The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters

by Eleanor Brown

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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...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425244142
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/07/2012
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 209,586
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

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.

What People are Saying About This

Nancy Pearl

"Here's what I adored about this book: the first person plural narrative voice (I can still hear it in my head), its realistic take on the pleasures and pangs of sisterly relationships, and a cast of complex, three dimensional characters who love reading but find that real life sometimes doesn't fit neatly - or can't be solved - within the pages of a novel.” --(Nancy Pearl, author of BOOK LUST and BOOK LUST TO GO)

From the Publisher

"Even if you don't have a sister, you may feel like you have one after reading this hilarious and utterly winsome novel. Eleanor Brown skillfully ties and then unties the Gordian knot of sisterhood, writing with such knowingness that when the ending came, and the three Andreas sisters—who had slunk home for a rest from themselves only to find to their horror their other two sisters there as wel—emerge, I sighed the guilty sigh of pleasure and yes, of recognition."
– Sarah Blake, best-selling author of The Postmistress

"At once hilarious, thought-provoking and poignant, this sparkling and devourable debut explores the roles that we play with our siblings, whether we want to or not. The Weird Sisters is a tale of the complex family ties that threaten to pull us apart, but sometimes draw us together instead."
– J. Courtney Sullivan, best-selling author of Commencement

"The Weird Sisters is a chronicle of real women, because it tells the truths of sisters. Eleanor Brown has written a compelling novel about love, despair and birth order—the themes the Bard himself had claimed and burnished."
– Min Jin Lee, author of Free Food for Millionaires

"Brown's knockout debut about the ties that bind us, the stories we tell ourselves, and the thorny tangle of sisterhood was so richly intelligent, heartbreakingly moving and gorgeously inventive, that I was rereading pages just to see how she did her alchemy. Brilliant, beautiful, and unlike anything I've ever read before."
– Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You and Girls in Trouble

