The Weird Sisters

by Eleanor Brown

Paperback, 2012


Checked out
Due Aug 3, 2021

Call number

PS3602 .R6965


G.P. Putnam's Sons (2012), Edition: Reprint, 400 pages


Unwillingly brought together to care for their ailing mother, three sisters who were named after famous Shakespearean characters discover that everything they have been avoiding may prove more worthwhile than expected.

Media reviews

"Indeed, The Weird Sisters is a book worth celebrating. Because their father is a renowned Shakespearean scholar, the Andreas family communicates largely through the words of the Bard. It is not unusual for them to drop Shakespearean quotes into a conversation about, say, wedding rings or what to eat for breakfast."
2 more
There are times when the sisters are exasperated by the burden imposed on them. “Sometimes we had the overwhelming urge to grab our father by the shoulders and shake him until the meaning of his obtuse quotations fell from his mouth like loosened teeth,” they say. Readers may sometimes feel similarly about Ms. Brown but more often appreciate the good sense and good humor that keep her story buoyant. She does have storytelling talent. Or, to quote one of the Weird Sisters quoting you-know-who: “This is a gift that I have; simple, simple.”
Eleanor Brown's likable debut novel is the story of three grown sisters who return home when their mother falls ill.....The first third of the book moves slowly, with too much explanation of who the sisters are, and too much insistence on how different each is from the other, and a sort of bulky setting-up of their rather implausible situations, and -- enough, already! Get the story moving! And when it does start moving, it is a delight.

User reviews

LibraryThing member elbakerone
With a renowned Shakespearean professor for a father, the Andreas sisters knew the Bard would have an influence on their lives - even their names Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy) were inspired by famous works. Their bookish ways and habit for communicating via verse set the family apart and the three sisters have little in common outside of their sibling rivalries. However, when dire circumstances bring them together, the girls just might find that they are more alike than they, or their parents, ever realized.

The Weird Sisters is a story about family and friendship and the chance to let challenges pull people together rather than apart. The characterization of sisters - oldest, middle, and little - will be recognizable as realistic to those that grew up in similar situations. And this is also a book about the love of literature and is truly a book for book-lovers. Not only does the cast converse with each other in famous quotes, but there is an admiration of libraries and academia. The Andreas family is infused with a reading culture and bibliophiles reading the work will likely love seeing their passion mirrored by the characters.

Eleanor Brown created a fantastic novel in The Weird Sisters. The story is told in the highly unique voice of the first person plural as if all three Andreas sisters are telling the story together. Not only does this add a lovely unity to the various portions of the story which focuses on multiple characters, but the use of "we" and "our" pulls the reader fully into the narrative. By the end of the book the reader has become a silent fourth Andreas sibling and it is a testament to Brown's writing that turning the final pages was almost like saying farewell to family.

I'll certainly be on the lookout for more works by Brown in the future, but for now an Andreas family reunion is just a reread away!
… (more)
LibraryThing member BeckyJG
The Andreas family of Barnwell, Ohio is a bookish one. Father is a professor of English at Barnwell College, renowned as a Shakespeare scholar and more than a little obsessed with the works of the immortal bard. Each of his daughters is named for a Shakespearean heroine: Rosalind, called Rose, Bianca, known as Bean, and Cordelia, who is, of course, Cordy. His conversation is peppered with quotes from the plays--a habit all three of the daughters have picked up (Strike up the drum; cry 'Courage!' and away, Cordy whispers to herself as she's shoplifting a pregnancy test at the beginning of the book; and, If it were done, when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly quotes Bean under her breath, as she's being led into her boss's office to be fired a few pages later).

Of the three Andreas sisters only the eldest, Rose, still lives in their hometown. Cordy, the youngest, dropped out of college nearly a decade earlier, and has been living a nomadic life--hitchhiking, music festivals, sleeping on couches--ever since. And Bean, the middle sister, fled as soon as she graduated, heading for New York and a life as far from the quiet life of a college town as possible. Each sister, suffering an upheaval in her life, heads home, where hey will spend the hot, humid summer helping care for their mother, who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer (as is his way, their father conveyed this news by sending a page copied from his decades old, heavily annotated Riverside Shakespeare, on which he highlighted the line, Come, let us go; and pray to all the gods/For our beloved mother in her pains.)

