The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Our Book Clubbers group here at the Library just finished reading The Weird Sisters for our discussion this month, and it was a real crowd pleaser!  It can be tricky picking a title for a group to read together. We all have different tastes, different life experiences, and different ideas about what makes a book “good.”  This month, we all agree.  This debut novel by Eleanor Brown was a winner!

Written in the unusual first person plural, The Weird Sisters is the story of Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia Andreas.  Each named for a Shakespearean heroine by their professor father, the girls struggle to live up to their namesakes, as well as to escape the roles they are cast within the family.

Rose, the eldest, is the intelligent, responsible sister.  She wants nothing more than to teach mathematics at her beloved Barnwell, where her father is a professor of literature.  Bianca, a.k.a. Bean, is the beautiful and restless middle sister.  She wants more than anything to be somebody, even if it means breaking a few rules along the way. And finally, Cordelia, is the fun-loving, laid back younger sister.  She never takes anything or anyone too seriously.  When their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, the Andreas sisters find themselves once again living together under the same roof.   Each sister is running away from something; using their mother’s diagnosis as an excuse to return home.  The sisters will need to learn how to break out of these molds if they can ever hope to change their destinies.

Readers who recognize the Shakespearean reference in the title will be delighted with the many quotes from the Bard sprinkled throughout the novel.  Shakespeare is the first language spoken in the Andreas home.  It is the default means of communication used by their father, often to humorous effect:

Marry, sir, ‘tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers: therefore he that cannot lick his fingers goes not with me,” he said finally.

“Um, what?” Bean asked.

“I think what your father means is that since breast cancer may be hereditary it’s important that you do self-exam, “ our mother said, patting his hand as he nodded uncomfortably.

Oh.  Right.  We’re sure that’s exactly what Shakespeare was trying to say.

Reading is the number one pastime of the Andreas family.  “How can we explain what books and reading mean to our family, the gift of libraries, or pages?”  Bean even breaks up with her boyfriend over reading.  “Because despite his money and his looks and all the good-on-paper attributes he possessed, he was not a reader, and, well, let’s just say that is the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put.”

The Weird Sisters is a delight from beginning to end.  Give it a try for your next book club meeting and you will not be disappointed.   We have several copies available in our library’s book club collection.  It’s also available on CD, or may be downloaded in audio or ebook format from Overdrive.

Next month, our group will be reading I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes.  You’re welcome to join us!  Books for this and other library sponsored book clubs are available at the Adult Services Desk at the Main Library.  Hope to see you at one of them!


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