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?
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Weird Sisters 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 594 reviews.
    crazyladyteacher More than 1 year ago
    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.
    bookgirl1965 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    NoseInABookLA More than 1 year ago
    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!
    BLUEEYEBE More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Cheryl Simpson More than 1 year ago
    Great story, excellent writer, I did not want it to end!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Beautiful writing, compelling characters, vivid imagery--I loved this book. I was so sad when it ended--wanted to linger in it longer!
    bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
    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
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    happyhamster More than 1 year ago
    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.
    TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
    I loved every moment of this book. Not only is the story beautifully told, but the characters are relatable. Simply wonderful.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Tribute_Books_Reviews More than 1 year ago
    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.
    KarenHerndon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I really liked this book. The story was sweet and for those with sisters I am sure one can find comparisons. The only objection I found was ( and this was tiny) was how it was being told. I kept thinking there was another sister or maybe a brother at first because it was told like from a third person perspective yet would use the word "we" including all three sisters. I found this a bit confusing at first but eventually just ignored it.,
    CandyH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This book was difficult to read and a challenge to get through completely. The sisters discussed in this story have all kinds of issues and the entire story is based on them coming to terms with these issues. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
    WeeziesBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed ¿The Weird Sisters¿ by Eleanor Brown. The story seemed to start a bit slow but once I became involved with the three sisters and their individual personalities and personal challenges, I loved the book. All three girls were dealing with their own weaknesses and strengths and the failing health and individual quirks of their own parents. This book tells a story that could be told by many other families today. Exploring and experiencing the issues of cancer, unexpected pregnancy, long distance relationships, and career choices, the sub plots all keep you captive. I could identify with and both like and dislike the characters. They were well developed and their stories were interwoven in a way that family stories ofter are. The insertion of Shakespearian comments and quotes and the experiences gained when returning to their childhood home were well described and fit neatly into the picture painted of the family. I would recommend this book as it is a delightful read.
    mazeway on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Not a fan. It felt like it was trying too hard to be Literary Fiction. I didn't like any of the characters. I felt like I was supposed to be sympathetic to the family's fetishistic worship of books, when I find that trait creepy. The father's constant quoting of Shakespeare was annoying and unbelievable and just made me picture the author Googling "Shakespeare quote turkey" to get what she wanted.
    booksinthebelfry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This was a decent first novel with many touching moments and what appear to be truthful insights into the complicated nature of sisterly relationships (I grew up with brothers, so can't say for certain!). The Shakespearean conceit wears thin pretty quickly, however, and I found the first person plural narration ... well, weird.
    Amethyst26 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Brown captures sisterhood, family, and people's internal/external complications well. After the first few chapters, I didn't want to put it down.
    CasualFriday on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I would have enjoyed this book more if I had not started it with wildly inflated expectations. The hook of this very ordinary piece of domestic fiction is that the three weird sisters of the title are the daughters of a renowned Shakespearan scholar. I expected a great deal of sophisticated literary play, and instead the numerous Shakespeare quotes are sprinkled in almost thoughtlessly, and they add little enjoyment and less meaning to the story.Rose, Bean and Cordy (Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia) are grown women (allegedly) who reunite in their childhood home to care for their sick mother. They are each damaged in their own way, and I hope it's not too much of a spoiler to say that they will be healed and nourished and changed by their forced homecoming. It's all very nice.One of my problems is that all three women find their salvation in being less than what they hoped to be. They are all like Dorothy discovering there's no place like home. Rose abandons her dream academic job to follow a man. Cordy abandons her hippie wanderings for motherhood. And, saddest fate of all, Bean abandons her glamorous, albeit sordid, urban life to become...a librarian. Okay, each of these women is lost and broken, but the author's only solution for them is a constrained domesticity that to an independent woman feels like a loss.The April 24 New York Times review points out numerous errors that the author makes in setting the book's time period. That really bothered me, too, to the point of leafing back periodically to see if I could figure out when the heck all this was supposed to be going on. These supposed contemporary women remember 45 rpm records, Peter Pan collars and fear of the atom bomb. It doesn't make sense.We all get annoyed when a writer takes on a subject we know a lot about and messes it up, but it always amazes me when *writers* mess up about libraries. The library where Bean gets a job is not automated (again, it's the land that time forgot). The library director conveniently needs a hip replacement, and has not been planning her medical leave despite apparently being the only employee in the building, so she offers the job to someone with no degree and no experience, and trains her for what librarians do, which is stamping and shelving books. Sheesh!This is a fast, light read, and I didn't hate it. I just think it's been wildly overpraised and marketed as if it had way more substance than it has.
    nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean) and Cordelia (Cordy) are the three offspring of the Andreas family. Like their namesakes, Rosalind (from As You Like It), ¿the responsible one¿ wants a true love; Bianca (the second daughter here and in The Taming of the Shrew) is beautiful and deceptive; and Cordelia (the youngest of three daughters here and in King Lear) is the most favored by their father. As the girls explain: "We wear our names heavily, and though we have tried to escape their influence, they have seeped into us, and we find ourselves living their patterns again and again."The father is a Shakespearean scholar obsessed with his subject; in fact, he rarely communicates with anyone in the family except by quoting passages of Shakespeare. The mother seems like a gentle soul who looks with a benign eye on the eccentricities of her family; not all of her is benign, unfortunately, as she learns at the book¿s outset that she has Stage III breast cancer. Rose is already at home, and the other two sisters return as well to the small Ohioan town of Barnwell upon hearing of their mother¿s illness. In the familiar cocoon of home, they also take the opportunity to re-evaluate their own lives and ascertain the difference between a definition of adulthood that is merely ¿leaving home¿ and one that means ¿taking responsibility."Discussion: The novel is written in the first person plural, which means it is narrated in the collective voice of the three sisters, even if this voice is also talking about each or all of them. It¿s very disconcerting if you don¿t expect it, and takes some getting used to; initially I thought there must be a fourth sister! Here is an example:"¿Rose had started college by then, and was doing her level best to pretend not to know us, as Bean was already making noise at some of the keg parties on campus, and Cordy was liable to be found wandering around the college¿s black box theater, clad in something strange like pink leg warmers and combat boots, so Rose wasn¿t too interested in helping, but the rest of us were all in.¿I believe the author is trying to make the point that no matter how different siblings are, and no matter what sort of hostilities there are among them, they are, in the end, still united. Leaving the rhetorical device aside (for which I didn't care much), personally, I am much more inclined to believe in the assessment of the protagonist in the book Ship Breaker, which was:"The blood bond was nothing. It was the people that mattered. If they covered your back, and you covered theirs, then maybe that was worth calling family. Everything else was just so much smoke and lies.¿In any event, these girls do cover each other¿s backs. In my reading, I found the narrator's statement not really true that ¿..we love each other. We just don¿t happen to like each other very much.¿I thought some of the other issues explored were also quite thought-provoking. Can people really change? What about if even their flaws were part of their self-definitions? Does a happy marriage always indicate good parenting? Or how about women and aging? As Bean asks after one particularly devastating night in a bar:"What do you do when¿there are women less beautiful, less intelligent, less versed in the art of the game who nonetheless can beat you at it simply because of their birth date?" And there are some lovely turns of phrase, like this one:"We are all gifted with communicating great depths of emotion through the semaphores of our sighs.¿There were some negatives in this book for me as well, however. First, as mentioned above, the collective point of view seemed ¿ perhaps appropriately - weird.Second, I thought there was a little too much of a The Wizard of Oz flavor in the plot, viz: "Will[power] alone could not make Rose brave, could not make Bean honest, could not make Cordy sensible."Third, Bean received advice from the minist
    handy1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Light reading. No prose in the writing, or pithy insights to be gleaned, but entertaining enough to keep the pages turning. I could see it as a made-for-t.v. movie (though at least not a Hallmark one).
    ParadisePorch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Brown¿s debut novel is the story of the Andreas sisters, Rose, Bean and Cordy¿named for the Shakespearean characters Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia¿who have returned home to small town Barnwell, Ohio, ostensibly to help care for their mother who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Each of the three, however, have come to lick wounds from injuries that, although we the reader know immediately, each is unwillingly to divulge to her family. They take on their old roles within the family, while trying to reconcile these with the women they have become.Brown writes convincingly about the complexities of sibling relationships. She captures the dichotomy between old lives and new. She successfully traces the growth of each sister. And she does it all in the third person plural voice that seems to call for constant attention on the part of the reader. It¿s as if all three sisters are speaking in unison and yet, when the actions of one are described, she is portrayed in the third person also. The effect is that the speakers are ever moving¿one minute it¿s all three telling the story, the next it appears to be Rose and Cordy or Bean and Cordy. This seemed to keep the story¿s voice lively. For example:"So this was it, then. She¿d been replaced. Bean and Cordy were going to the ones to put everything right¿Apparently we could have done it without her all along.So she was useless, then. We only wanted her if we were feeling too lazy to do what we were apparently perfectly capable of.If only we¿d been there to talk to her, soothe those fears, to tell her that no, we could not have done it without her all those years, it was only now, only after all we had been through, only because we had seen her managing things that we could step in and take up the reins, do our part."I also enjoyed Bean¿s struggle to return to small town living after being in NYC for several years."The whole drive home she had pictured her stay in Barnwell, imagining an ascetic, nun-like existence that would serve as spiritual penance for what she had done. She would wear drab colors and eat dry bread and her skin would take on the cinematic pallor of a glamorous invalid as she modestly turned down creature comforts. But the reality of that hair shirt was beginning to chafe already. It was Saturday night, for crying out loud. At this hour in the city, she would only just be getting ready to go out, and here she was seriously considering going to bed."Although all of the sisters have life-changing circumstances to deal with, the tone of the book is upbeat, perhaps a bit too much so to be taken as serious literature. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed The Weird Sisters and was sorry to see the book end. Four stars out of five.