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:

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor BrownTiny 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.

My Thoughts:

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.

Those are my thoughts. Check out The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown on Goodreads or LibraryThing, read a plethora of other bloggers’ reviews, or listen to an Audible sample!

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16 Comments

  1. I also really liked the plural viewpoint, though it took some time to get used to! I thought it was a really great book, and one of the things I loved was that the characters grew in noticeable ways throughout the story. I got the chance to meet Eleanor Brown at the UCF Bookfest, and she was just a hoot and a half. Such an incredible lady, and just an amazing author. So glad that you liked this one, and your analysis was spot on. Great review today!

  2. It’s good to hear you liked it even though you had a completely different idea of it prior to reading; sometimes when that happens, the book just doesn’t work because it doesn’t meet expectations.

  3. This sounds really interesting, and I love the title. Being a middle sister myself, I have one older and one younger, I know that sisters can be weird at times:) Relationships can be very complicated and it sounds like this book dealt with that honestly. I’m adding it to my TBR. Great post!

  4. Isn’t it funny the odd preconceptions we sometimes form about books? When I read this one, I didn’t really have any thoughts about it going in, but I was surprised at how domestic it wound up being, since to me, I thought it was going to be VERY academic in its slant. I agree that the first person plural narrative was a bit odd (and I’m still not entirely sold on it), but overall I did enjoy this one quite a lot.

  5. Yes, the plural perspective took some getting used to, but then it felt right.

    I, too, am glad that a more up-to-date knowledge of Shakespearean lore isn’t required to enjoy this book.

    Thanks for sharing…

  6. I’ve been on the fence about this one, but since I love when modern works build off of Shakespeare I need to read this one – and your review has convinced me that I’ll like it. Eleanor Brown is coming to town soon, so the timing works out great!

  7. I’m listening to the novelization of Macbeth right now (not that impressed) and the three withces are the Weird Sisters. When I heard that I practically shouted out AHA! as I realized where the title of this book came from.

  8. You’re right, there were some surprises. At first I didn’t like the sisters because they seemed like such losers, but then I realized that was the point. By the end of the book, they all had become better people. I definitely need to study up on some Shakespeare!

  9. I expected the story to be a little heavier – although, like you, I may have missed so many Shakespeare references that it read lighter. My initial opinion was greatly improved by the book club discussion. And my admiration for Eleanor Brown’s ability to narrate in first person plural lingers.

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