Book: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication date: 2011
Summary: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown are three young women who return home, having failed in three different ways in their first attempts at adult lives, to care for their mother with cancer. The father is not absent, exactly, but he is the quintessential absent-minded professor, specializing in Shakespeare. This book braids the lessons of each of the three sisters into one story about finding identity and purpose in the modern world.
Thoughts: The plural first person point of view (occasionally slipping into second person) took some getting used to, but it felt familiar from the beginning. My brother and I, for all of my memory, have been a “we” separate from our parents. We remain so, even though our parents are gone. We can be “we” even when we’re alone as we are in this paragraph. That is what the author explored with the point of view, which was oddly distancing at some points and inclusive at others.
I appreciated the ways that the three sisters worked out their identities as ways of defining themselves in terms of the other two. And, eventually, matured into increased possibilities by selectively rejecting those limits. In the last couple of years, my brother and I have spent much of our time when we are together writing. One story we could tell about our talents and histories is that we both should have been writing long ago, but we each mistakenly yielded that grounded to the other. He was always the better story teller. I was always the one better at organizing things on paper. Only now, mature enough to own our skills and appreciate each other’s talents, are we both able to take to writing as a serious activity. I’m not sure I will vouch for the veracity of that viewpoint, but I like the equilibrium it describes. Perhaps I would hesitate to use it as the premise of a personal essay without more thought to what is true, but it would make a good basis for a story.
My appreciation for this novel was heightened by recent explorations into Shakespeare. I wrote about my approach to MacBeth (Book Review: Macbeth by William Shakespeare). I did a similar, but less comprehensive, exploration of Hamlet last fall. Having those two plays fresh in my mind increased my enjoyment of the novel. It would have helped to have had similar familiarity with As You Like It, King Lear, and Othello. But the book was certainly readable without that.
Appeal: This is a book for book people, English majors and people who wish they had majored in English. It is not, I think, too racy for mature young adults and might, in fact, help them think through some of the issues that we all encounter in our twenties before they encounter them in real life. This strikes me as more of a woman’s book than a man’s, although a man might learn a lot about women from this book!
Reviews: There have been many reviews of The Weird Sisters on book blogs. These are the ones that prompted me to read it:
- The Weird Sisters at Scuffed slippers and wormy books
- Review: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown at Sophisticated Dorkiness
- Review: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown at Beth Fish Reads
Have you read this book? What did you think?