!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2011

    perfect read!!!

    I loved every moment of this book. Not only is the story beautifully told, but the characters are relatable. Simply wonderful.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    Great Read

    Excellent character development and an inciteful view into the complex relationships of sisters and families. A compelling storyline. I'm looking forward to Ms Brown's next effort.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

    vastly overrated

    I waited 6 months to get this book on a library hold list. It didn't take me long to discover that I needn't have ordered at all. The main thing I've felt in trying to read this frivelous unrealistic book is "the trivialization of important issues." The sisters and their parents deal with cancer, criminal behavior, unplanned pregnancy and a host of missed communications with an aplomb to be envied, if it were not so shallow in its treatment of life's real problems. To say it's a beach read is to flatter this very silly book. The front fly leaf carries this message: "There is no problem a library card can't solve." Be forewarned!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    Beat down

    If you skip over the completly absurd amounts of Shakespeare quotes, and just read the parts that detail the characters trials then it is a decent read.

    Not only were the nods to The Bard over done, but started to seem a little smug. It felt as if the author was implying the reader to slow to pick up on her allusions to his massive body of work. I get it, you read Shakespeare and like it, good for you now lay off.

    Her use of the Shakespeare schtick did nothing to advance the characters. I found the father to be sad and empty devoid of any real depth because of all the wee old Willie stuff. Myabe the author intended for the dad to be one dimensional and virtually the most boring and useless character.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reality is anything but weird

    If realism in fiction is an art form, then characterization is the piece de resistance. Getting it right is oh so hard to achieve. Stereotyping is a common pitfall, one-dimensional personalities are abundant. But when the essence of a flesh and blood person is transferred to the page, the result is pure magic. Make no mistake, a fully actualized character does not have to be likeable. In fact, how many people are completely honorable when it comes to dissecting a real life? Would the sum total of anyone's actions, desires and motives pass such a litmus test? In Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, a trio of adult women are brilliantly captured as living, breathing human beings - snarky moments, bad decisions and all.

    Perceived failure permeates the psyche. All three sisters feel that they are not living up to expectations. Over the course of a summer, they all return home seeking refuge from the world only to find that their mother is battling for her life. Her illness may bring them under the same roof, but they have a lot of individual issues to resolve before they can come together in any meaningful way.

    Rose is terrified of change. She becomes immobilized when confronted with the dilemma of bravely starting a new life with her fiance or clinging to the safety of the familiar. She still lives and works in the same hometown as her parents, and her obstinate loyalty in remaining close to them hinders her ability for growth. Her dedication, while selfless, leaves her stifled. She would rather accept the consistency of a humdrum existence rather than push the envelope. Will she seize the opportunity for love and happiness or let it slip through her fingers?

    Bianca, a.k.a. Bean, is a Manhattan socialite in retreat. Her designer handbag didn't contain the cash needed to maintain her expensive lifestyle. Drowning in debt, she leaves everything behind succumbing to depression. She pulls the covers of her childhood bed over her head in disgrace. Small town life does not sit well with her and her pride is further wounded when she ventures out to the local watering hole alone with disastrous results. While trying to keep her financial predicament a secret, she goes on to betray the trust of a longtime friend. Will she sink deeper into immorality or will she find the inner strength to rally and pull her life together?

    Cordelia is the free spirit. Sometimes she doesn't wash. She is known to take off for months at a time with no one knowing her exact whereabouts. She's a wanderer, a drifter. Freedom is her religion. Being tied down isn't for her, until she realizes she is pregnant. Her new found sense of responsibility pricks her conscience. She's alone, and she's scared. For the first time, she wonders if she can make a sustained commitment to anyone or anything. Will she run again or will she finally put down roots - in of all places - her hometown?

    Literary buffs will appreciate the varied allusions to Shakespeare throughout. From the girls' names to their father's frequent outpourings of soliloquy, the Bard, himself, is cast in a supporting role. His immortal words intertwined with Brown's modern approach fuse together forming a literary style all its own.

    Overall, reality is anything but weird.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2011

    a master with words

    This was an exquisitely written book, with beautiful prose, and a creative delivery, having been written in what I could only describe as collective first person. I got a little hung up on that in the beginning, trying to decide who was narrating before I finally figured it out. Loved the weaving with Shakespeare's work. Very creative.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2011

    Great book, wonderfully realized characters

    I don't typically read what I think of as "slice of life" novels, but the Shakespeare theme intrigued me. I was completely won over by the author's unique voice and narration. By the end of the book I truly knew each sister and felt an emotional connection to the characters that was unexpected and gratifying. Loved it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2011

    nice sister drama

    I really enjoyed this book--the characters drew me in especially through a great voice. the Shakesperian allusios and quotes helped to illuminate a powerful story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2014

    Such good writing

    This author knows how to appeal to a woman's heart. And how to toy with her emotions! Very relatable and enjoyable.

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