The three Andreas sisters will also spend the summer figuring out how who they are and how to live their lives. They'll work on that most difficult of tasks, learning to know one's parents as people, not just as parents. And they'll find love, and acceptance, and a measure of grace. In fact, although The Weird Sisters does not end with a wedding, still, the ending has the feel of the ending of a Shakespearean comedy.

The first person plural narrative voice was charming. The "we" of the narrator acts almost as a fourth sister, who elucidates the trio's collective feelings and points of view, as well as the individual ones of each of the sisters. This odd device, the abundance of italicized but usually unattributed quotes from the bard, and the relentless quirkiness of the Andreas family could have been overwhelming or off-putting, but it wasn't. Their love of books and stories and each other was beautifully painted, and enough to keep this reader charmed to the end.
… (more)
LibraryThing member kgallagher625
I enjoyed this story of three sisters who return home, explicitly to help their ailing mother and eccentric father, but really because they are all at crisis points in their lives. As they reconnect and begin to settle some of their issues, they begin to finally grow up and to understand their places in their family, as well as how their family affected their life choices so far.

The book is very well written, the story is sweet, and the characters are well-drawn, just eccentric enough to be interesting. The allusions and outright references to Shakespeare are used effectively. The theme, common in contemporary fiction, was illustrated in a fairly non-intrusive way. The sisters' epiphanies are touching and satisfying.

Not the deepest book, but thoroughly enjoyable.
… (more)
LibraryThing member smileydq
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?
… (more)
LibraryThing member CatieN
I really enjoyed this book. Got caught up in the characters' lives right from the start. The father in the book is a professor of Shakespeare, so the three sisters are named after Shakespearian characters. Rose is the oldest, very responsible, a caretaker. Bianca (Bean) is beautiful and uses that to manipulate people, not realizing she has better things to offer the world. Cordelia (Cordy) is the baby and has always been treated that way and acts that way. The girls all come back home for various personal reasons but also because their mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. They have some rough times, but all three learn some important things about themselves and each other. All the quotes from Shakespeare were wonderful, and everyone in the family reads constantly, and I liked the way the author incorporated that into the book. Their motto seemed to be, when in doubt, pull a book out. I can relate!… (more)
LibraryThing member nyiper
Although this was a completely readable book and I did enjoy the characters, I did get very tired of the Shakespearian quotes and began to slide through them rather than try to absorb them. Once you "get" that as a part of the book, it becomes tiresome. It seemed as if the sisters were working so hard to make things difficult, not only in their own lives but also with each other in their efforts to help with their mother's illness. Given their circumstances for their reasons for all being home again I think I'm being harsh---once they were all there together again it had to be the story of how they worked through their new togetherness and grew up in the process.

I just read another review wishing that the mother had been more explored because she was perhaps the most likable of the characters and you really wanted to explore more of her thinking----I agree.
… (more)
LibraryThing member GondorGirl
What a great book! I consider 'Weird Sisters' a beach read for the literary crowd, or intelligent chick lit. 'Weird Sisters' tells the story of three sisters who are named after Shakespearean characters. The girls are vastly different, but converge to their childhood home when their mother falls ill. Although it's a little predictable at times, 'Weird Sisters' is a vastly pleasurable read. Dozens of Shakespeare quotes are used, and half the fun of the book is trying to remember which plays the quotes are from. Definitely a worthy addition to to library of anyone looking for a smart, light read.… (more)
LibraryThing member jbets127
After a bit of a slow start, the Weird Sisters was wonderful-even if you cannot quote the entire Shakespearean canon (which I cannot) many of the references are not obscure and are explained and the story of the three sisters is well thought out. Each sister offers her own gifts, quirks and uniqueness which are foils for each other and for their father (their mother plays more of a sidelined role). I hope to see more from this author-I think her storytelling ability has alot of potential, and I was sorry to see this novel end.… (more)
LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
The best thing I can say about The Weird Sisters is that I managed to finish it, which I would not have done if it hadn't been an Early Reader commitment. The narrator of the book, who is annoyingly the "spirit" of the three sisters, says early on that this is not a book about magic but rather a book about fate. Not so. This book is full of magic, the magic women have long been encouraged to embrace. There's the magic of unplanned pregnancy: if the irresponsible, rootless woman only embraces her unexpected fecundity all will work out in the end with job, man, and family acceptance. There's the magic of dreams cast aside: if a woman will only give up her life long dream and an unexpected (and these days, golden) tenure track position in the university she has always loved in order to follow the dreams of her chosen man, she will be eternally happy. There's more magic of dreams cast aside: if the attention seeking bombshell will only give up dreams of staring in a younger version of Sex in the City she can find joy as a small town librarian. There's also, of course, the overwhelming magic that women are vain, competitive creatures whom wonderful, steady, wise men can still find attractive. Before finishing the last few pages I would have said that there's not a single surprise in the book, but I would have been wrong. The romantic embrace (complete with twisted ankle and streetlights on the evening sidewalk) does not lead to romance, but there's not quite enough magic in the book for that sort of nonsense. Amoral narcissists frequently become pastors, but a pastor's wife needs much less devotion to self.

