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Friday, February 4, 2011

A great Valentine's gift to yourself- The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Published by Amy Einhorn Books
Hardcover $24.95

There is nothing more delightful than reading a new author and falling in love with her novel. Amy Einhorn Books, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group, has a fabulous track record of introducing me to such new authors as including Kathryn Stockett (The Help), Mark Mustian (The Gendarme), Sarah Blake (The Postmistress) and Kelly O'Connor McNees (The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott).

The newest release from Amy Einhorn Book from Eleanor Brown, The Weird Sisters, and she emerges as one of the brightest new voices in literature. The tag line of the novel is "See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much." That line alone on the cover just grabs the reader right away.

Rosalind (called Rose) is the eldest daughter, a math professor who has finally found love after many years alone. Her fiance is living in England temporarily for a teaching position, so Rose is living at home in their small town in Ohio, taking care of her mother who has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Rose is the dutiful daughter, the one who had always kept the entire family in line. Bianca, (called Bean) the glamorous middle daughter, was living in New York City and slunk home after her employer caught her stealing money from them. The youngest free spirit daughter, Cordelia (called Cordy), also turns up home with a secret after years of living from hand to mouth, traveling the country following itinerant bands.

Their father is a Shakespeare professor, thus the girls names. He is pretty much the absent minded professor, and I loved the fact that his character functions as almost a Greek chorus, tossing in Shakespearean quotes to comment on the plot. You didn't need to know Shakespeare to appreciate this book, and most of the quotes will be familiar to anyone who read it in high school (ie- all of us).

Early on in the story, Bean's boss says to her after he catches her stealing,
"You may have lost your way more than a little bit, but I believe you can find your way back. That's the trick. Finding your way back." 
And that is the theme of this amazing book- the Weird Sisters finding their way back. (The Weird Sisters were the name of the witches in MacBeth). The sisters spend the summer figuring out how they got where they are, and how to get where they should be.

Rose has to decide if she can leave the only home she has known to be with the man she loves. Will her family survive without her holding them together? Bean left the excitement and loneliness of the big city; can she admit her shame and start over? Cordy has always been the baby of the family; can she take responsibility for her own life?

Brown's does a terrific job with her characters. She describes the mother as
"capricious, likely to be struck by a whim to prepare a four-course meal on an ordinary Wednesday, and then struck by equally strong whims to wander off in the middle of that preparation and take a soothing bath, or pick up the book that she had been reading earlier and involve herself in that world for a while until the pasta water boils away and the smoke alarm (hopefully) brings her back to reality."
The sisters are the best drawn characters, but even the minor ones- the coffee shop owner, the professor Bean has an affair with, Rose's fiance, the pastor- all are well developed. Sometimes in novels like this, the male characters are stock, but not here. Care is taken with each of them.

The writing is gorgeous. What makes the voice unique here is that it is written as if one of the sisters is the narrator, but she is an omniscient sister. I don't recall reading another book with this specific point of view, (I've seen it called a plural narrator) and it works so well here.
"In love too, Cordy has always been compliant. While Rose searched and Bean made herself available, Cordy had rarely bothered to seek anything out."
Voracious readers will relate to the fact that everyone in this family reads constantly. There are books all over the house, in every room, dropped wherever the reader last read a page. No matter where they are, each of the sisters will pull a book out of her respective purse to steal a few precious moments of reading. These are my people.

The complex sisterly bonds are explored with great depth here.
"Sisters are supposed to be tight and connected, sharing family history and lore, laughing over misadventures. But we are not that way. We never have been, really, because even our partnering was more for spite than love. Who are these sisters who act like this, who treat each other as their best friends. We have never met them."
The better I like a book, the more sticky notes I have in the book, and my copy of The Weird Sisters  looks like Don King's head- stuff sticking out all over. I love this book!

Anyone with sisters will relate to this stunning novel, but even if you don't have a sister, or you wish you did, you will still enjoy the beautifully crafted story, with lush words and characters whom you wish you knew in real life. Give yourself a Valentine's present this year and buy The Weird Sisters.

Rating 5 of 5 stars


  1. I've picked this up on in the bookstore a dozen times. I'm glad you liked it. Hopefully, I'll get around to it one of these days.

  2. Anyone who is a reader will relate to this sisters.