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Review: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Review: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown post image

Title: The Weird Sisters
Author: Eleanor Brown
Genre: Fiction
Year: 2011
Acquired: From the publish for a TLC Book Tour.
Rating: ★★★★★

One Sentence Summary: Three sisters return home after facing major failures to lick their wounds and help take care of their aging parents.

One Sentence Review: The Weird Sisters is a truly delightful book.

Why I Read It: Jen (Devourer of Books) mentioned on Twitter that she loved the author, the book description sounded like fun, and so I asked to join the tour.

Long Review: I’ve tried to start writing this review in my head many, many times, and I always get stuck after the first line: The Weird Sisters is a delightful book.

The book is the story of the three Andreas sisters — Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy) — who return home, ostensibly, to take care of their sick mother. But really, each of the girls has failed in her own way and needs the safety of home, with their eccentric, Shakespeare-quoting father, small-town acquaintances, and each other, to figure out what to do next.

Other than the, “This book is delightful!” comment, I just don’t know what else to say. So rather than just sit here staring at an empty screen trying to come up with words for a book I enjoyed so much, I decided to do a list:

5 Reasons You Should Read The Weird Sisters

1. It will help you appreciate the Immortal Bard, even if you are not a Shakespeare expert. I have a confession: I almost graduated from college having never studied Shakespeare, and I didn’t mind that much. I’ve always considered that blasphemy for an English major. I finally studied Shakespeare abroad in London when I was a senior, which helped, but honestly, I was more excited about seeing Harry Potter naked than I was about most of the Shakespeare shows.

You’d think that disinterest would make me skeptical of a book with a father more likely to quote Shakespeare than have an actual conversation, with three girls who’s names come straight out of the plays, with a title that comes direclty from Macbeth, but that was not true at all. Shakespeare references in The Weird Sister were at a level I found charming — just enough to make me wish I loved Shakespeare more, but not enough to make me feel like an idiot. Don’t be afraid of the Bard, embrace him!

2. Eleanor Brown can write amazingly in second person. Good writing will often make or break a book for me. I can deal with all sorts of plot nonsense if the writing is good, but I will give up on an intriguing story the moment I pick up on a writer’s tricks. It’s a thing.

But Eleanor Brown can straight-up write. One of my favorite parts of this book was the fact that it was told in second person — always “We” and never “I” — a strategy that could have been gimmicky if not used carefully. It gave the sense of the sisters as a collective, a team, a group working together even when they were in disagreement. The opening paragraph just sets the tone:

We came home because we were failures. We wouldn’t admit that, of course, not at first, not to ourselves, and certainly not to anyone else. We said we came home because our mother was will, because we needed a break, a momentary pause before setting off for the Next Big Thing. But the truth way, we had failed, and rather than let anyone else know, we crafted careful excuses and alibis, and wrapped them around ourselves like a cloak to keep out the cold truth. The first stage: denial.

3. It’s a book you will want to re-read. The minute I finished this book, I wanted to read it again. I think partly because I read it in sort of a rush — whipping through it in just a couple of days — but also because there are many things to pay attention to. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the end, and I wanted to re-read to see if I missed things that would change my mind. I liked seeing the ways the Andreas sisters grew up, convincingly and honestly, and wanted to experience that again.

4. The book is about people who love to read. As a person who loves to read myself, I feel immediate kinship with characters who can get lost in a good book. And the Andreas girls do that. They carry books with them everywhere, pulling them out at parties and in line, when their bored and when there are things they should actually be doing. It’s comforting to read a book that is about people who love books, too.

The book also constantly reminded me of my own lovely sister, who’s been an infrequent co-reviewer here on the blog. The Andreas sisters fight convincingly, in the way that I fight, lovingly, with my own weird sister.

5. It is a book that will make you smile. And really, I can’t think of much that is better than that.

Other Reviews: 1330V | Steph & Tony Investigate | Jenn’s Bookshelves | Books, Movies & Chinese Food | Caribousmom | I’m Booking It | Book Addiction | Life in Review | The Book Phantom |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Trisha January 31, 2011, 8:31 am

    I keep going back and forth on this one, but I think you have pushed me over the edge. While I’m generally not into contemporary, relationship-focused novels, I am into Shakespeare and eccentric parents, so the balance may work here.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:50 am

      Trisha: I’m not usually big into contemporary, relationship-focused novels either, but this one worked for me. I think someone into Shakespeare will get a kick out of the references and pick up on a lot more of that than I did.

  • Lisa Munley January 31, 2011, 8:47 am

    I really like this review format! You covered all that was necessary for me to know without divulging big plot lines. Great review, thank you so much for being on the tour!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:50 am

      Thanks, Lisa! It was fun switching up the review format a little bit for this one. I might try the list more often.

  • Jeanne January 31, 2011, 9:10 am

    I already wanted to read this one, mostly because the college is supposed to be a blend of Kenyon and Oberlin (according to an interview with the author). Now I really want to read it!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:52 am

      Jeanne: I love reading books that are connected to a place I recognize. The college is a big part of the book, since the father works there and Rose is also a professor. I think that would make it al ot of fun.

