Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown: A Review

The Weird SistersThe Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Weird Sisters is the story of the three Andreas sisters -- Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia (daughters of a Shakespearean scholar father). The novel opens with each sister facing the shared crisis of their mother's diagnosis of breast cancer and their own respective predicaments as well. The eldest, Rose, is torn between following her fiance to England or staying home to care for her mother. Bean has lost her job in New York for embezzling from her employer. And Cordy, the wayward gypsy of the family, is pregnant (not a spoiler...this news comes early). And so the three sisters find themselves living together again at their parents' home in Barnwell, OH. But rather than finding easy comfort and solace there, they are instead forced to face their fears, their demons, and their uncertain futures.

Told in the first person plural, it reminded me a bit of Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides, but this narrator is somehow (and strangely) the voice of all three sisters, and, as a result, the voice of none of them at all. At first, I had difficulty because this narrative stance defied all those rules of point of view that have been hammered into my head over the years. Initially, it felt a bit self-conscious, but after I grew accustomed to it, it was less distracting. I must admit, I kept waiting for each of them to gain their own voice (as in a first person narration) by the end of the novel, but the collective narrator remains.

Regardless. There are so many wonderful things about this novel:

First, there is Barnwell itself. It's a perfect little town; it reminded me in so many ways of my own hometown (as well as my own fictional Quimby and Two Rivers). I could live there.

This is also a book for book lovers. Their father is a fountain spouting Shakespearean quotes. The library, the library! And a three book-toting girls. (Of the three sisters, I do think I liked Cordelia best, and found myself most invested in her, but the other sisters were both beautifully flawed and somehow still likeable.)

Lastly, the writing was lovely and often funny. This book was cozy. I really, really loved it.

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