The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Saturday, February 26, 2011


The Weird Sisters
Because Cordelia was the last to find out, she was the last to arrive, though we understand this was neither her intention nor her fault. It was simply her habit. Cordy, last born, came a month later than expected, lazily sweeping her way out of our mother's womb, putting a lie to the idea that labor gets shorter every time. She has been late to everything since then, and is fond of saying she will be late to her own funeral, haw haw haw.

Rosalind, Bianca, Cordelia - aren't they such beautiful names? I know they won't agree with me, but I've always loved not-so-common names. The three sisters don't like their Shakesperean names, of course, so they go by nicknames - Rose, Bean and Cordy.

Rose, Bean and Cordy, the three titular weird sisters, have just been brought home at almost the same time by certain circumstances of their own making. They don't get along too well with each other - they have regular disagreements, they argue often, they even have triangularly different natures. Along with their father, they quote Shakespeare so often that it becomes their way to express their feelings almost always. I've never fully appreciated how much Shakespeare's quotes, although archaic-sounding, can be easily applied to a lot of things so many years later. Their father is a Shakespearean professor who has inculcated in the three sisters an immense and intense love for reading. Oh, believe me when I say that you'll love these three sisters simply because they do not go anywhere without a book in hand, and will pull out one whenever they have a free minute to spare.

I loved the three sisters - Cordy best of all. She's the one I would have loved to be. Youngest, yet very wise without being old. Not a care in the world. Can easily slip into any situation and know the right thing to say. If that makes her sound like some sort of heroine, that she definitely wasn't, at least not in the conventional sense. She is hardly responsible - flight is her solution to any trouble. Whenever the perspective moved to Cordy, you got the sense that you were floating somewhere half-dazed and literally tip-toeing instead of walking. Just pregnant with a child whose father was someone she met during her flight-esque lifestyle, she returns back to the only place she has known home.

Much as I liked Cordy, it was Rose that I identified best with. I guess that's because I'm most like her - her obsession with cleanliness and orderliness, making her a tough person to stay with if you are not the orderly person; her habit of reading whenever, wherever, which sounds like most of us, so I'm not guilty about that; her fear of taking risks in her personal life, simply because she has been so used to something that changing it seems out of the question. And so, the beginnings of a trouble appear in her otherwise perfect life with her fiancé, who has just moved to London and wants her to join him.

And Bean, oh Bean, she was probably the one who was the most torn inside. Her mind was in the gutter most of the time and she has been embezzling funds to pay for her expensive lifestyle in NY. She, most of all, didn't want to be back among her sisters, that too in her small-town home, so different from NY. I loved the ending she got - I found it comical and yet very appropriate and fitting. It was not what I envisioned but it made better sense to me.

In a weird sense, this book is slow. The story moves along slowly. Because most of the focus is on how the sisters adjust their lifestyles and get along with each other. There are plenty of flashbacks that give a more wholesome perspective of the sisters' relationship. But not once did I feel that I need a break nor did I wish that things "picked up". This is a book whose journey is much more enjoyable than the actual happenings chronicled in it. It's so much more delightful with books like that - the discovery process gets as interesting as the climactic sessions.

The significance of the first person plural narrative was not lost on me. Here were three sisters who didn't get along, who were as different from each other as possible, and yet were much more similar to each other. The first person plural narrative served as a constant reminder that they were not as dissimilar as they wished or believed they were. The narration was punctuated many a time by each sister's nasty thoughts about another sister, stressing more on their common qualities. If it's not so evident yet, let me stress that The Weird Sisters was a truly wonderful read to get lost in for its language, character-driven story, and the intelligent play on Shakespearean quotes.
See, we love one another. We just don't happen to like one another very much.

I borrowed this book from the library.


21 comments:

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

This book sounds marvelous and that quote is so true of sisterly relationships at times. Great review!

Vasilly said...

Glad to hear that you enjoyed this! The last quote is one of my favorites from the book. It's great to see which sister you identified with. I think I can identify with each sister in some way. :-)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... said...

Great review. I'm always drawn to sister stories.

Mummazappa said...

Hmm, I think I'm sold on the Shakespeare quotes. I have a bit of a thing for Shakespeare so this one has to go on the list pronto :-)

hcmurdoch said...

I was not going to read this book, but now you've got my interest peaked! Thank you

Marg Bates said...

I really want to read this book! I have to wait for it to come out here first though.

Caribousmom said...

I loved this one too - one of the best so far this year. Your review is terrific!

Athira / Aths said...

I loved that quote! It just spoke volumes about so many relationships!

Athira / Aths said...

I'm glad you liked that quote too! It's great you identified with each sister. I think that was the point of the author.

Athira / Aths said...

I hope your library gets a copy soon of this book! It's just fantastic!

Athira / Aths said...

Then you'll enjoy this! You should check it out.!

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks Marce! I thought the quote was great too!

Athira / Aths said...

Phew.. I'm glad to hear that. Well that was probably selfish of me, but I mean to say that I'm glad I don't have to tinker with the code more, it was driving me nuts, lol. But I wish Disqus was fast on all kinds of networks!

Athira / Aths said...

Woot! Then you should try this book! It's worth it!

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks Wendy! This book is one of my favorites this year too!

Athira / Aths said...

I hope it comes there soon! It's really wonderful!

Athira / Aths said...

You should check it out! I wasn't going to read it either because of all that hype, but now I'm just glad I read it!

Elspeth said...

I was debating whether to get this or not. I guess I'll give it a try. Thanks

Elspeth said...

By the way, I loved Bel Canto and can't wait to hear what you thought of it!

Athira / Aths said...

You should. It's a different kind of book - very quirky and fun!

Athira / Aths said...

I still have that to review. Hopefully this week or the next!