  • Laura @ ImBookingIt January 31, 2011, 10:02 am

    For such a great book, this was a hard one to review. I like the approach you took, and agree with all the points you made.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:52 am

      Laura: It really was hard to review. I find I have a tough time with fiction, especially fiction I really love, because it sounds like gushing.

  • Vasilly January 31, 2011, 11:18 am

    This is a hard book to review. I think most of us who read it wanted to just write: fantastic read! 🙂 I love how you decided to write a list of reasons why people should read this. Brown is such a talented writer.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:53 am

      Vasilly: Yes, that was my first attempt at a review! I hope the list helps people decide if it’s a good book for them or not, although I suspect most people who love reading will find a lot to enjoy with this book.

  • Steph January 31, 2011, 11:27 am

    Love your enthusiasm for this book, Kim! You may have struggled to review it, but I think you did a bang-up job of persuading others to give it a shot. It was so rewarding and I’m sure that anyone who blogs about books will love it… how could you not, really?

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:54 am

      Steph: That is what I think about it — people who loves books will, I hope, find a lot to enjoy in a book all about books. I’m a sucker for them, myself.

  • Pam January 31, 2011, 12:27 pm

    I just reviewed this as well and had a hard time putting my appreciation into words. Great review. I like the five point system!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:55 am

      Thanks Pam! I’m always torn about giving books stars, it seems too simplistic, but I think it does help people get a quick sense of a book, so I try to use them when I can.

  • Jenn's Bookshelves January 31, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Fantastic review! I, too, love your “Five reasons why..!” Great idea!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:56 am

      Jenn: Thanks! I liked writing it, so I may try the format again for other books I really enjoy.

  • Jess - A Book Hoarder January 31, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I love the break from a normal review and each reason was better than the last. I am finally convinced that I have to read this so thank you for the great review.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:58 am

      Jess: Excellent, I’m glad you’re going to give the book a try. I hope you enjoy it!

  • Jenners January 31, 2011, 7:55 pm

    I’ve been hearing such good things about this book … and now I have 5 more very good reasons to read it! (Glad you were able to overcome your writer’s block … I’ve found that taking a different approach to reviews I’m struggling with can often open up the floodgates.) Great job!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:59 am

      Jenners: One of my goals this year was to mix up the types of posts I read, so this was a good start. I do think taking a new approach to a subject can sometimes help with writer’s block.

  • Ash January 31, 2011, 10:25 pm

    I was immediately intrigued by the title and after reading your list I definitely want to read it.

    Confession: I will graduate college having barely studied Shakespeare, I opted for a Renaissance Poetry class and a Renaissance Book Studies class instead.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 11:00 am

      Ash: Renaissance Poetry and Book Studies both sound great. I just avoided early Brit Lit altogether, opting for more writing classes and modern American fiction. Also, early American fiction, because I do have a weird love for the Puritans.

  • nomadreader (Carrie) February 1, 2011, 8:18 am

    I’m so looking forward to this one (I’m waiting my turn somewhat patiently at the library!). I adore books about readers, and this one sounds lovely.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 11:02 am

      Carrie: I bet the library queue is really long! I love books — fiction and nonfiction — about readers so very much.

  • Andi February 1, 2011, 9:55 am

    This one is REALLY high on my wishlist, so I’m glad you liked it. Great review format here!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 11:03 am

      Andi: I hope you like it!

  • Bailey February 1, 2011, 4:57 pm

    I’ve seen lots of good reviews of this one, but your review format was really great! This one is going on my wishlist.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 11:03 am

      Bailey: Thank you! Sometimes it’s fun to mix things up and try something new.

  • Aths February 2, 2011, 6:39 pm

    I really really want to read this. It is available at my library for pickup, so by the weekend, I expect to be through it.

    • Kim February 3, 2011, 5:34 pm

      Aths: The book reads pretty quick; I bet you would be able to finish it over the weekend. Enjoy!

  • Stephanie February 5, 2011, 12:06 am

    This does sound good! I am reminded of A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, which was also a retelling of King Lear,

    • Kim February 5, 2011, 4:59 pm

      Stephanie: Yes, great comparison. I read that book awhile ago, but remember enjoying it.

  • Kailana February 6, 2011, 6:45 pm

    I really want to read this at some point. It looks good, but I hate reading something in the midst of all the hype. I might make an exception for this one. 🙂

    • Kim February 7, 2011, 9:15 pm

      Kailana: I don’t like reading books in the middle of the hype either. I think this one would stand up to it, but who knows. I hope you enjoy it if you get to read it!

  • Jennifer February 6, 2011, 9:14 pm

    I like this new review format. I think it’s something you should revisit in the future if you get stuck writing a review. You definitely make me want to pick this one up. I’m adding it to my list right now.

    • Kim February 7, 2011, 9:16 pm

      Jennifer: Thanks! I do want to use the format again, although sparingly since it’ll lose some awesome if it gets used too often.

  • Book Phantom April 4, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I was pleasantly surprised by Weird Sisters. I expected it to be somewhat “chic lit-ish”, but it really wasn’t. I made a list of things I loved about it, too, if you are interested: http://bookphantom.blogspot.com/2011/04/review-of-weird-sisters-by-eleanor.html

    • Kim April 4, 2011, 5:11 pm

      Book Phantom: I was a little bit worried about that too, so was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. Thanks for leaving a link to your review!