Monday, December 27, 2010
The Weird Sisters
Is it a good idea to read a novel about three sisters with issues right before you are going to be spending the holidays with your own sisters with issues? The novel is The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I have five weird sisters myself so this seems like a perfect match. In the book the sisters are grown women trying to outrun themselves and the usual family baggage we all have. Well maybe not quite so usual. I'm going to go out on a limb here by saying that very few of us were raised by a Shakespearean scholar so maybe our baggage is as big but a little less erudite.
Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia are soon to be all at home together for the first time in years. To say that the three of them have never been close is an understatement. In truth they have been at odds with one another their whole lives. The only thing they seem to have in common is their deep love for their parents. Rosalind is the daughter who has stayed local. She wears many hats: career girl, caretaker to her parents and adoring fiancee but all those hats disguise her own fear of leaving the safety of her parents. Bianca has been in the Big City living up to Cosmo's expectations and Cordelia has been primarily out of touch and indulging in finding herself. All three of the sisters is at a crossroads in her life and has come home to nurse bad decisions as much as to help their Mother. Dealing with their Mother's illness and Cordelia's unexpected pregnancy will physically unite them. Whether or not they will overcome their animosity and become real sisters....well, you'll read it and see.
The Bard manifests himself everywhere in this novel: the title (the witches in Macbeth), the daughters names (think As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear), the plot and there are quotes from the plays all over the place. Every family has their own language. The jokes that only they get, the shorthand concocted by childish mispronunciations, misconceptions and lore in the Andreas family the native tongue is Shakespearean. I came to The Weird Sisters with only the most cursory High School knowledge of Shakespeare and I was able to get it all and enjoy it all.
Is The Weird Sisters chicklit? Sure. So are books by Anita Shreve and Allegra Goodman. It's a novel that women are going to be drawn to, not men. Is it wonderful? Yes it is. This is author Eleanor Brown's first novel and she does a terrific job. She alternates the novel's action by giving each sister her own point of view in alternating chapters without using first person---YEA! Not every second of The Weird Sisters is new and different but Brown has added plenty of her own surprises to this sisterhood novel. The writing is assured, the storyline is compelling, the relationship between the sisters is believable, there is a lot of humor and the Shakespeare theme is fun. It unifies the novel in a different way while it stretches your brain a bit without beating you over the head.