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The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

The Weird Sisters (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Eleanor Brown

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1,6731764,286 (3.56)110
Title:The Weird Sisters
Authors:Eleanor Brown
Info:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2011), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (2011)

  1. 00
    The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice (Cecilturtle)
  2. 11
    Juliet by Anne Fortier (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Both books center on heroines named after Shakespearean characters and deal with the theme of a destiny or personality based on their literary counterparts.
  3. 11
    Sisters by Danielle Steel (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Similar story line - 3 sisters who come home to deal with a family crisis and end up facing their own demons.

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Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this book. ( )
  INorris | Apr 1, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this book. ( )
  INorris | Apr 1, 2015 |
The Weird Sisters is a novel by Eleanor Brown about the Andreas family, particularly the three sisters, Cordelia, Rosalind and Bianca. Their father speaks in Shakesperian verse.

I wanted to like this book. And its not that I disliked it. I had a mixture of both. There's not a great deal going on in the book to make up for the off putting aspects is the biggest problem.

All of the girls come home because their mother has breast cancer. Rose never left. But, the story isn't really about her. She's what brought them together.

The book is told in what appears to be a collective voice of all three, but again, not entirely. So, you lose track of if its the communal voice or a sort of individual voice. This is without a doubt the most confusing part of the book. But, though there are part of the story where it is interesting, it keeps losing it. To be honest, I am not sure why I kept reading it. I generally lose patience with books that I don't care for. Which probably explains why there are so few that I review with bad marks. I can't make it all the way through. Well, I suppose since I made it through this one, I ow it at least a 2 star, but that is a bare 2 star.

March, 2015 ( )
  sephibitchwitch | Mar 10, 2015 |
Rose, Bean, and Cordy are the "weird sisters" of the title - which is a play on the characters from Shakespeare's Macbeth. In the Bard's time, the word "weird" (or "wyrd") had a different connotation than it does today, implying the effects of fate rather than being strange.

Shakespeare is all over this novel. The three Andreas sisters are daughters of a professor of Shakespeare at a small Ohio college. They are named for Shakespearean heroines: Rosalind (Rose) from As You Like It, Bianca (Bean) from The Taming of the Shrew, and Cordelia (Cordy) from King Lear. They are now ages 36, 33, and 30 respectively. They all wind up back at the family home at about the same time that summer, partly because their mother has breast cancer.

But there are other reasons too. Cordy has been wandering the country like a nomad since dropping out of college, but now finds herself pregnant. Bean zipped to New York City after earning her degree, but has been fired from her job for embezzlement, done to support her expensive tastes in clothes. Rose has a Ph.D. and teaches math at another Ohio college, and is engaged to marry a professor in another field, Jonathan. However, he's gone to Oxford, England, and wants Rose to join him, but she feels responsible for taking care of her mom.

The girls are readers (the whole book is a great celebration of reading), and their father in particular communicates with them via quotes from Shakespeare. Indeed, the book is full of his quotes, which I loved (although you don't have to be familiar with Shakespeare's works to understand the book). I wasn't too crazy about some other aspects of the book, though.

As another reviewer pointed out, Bean gets off unrealistically easy with her embezzlement (her employer just wants to be repaid and does not press charges). I also found it rather unrealistic (and insulting, being a librarian myself) for Bean to take over the town's library (operated by just one person?) AND implement a computerized library system with little experience and no formal training. (Is it clear that Bean was my least favorite character? I didn't find her particularly likeable - she sleeps with the husband of a favorite professor through much of the book.)

Cordy and Rose are stereotypes of the youngest child and oldest child in birth order, respectively. I liked Rose the best, possibly because (being the oldest) I could totally relate to her feelings of responsibility and obligation (and indispensability) towards her younger siblings and aging/ill parents. I was glad to see her change a bit as the story progressed.

I could also empathize with the tag line on the audiobook cover: "See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much." Just how my two younger sisters (who are nothing like Bean and Cordy) and I feel about each other!

The story is told mostly in first person plural - lots of "we" and "our mother" (or father or parents) even when the thoughts, words, and actions of only one sister are being described. In a Q&A on her website, debut author Eleanor Brown says "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."

