Friday, May 6, 2011
Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2011: The Weird Sisters in Eleanor Brown's delightful debut could have been weirder, considering their upbringing. Their professor father spoke primarily in Shakespearean verse, and while other kids in the bucolic Midwestern college town of Barnwell checked the TV lineup, the Andreas girls lined up their library books. They buried themselves in books so completely that while they loved each other, they never learned to like each other much. And when adulthood arrived and they pursued separate destinies, each felt out of step with the world. When news of their mother's cancer makes a terribly convenient excuse for attention-hog Bean (Bianca) and Cordy (Cordelia), the “baby” who always got off easy, to boomerang back to Barnwell from New York and New Mexico, respectively, they return bearing the guilt (and consequences) of embezzlement and pregnancy-by-random-painter. They're most terrified of admitting these failures to Rose (Rosalind), the responsible eldest, who stayed in Barnwell to teach Math and cling to her caretaker-martyr role. With lively dialogue and witty collective narration, the sisters' untangling of their identities and relationships feels honest and wise, and the questions they raise about how we carry our childhood roles into our adult lives will resonate with all readers, especially those with their own weird sisters. --Mari Malcolm
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. You don't have to have a sister or be a fan of the Bard to love Brown's bright, literate debut, but it wouldn't hurt. Sisters Rose (Rosalind; As You Like It), Bean (Bianca; The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia; King Lear)--the book-loving, Shakespeare-quoting, and wonderfully screwed-up spawn of Bard scholar Dr. James Andreas--end up under one roof again in Barnwell, Ohio, the college town where they were raised, to help their breast cancer–stricken mom. The real reasons they've trudged home, however, are far less straightforward: vagabond and youngest sib Cordy is pregnant with nowhere to go; man-eater Bean ran into big trouble in New York for embezzlement, and eldest sister Rose can't venture beyond the "mental circle with Barnwell at the center of it." For these pains-in-the-soul, the sisters have to learn to trust love--of themselves, of each other--to find their way home again. The supporting cast--removed, erudite dad; ailing mom; a crew of locals; Rose's long-suffering fiancé--is a punchy delight, but the stage clearly belongs to the sisters; Macbeth's witches would be proud of the toil and trouble they stir up. (Jan.)
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