I highly recommend this book to the god never gives us more than we can bear, all things happen for a reason, it's a blessed life crowd. Anyone seeking realistic fiction should look elsewhere.
… (more)
LibraryThing member SilversReviews
Three sisters, three different outlooks on life, three different opinions about working, three different attitudes concerning just about everything, but they all had the same reason for coming home.....their mother needed help because of her breast cancer.

Rose was the practical, organized sister, Bean was the attorney turned thief, and Cordy was still the spoiled child she always was. They all had some secret or concern as they returned to their childhood home.

Their childhood home was one of love, of books, and Shakespearean quotes....the entire family quoted Shakespeare as they spoke and thought nothing of doing so. None of the girls was ever without a book in her hands.

Just as in childhood, the adult lives of each sister went opposite ways in terms of interest and responsibility, but their love and concern for each other was evident. The emotions of the characters and the descriptions of situations especially during childhood flashbacks was perfectly depicted allowing the reader to experience the hominess of small town connections and the nostalgia of coming back to your roots. You will enjoy each sister for her strengths and shortcomings, and you will admire their parents for their love of each other and for the love of reading they instilled in their daughters.

I really enjoyed this book...if you have sisters, you will cherish it and you will most likely be comparing these characters to see which sister you are!! If you don't have sisters, the bond between all the characters will "warm your heart" and have you thinking about your own family and sibling relationships. 5/5

P. S. The Three Witches or Weird Sisters are characters in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth (c. 1603–1607)...information taken from Wikipedia.
… (more)
LibraryThing member knittingyogini
I won this as a “first read” from Goodreads and I’ll admit was a little wary when it showed up. The first thing the made me nervous was that it would be told in first person plural. I was worried that this will be a bit annoying or pretentious. Second, I’m the eldest of three sisters, so I knew that I would be a bit fussy about how these three sisters were portrayed.

I enjoyed the book. I thought the first person plural was used rather effectively and it was not as overwhelming as I feared. Really, I think most of the book could be described as being told in third person omnipotent with the “we” coming in more like a Greek chorus the faded over the course of the novel. In this respect, I think the plural use was well-done. At least in my circle of sisters and mom, we do discuss each other endlessly and often arrive at a common opinion. I think it would be accurate to describe what the collective feeling or advice for any one of us is in terms of the “we” of the other three. In this way, I think the narrative worked well to emphasis that collective aspect of the family relationship. I didn’t have any trouble following who the story was following at any particular moment.

The sisters do meet many of the stereotypes for eldest/middle/youngest, but so do I and my sisters. I liked that their relationships were complex and that they were each at a cross roads, yet the story wasn’t plumbed for every bit of drama. It could easily have devolved into soap opera or lifetime-movie of the week, and I was happy it did not. Their story was interesting without being overblown, and complicated enough to be realistic. Yet, everything tied up in the end and that was comforting.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Cecilturtle
Charming but annoyingly stereotypical, this book is an incursion into the lives of three sisters as they simultaneously reach a crisis in their lives.
When reading it, I felt: this is a book for educated, bored bourgeoises: educated because the constant references to Shakespeare will keep their interest piqued, bored because this is basic entertainment with no particular insight and quick emotional turns, bourgeois because no one else would really care about a pseudo hippie, an immature PhD and a failed coquette turned small town librarian. I didn't. All of the changes seem to me improbable (Rose a sudden jet setter, Bean a quiet homebody and Cordy a domestic goddess) and the ending is so saccharine (Mom suddenly healed and Dad in love with baby), I immediately forgot it.
Well written nonetheless, this book goes in the pile of mindless reads to pass the time.
… (more)
LibraryThing member clamairy
I enjoyed this book. I have eight siblings, so I understand the nature of those complex relationships, and how, as was the case in this story, some childhood rivalries never die. I loved the parents in this book, and I enjoyed the tender loving references to books, book lovers and the joy of reading in general. I have to admit I thought some of the plot points seemed a tad contrived in spots. I eschew spoilerific reviews, so I won't give details, but some of the incidents and even some of the flashbacks just didn't ring true for me. That being said, I would not hesitate to pick up anything else Eleanor Brown might write in the future.

