Monday 1 June 2015

Brown, Eleanor "The Weird Sisters"

Brown, Eleanor "The Weird Sisters" - 2011

"The Weird Sisters", another book I probably wouldn't have opened if it hadn't been for my friend's online book club. But same as "The Wednesday Sisters" this turned out to be quite an interesting read. First of all, "The Weird Sisters" aren't called Weird at all, their last name is Andreas and their father is a professor of English literature. The title comes from the name of the three witches from Macbeth, the girls are named after different characters from different other Shakespeare plays, Rosalind (Rose) from "As you like it", Bianca (Bean) from "The Taming of the Shrew" and Cordelia (Cordy) from "King Lear". I haven't read any of those plays (I'm not a big "play reader") but know the contents of some of them.

The girls are all as different as the plays, they all have their own ways of doing things, their own dreams, their own problems. They come together after many years apart to help their mother who suffers from cancer.

The story is narrated in an unusual way, first person plural, I don't think I've ever read a book like that. The girls tell the story together, all at the same time. That way you get three different point of views on every subject, whether it is about the girls themselves or other people or situations. Makes an interesting point.
What I loved most about the book, what every reader probably loves most is that this is a novel about readers and reading. The whole family reads all the time, no matter what happens, they always carry a book with them. There is one part where Bean is asked by a friend how on earth she manages to read that many books and she thinks what she should say, that she takes a book everywhere, that she doesn't waste time with other things, but all she does say is "I don't know". It is probably easiest that way. Only those who do that already will really understand.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, it's an easy read but has a lot of depth.

From the back cover: "Unlucky in work, love and life, the Andreas sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother. But each sister has a secret she's willing to share - each has come home to lick her own wounds.

The Andreas family is an eccentric one. Books are their passion (a trip to the library usually solved everything), TV is something other families watched. Their father – a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespeare who communicates almost exclusively in Shakespearean verse – named all three girls for great Shakespearean women – Rose (Rosalind), Bean (Bianca), and Cordy (Cordelia); as a result, the girls find that they have a lot to live up to.

With this burden, as well as others they shoulder, the Andreas sisters have a difficult time communicating with both their parents and their lovers, but especially with each other. What can the homebody and shy eldest sister, the fast-living and mysterious middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Why can't Rose leave her hometown for the man she loves? Why has glamorous Bean come home from New York City with her tail between her legs to the small college town she swore she'd leave as soon as she could? And why suddenly has Cordy resurfaced after years of gypsy living? Each sister has found her life nothing like she had thought it would be – and suddenly faced with their parents' frailty and their own disappointments and setbacks, their usual quick salve of a book suddenly can't solve what ails them."

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