Actress Kirsten Potter's smooth narration added a lot to my enjoyment of this easy read.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[The audiobook was borrowed from and returned to my local public copy. I got a hardbound copy of the book in a book exchange, which I plan to keep and re-read. This review also appears on Bookin' It.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Feb 18, 2015 |
I think this might be the best book I have read all year. It was fantastic! It is about 3 adult sisters who return to their childhood home about the same time their mother receives a diagnosis of breast cancers. Each sister returns carrying her own burdens which are eventually divulged to the other sisters. The sisters are each named after a Shakespearean heroine as their father is a Shakespeare professor at the local liberal arts college and throughout the book there is a smattering of Shakespearean quotes and references. The author did such an amazing job of telling the story, I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but it was vivid and alive! Highly recommend!
  weejane | Nov 12, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
"Indeed, The Weird Sisters is a book worth celebrating. Because their father is a renowned Shakespearean scholar, the Andreas family communicates largely through the words of the Bard. It is not unusual for them to drop Shakespearean quotes into a conversation about, say, wedding rings or what to eat for breakfast."
added by clamairy | editBookPage, Amy Scribner (Mar 2, 2011)
There are times when the sisters are exasperated by the burden imposed on them. “Sometimes we had the overwhelming urge to grab our father by the shoulders and shake him until the meaning of his obtuse quotations fell from his mouth like loosened teeth,” they say. Readers may sometimes feel similarly about Ms. Brown but more often appreciate the good sense and good humor that keep her story buoyant. She does have storytelling talent. Or, to quote one of the Weird Sisters quoting you-know-who: “This is a gift that I have; simple, simple.”
Eleanor Brown's likable debut novel is the story of three grown sisters who return home when their mother falls ill.....The first third of the book moves slowly, with too much explanation of who the sisters are, and too much insistence on how different each is from the other, and a sort of bulky setting-up of their rather implausible situations, and -- enough, already! Get the story moving! And when it does start moving, it is a delight.

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But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt, Miss Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?" -- Dylan Thomas, A Child's Christmas In Wales
I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters. -- William Shakespeare, Macbeth
To Chris, For springtime, for a rock-and-roll show, forever
First words
We came home because we were failures.
She never managed to find herself in these books no matter how she tried, exhuming traits from between the pages and donning them for an hour, a day, a week. We think, in some ways, we have all done this our whole lives, searching for the book that will give us the keys to ourselves, let us into a wholly formed personality as though it were a furnished room to let. As though we could walk in and look around and say to the gray-haired landlady behind us, "We'll take it."
We were fairly certain that if anyone made public the various and variegated ways in which being an adult sucked eggs, more people might opt out entirely.
She narrowed her eyes and considered the array of potential answers in front of her. Because I don't spend hours flippping through cable complaining there's nothing on? Because my entire Sunday is not eaten up with pre-game, in-game, and post-game talking heads? Because I do not spend every night drinking overpriced beer and engaging dick-swinging contests with the other financirati? Because when I am waiting in line, at the gym, on the train, eating lunch, I am not complaining about the wait/staring into space/admiring myself in available reflective surfaces? I am reading!
What if the name you were given had already been lived in?
He was not a reader. And that was the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put.
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Book description
Unlucky in work, love, and life, the Andreas sisters return to their childhood home. Each has a secret she's unwilling to share — each has come home to lick her own wounds.

The Andreas family is an eccentric one. Books are their passion (There is no problem a library card can't solve), TV something other families watched. Their father — a renowned professor of Shakespeare who communicates almost exclusively in verse — named all three girls for great Shakespearean women — Rose (Rosalind), Bean (Bianca), and Cordy (Cordelia) — as a result, the sisters find that they have a lot to live up to.

With this burden, the Andreas sisters have a difficult time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another.

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 has Cordy suddenly resurfaced after years of gypsy living? Each sister has found her life nothing like she had thought it would be — and now, as they are faced with their parents' frailty and their own disappointments and setbacks, their usual quick salve of a book can't solve what ails them.

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Unwillingly brought together to care for their ailing mother, three sisters who were named after famous Shakespearean characters discover that everything they have been avoiding may prove more worthwhile than expected.

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