I’d read some good reviews of The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, so when I needed an audiobook and saw my library had this one on the shelf, I decided to give it a go for my daily commute.
About the Book:
Tiny Barnwell, Ohio, hometown to the three Andreas sisters, is the last place Bean and Cordy Andreas expect to end up. Rose is the homebody; her two younger sisters have flown far away. But when their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Bean and Cordy discover they have their own reasons to add to the list in favor of coming home.
With three grown girls home together, the unifying force of their mother out of commission, and their Shakespeare scholar of a father lost in his own literary world, things under the Andreas family’s roof aren’t exactly smooth. But back in tiny, boring Barnwell, at once familiar and foreign, the sisters have little to do but read novels — and face the roadblocks that sent them home in the first place.
Rife with Shakespeare references and rich with quiet truths, The Weird Sisters is about the ties that hold a family together and the struggle to soar in one’s own skin.
The Weird Sisters wasn’t what I’d expected. I’d been thinking it would be something a bit Gothic, perhaps, involving a dusty little bookshop and a bit of mystery. I don’t know where I got that impression. It’s not like that at all.
There were a couple of things I really liked about The Weird Sisters. First, Eleanor Brown really gets sister dynamics. At the same time, though, I didn’t think she relied too heavily on stereotypes. The relationships between Rose, Bean, and Cordy are complicated and ring true. Brown mixes childhood memories in with the storyline, giving the reader glimpses of the path the girls tread to get to where they are when we first meet them. Brown also writes in the first person plural, so that the story is told by “we” — presumably, the sisters. It caught me off guard at first, but this interesting approach came to feel right as I listened.
I also appreciated that nothing came too easily, and nothing was resolved the simple way. The girls got to where they needed to be, which wasn’t necessarily where I thought they were headed, and each got where she was going via a path I found believable. What could have been cheesy or sappy was instead satisfying and realistic.
I’m sure I missed most of the Shakespeare references in The Weird Sisters. They are constant. The characters quote the Bard to one another. “Our father,” as the narrators refer to their dad, speaks almost solely in Shakespearean snippets. The girls themselves are named for women in Shakespeare’s plays: Rose is short for Rosalind, Bean for Bianca, and Cordy for Cordelia. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sisters’ lives shadowed their Shakespearean counterparts (my Shakespeare knowledge is, sadly, too rusty to comment). I can say, though, that an intimate knowledge of the man’s plays is not a prerequisite for enjoying The Weird Sisters!
Kirsten Potter did a nice job narrating. I had thought she was a new-t0-me reader, but I later realized she’d read the production of Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín I enjoyed so much last year. I never one hundred percent forgot I was listening to a narrator and got swept away by the story, but her presence between myself and the novel was slight and didn’t bother me. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Weird Sisters on audio.