(And now I feel the urge to bake and eat a loaf of bread! *wink*)
… (more)
LibraryThing member tvordj
This is written in the first person plural point of view, as a collective between three sisters who have come home to help their mother who is undergoing cancer treatments. Each of them is facing a life change and has secrets. The narrative will switch from describing from all three together to two talking about the third sister where necessary. We get to go back in their lives to hear more about their pasts as it relates to their present, and we do get to know each of the women as her sisters know her or how they learn new things about each of them.

The family is one of readers, with books a constant in all of their lives, their parents included. Their father is a Shakespeare lecturer in the local small-town university and they can all quote Will to apply to any situation and conversation and do. Their father is remote, seems to live off in his books most of the time and their mother is just trying to cope with her illness. The sisters do love each other but haven't always liked each other, often rub each other the wrong way. The oldest is the dependable, conservative "Voice of Reason" who may be about to run off on a romantic adventure if she can pull herself away from what she sees as all her obligations. The middle sister has been fired from her job in NYC after stealing from her company and has come home to regroup. The youngest sister has been drifting and wandering for most of her adult life. Now she's pregnant and maybe it's time she settles down and grows up. Or not?

I liked this book quite a bit, I liked the flawed characters and was interested in how they could change their lives and find their new futures.
… (more)
LibraryThing member teresa1953
“We came home because we were failures.”

So begins this wonderful novel by Eleanor Brown. It is the story of three sisters Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia. Any resemblance to female Shakesperian characters is entirely intentional. Their father is a Professor whose love of all things connected to the Bard is a complete obsession. The three women have gathered at their parental home, ostensibly because their mother has breast cancer, but their reasons are not as clear cut as it seems.
Rosalind (Rose) has never strayed far from home and, as the eldest, is the one who always takes charge and believes herself to be indispensable. Her fiancé has gone to England to work and Rose is wrestling with the decision to stay or to join him. Bianca (Bean) has been fired from her successful position at a lawyers’ firm in New York for stealing from her employers. Cordelia (Cordy) is a free spirit who exists on little money and often without a home……and now she is pregnant.
This is an absorbing read and, set against the backdrop of small town life and the mother’s illness, I found it hard to put down. The writing is fluid and often amusing with Shakespeare’s prose scattered among the dialogue. Each one of the sisters come to terms with their past during the story and by the end, the reader is willing them on. Other characters are well drawn and contribute much to the novel. All in all a great read.

“There are times in our lives when we have to realise our past is exactly what it is, and we cannot change it. But we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change the future.”

How true!

This book was made available to me for an honest review.
… (more)
LibraryThing member asigg44
I won this book in a contest from I thought this book was pretty good. I, myself, have no sisters, so the bonds between the sisters, Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia, was not anything I have related to in the past.

This is a story of three sisters, whom for different recent "failures" in their lives, have come home to live and help take care of their mother. The paths that these women have taken are obviously the wrong ones for each of them, and they begin healing and righting their wrongs with the help (and hinderance) of each other.

There is quite a bit of Shakespearean quotes and references in this book, so if one doesn't have a knowledge of Shakespeare and his works, it may seem a bit droll. All in all, it was a pretty good book, one for those who like "feel good" stories. I would recommend this book to friends!
… (more)
LibraryThing member beserene
This new novel, which I received as an ARC, is solidly enjoyable, though neither surprising or mind-blowing. The story concerns three sisters, each very different from the other, all daughters of a vaguely preoccupied mother and a father immersed in Shakespeare scholarship; so immersed, in fact, that he has named his daughters Rosamund, Bianca, and Cordelia -- each name from a different play of Shakespeare's. The relationships between these parents and their children and between the sisters themselves are, predictably (given the title and literary patterns), the focus of the novel.

I liked the characterization of Rose (Rosamund), Bean (Bianca) and Cordy (Cordelia) -- each woman felt real; in fact, I recognized patterns and characteristics in them that I know in myself and in others in my life. They were all relatable and genuine, even though some of their actions were at the exaggerated end of common human behavior. Their conflicts also feel authentic -- I was not surprised to learn at the end, in the author blurb, that Eleanor Brown is one of three sisters.

