21 December 2010

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Flap Copy from ARC: "The Andreas family is one of readers - books are their passion and their solace. The father is a bit eccentric. A renowned professor who communicates almost exclusively in Shakespearean verse, he named all three of his daughters for great Shakespearean women: Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy.) As a result, they find that they have a lot to live up to.

Each of the sisters has found her life nothing like what she had thought it would be - and when they are suddenly faced with their parents' frailty and their own disappointments and setbacks, their usual quicl salve of a book can't solve what ails them. When they each return to their childhood home - ostensibly to take care of their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds - they are dismayed to find the others there ... To their surprise, the three discover that they are more similar than they ever imagined, and their childhood town and their sisterly bond offer much more than they ever expected."

The Andreas family certainly has more quirks than most, but in many ways they are a normal family - three sisters with individual problems and insecurities, a scholarly father who can't separate his work from his life, and a loving but absentminded mother who has her own issues to handle. Rose is the eldest, with all the fears that come from losing the attention and honor of being the only child. Bean is the quintessential middle child, desperate for attention and seeking it in all the wrong places - with disastrous results. And Cordy, the baby of the group, has always been indulged and is finding out now, more than a little too late, that she needs to stand on her own two feet.

Brown's writing style is funny and lyrical; her understanding of Shakespeare and her clever insertions of his lines throughout the characters' dialogue turned this family story into a literate delight. The omniscient narrator (apparently the three sisters speaking as one voice) took a little getting used to, but Brown's skillful combination of flashbacks and the present day wove a complete and entertaining tale of family life in the face of widely varied obstacles. I definitely recommend this novel with 3.5 stars - I mean really, who can resist a little iambic pentameter?

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