The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

A story of sisters, of books, of home. It sounded perfect, and it very nearly was.

At the centre of that story is a father who loves Shakespeare, who regularly speaks in quotations, and who, of course, named his three daughters after Shakespearean characters.

  • Rosalind (Rose) was the eldest, and she willingly accepted the role of sensible, steady big sister. She built her life close to home, and followed her father into the realms of academia.
  • Bianca (Bean) was the middle child, and she was much less taken with life in a small college life. She grew up dreaming of the big city and she flew the nest for New York.
  •  Cordelia (Cordy) was the youngest, and she floating through life with no real ambition, always travelling and never settling.

All three are wonderfully drawn, complex characters. They are so very human, and so very fallible. And all three face crises that draw them homewards at the same time that their mother is diagnosed with cancer.

Meeting the three individually at the start of the book was intriguing, but it was when they were reunited back at the family home that the story really began to sing.

“Would we have chosen to come back, knowing that it would be the three of us again, that all those secrets squeezed into one house would be impossible to keep? The answer is irrelevant – it was some kind of sick fate. We were destined to be sisters at birth, apparently we were destined to be sisters now, when we thought we had put all that behind us.”

The complex relationships between the three – the understanding, the resentments, the fellowship, the role-playing, the support, the love, and so many other sisterly things that I can’t quite put a name to – were quite beautifully drawn.

It was wonderful to watch them, inevitably, fall back into the patterns of their childhood, to watch them realise what was happening, and then to watch them move towards more grown up ways.

Their stories, together and apart, as they came to terms with their mother’s mortality and as they faced their own futures, were perfectly pitched and they stirred so, so many emotions.

At times those stories were a little predictable, a little slow, but that is the only thing that made this book a little less than perfect.

The Weird Sisters is a book to read, not so much for the plot, as for the characters and the emotions.

And for the most wonderful thing of all, that I haven’t mentioned yet. The narrative voice is simply sublime. It is the voice of the three sisters, shifting between them so that one, or sometimes two, always speaks of another.

That allows the three to shine both as sisters and as individuals. I miss the them now that we have parted company, and most of all I miss that voice.

11 responses

  1. I won a signed copy of this from the author a few weeks ago (I think you did too, is that right?) so I’m looking forward to reading it. I love that it is set around books – if there’s ever a way to draw me in then that’s it! 😉

  2. Boof, I won a signed copy from Eleanor’s blog too.

    I’m really looking forward to reading this after reading your review, Jane. It reminds me of the wonderful Wise Children by Angela Carter which also draws on Shakespearean inspiration.

  3. If it comes up on Amazon Vine this week, I might pounce as well!

    It sounds like my sort of book indeed, you have described it so well I am certainly wanting to listen to these sisters. The premise of the book has been used before but it is always interesting to see different authors take on it.

  4. I always love books about sisters because I have three of my own. We are very close in age and we have no brothers, so I can usually relate to books that deal with sisterly relationships. I think that explains, in part, why Little Women was my favorite book as a kid!

  5. I really enjoyed this book, although I thought the first half of the book was stronger than the second half. Still, for a first novel it shone! And I loved the constant quotes from Shakespeare and the unique narrative voice.

    You wrote an excellent review!

  6. Pingback: The Weird Sisters – Eleanor Brown « The Book Jotter

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