The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – Book Review

In Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters, Rose, Bean, and Cordy are sisters at a crossroads in their lives, and are suddenly living back home together just as their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer (for which she begins treatment). Their father is a renowned Shakespeare professor, and when he bothers speaking, it’s often in Shakespearean verse- so it’s a lucky thing that the entire family is steeped in the knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays. Each of the sisters has complicated issues to work out while back in the confines of the small college town where they grew up. They expected they had escaped for good.

Bean has let a scandal in her beloved New York run her home, while Cordy struggles to make  a decision on a newly acquired secret she’s carrying, and Rose still does her best to manage all the family burdens- but has to decide whether to set them down long enough to follow her own heart. The Andreas sisters have often been at odds with each other, and if you think adulthood has made them more tolerant and understanding of one another, think again.

The Weird Sisters is an absolute pleasure to read. It’s rich with literary references, girls curled up in nooks and reading for comfort and relief,  and college/small-town charm. The voice of the story is unique, but rather than become a hindrance, the plural collective of the sisters (which is how the story is told), becomes like a less judgmental and infinitely more reasonable fourth sister. She lovingly relays the story of the Andreas sisters’ trials and tribulations with gentle compassion, and puts their historical and present actions into perspective. Brown perfectly expresses the subtle and competing dynamics within a family, and among siblings in particular, as they juggle   to find their places within the family, and then the world. My heart was with each of the sisters as they cope with not only their own failings and setbacks, but their mother’s illness and the looming specter of death.

The language in this novel is a reader’s delight. It is richly woven with savory passages and lovingly balanced portraits of the sisters. The  history of the town is crystal clear and finely detailed. Barnwell sounds like a place you’d love to grow up in. This is a lovely novel. It will have you laughing and crying over the uneven relationships within this tight-knit family, and among sisters who don’t always like each other (really!), but who certainly do love each other. Highly recommended.

Read More Reviews At: Erin Reads (Audiobook) - Amused By Books (Audiobook) - Books and Movies - Lifetime Reading Plan - Beth Fish Reads - Devourer of Books

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Review copy.

12 Responses to “The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – Book Review”

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  1. Heather says:

    Great review. I’ve been eyeing this book for some time, but wasn’t sure if I would like it. Your review made me decide to give it a shot. Thanks, Nicole!

  2. I really liked this book too. It took me a little time to get used to the way the story narrated (by one sister then the next), but I was pulled in by the odd quirky family.

  3. Justice says:

    This was such a great book! I actually got it as an audio book, but now I want to buy the book for a more in-depth reread later. I will say, the plural collective is a little more confusing in the audio book narration, but that was a short-lived oddity.

    My review: http://cheapblackpens.tumblr.com/post/17327415545/book-the-weird-sisters-author-eleanor-brown-my

  4. Carrie K. says:

    I adored this book so much – reading your review makes me want to read it all over again! (Thanks for linking to my review.) :)

  5. Thanks for your beautiful review. I would probably have gotten more out of it reading it rather than listening to it. here is my review: http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/10/27/78-the-weird-sisters/

  6. I’m reading this right now and thought I was the last person in the world to do so. I’m finding it delightful! Did I mention that Eleanor Brown is doing a lunch here Saturday? I can’t wait!

  7. Sandy says:

    I love how you interpreted that collective voice, and you are right…it is like the reasonable fourth sister. I would think this was right up your alley too with all that Shakespeare love. My book club read this, and we all agreed that if our fathers had been spewing the Bard in such a way, we would have gone crazy. Eleanor came down to Orlando last spring for our book festival and she was a total treat.

  8. zibilee says:

    We read this for book club and it was such an amazing read! I loved it and would love to read it again. You make a great point about the collective voice of the narrative being like a character in itself. I loved this review, and thought that it was extremely well written and very perceptive!

  9. I really did adore this book. I love any book in which the characters read. I’m surprised more authors don’t do that. You’re right about the language, it really is made for reader (which should be said about every book-but really can’t be). Wonderful review.

  10. Andi says:

    I can’t wait to read this one. The premise is fantastic, and Eleanor Brown is the nicest author one could meet. :)