I also appreciated that the conclusion of the novel does not lapse into overdone tidiness -- not everyone ends up hitched to their earlier romantic interests, at least. I did find the ending a little soft, in the sense that the novel kind of peters out rather than wrapping up with an emotional punch. Part of that is simply the type of story this book is -- the novel is about family drama, but it is almost entirely without melodrama (a rare thing), and the setting is a small college town in summer -- so the whole package feels calm and quiet throughout. Many readers will find this a pleasant change from the over-amped adventures created in response to current popular literature trends. Some may be bored by it.

My favorite detail of the novel -- and I know that any English major reading it will be on board with this -- is the inclusion of frequent Shakespeare quotes. This is a family that, among several quirks, uses lines of Shakespeare to express personal feelings, including approval and disapproval. It starts with the aforementioned father, but the lines pop up in the sisters' dialogue as well. Some of the funniest parts of the novel revolve around the family's awareness of their own quirk. The novel even acknowledges at a couple of points that the frustrating thing about using Shakespeare's words to communicate is that even Shakespeare might not have known what he was talking about. :)

The peppering of quotations aside, the novel is cleanly written, with bright prose and cinematic -- but not overwrought -- description. I had great mental images throughout my reading. I did wish that the characterization of the mother was a little clearer, but the focus here is definitely on the sisters -- in fact, the novel is written from their collective viewpoint -- so the reader's understanding of the parents is colored by that perspective. That also means that our understanding, not only of the parents but of the whole family and the world it inhabits, grows throughout the novel, as the sisters' eyes are opened and reopened. It's a satisfying experience, made better by the connection that the reader feels with these very real women.

Bottom line: I liked it. I think many of you will too.
… (more)
LibraryThing member susiesharp
This is the story of 3 sisters raised by a Shakespeare scholar who talks in quotes from the bard a mother who stayed at home but seemed melancholy at times, the sisters were close and not close 3 very different personalities Rose is the caretaker, Cordy (Cordelia) the wild child and Bean (Bianca) who wanted to make her way in the big city with all its trappings. Their mother has been diagnosed with cancer which brings Cordy & Bean home but is it the only reason or are there secrets that would have brought them home anyway?

I am glad I read this book on my nook so I was able to highlight the many many great quotes or I would have filled up a notebook writing them all down! Here are a few:

Instead, we were going to wrap ourselves in cloaks woven from self-pity and victimhood, refusing to admit that we might be able to help each other if we’d only open up. Instead, we’d do what we always did, the only thing we’d ever been dependably stellar at: we’d read.

“What I mean is, I still feel like me. It’s not like I wake up and think, I am a responsible adult. I just look in the mirror and see myself. The same stupid person I’ve been looking at for years.”

She never managed to find herself in these books no matter how hard she tried, exhuming traits from between the pages and donning them for an hour, a day, a week. We think in some ways, we have all done this our whole lives, searching for the book that will give us the keys to ourselves, let us into a wholly formed personality as though it were a furnished room to let. As though we could walk in and look around and say to the gray-haired landlady behind us, "We'll take it."

"There are times in our lives when we have to realize our past is precisely what it is, and we cannot change it. But we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change the future."

"We all have stories we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves we are too fat, too ugly, or too old, or too foolish. We tell ourselves these stories because they allow us to excuse our actions, and they allow us to pass off the responsibility for things we have done-maybe to something within our control, but anything other than the decisions we have made."

This a book for the reader and lover of books it also reaffirms that you can go home again. These sisters each with their own set of problems 2 who ran far from home and 1 who never wants to leave. The growing up the looking at your life and analyzing everything you’ve done and how it brings you to who you are now. This was a very enjoyable book and I fell in love with these sisters and their parents watching the sisters bond through their troubles and differences.

I highly recommend this book to readers and book lovers whether you are a Shakespeare fan for not I think you will enjoy this character driven book.

4 ½ Stars
… (more)
LibraryThing member iubookgirl
The Weird Sisters finds the Andreas sisters, Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia, returning home to the parents house in a small Ohio college town. Their father is a professor and scholar of Shakespeare thus the names given to his daughters. Each returns home under the pretense of caring for their ailing mother, but each holds a secret--secrets that reveal life hasn’t gone the way they planned. Over the course of the novel, secrets are revealed and each sister finds her way to true adulthood.

The Weird Sisters is told in first person plural tense, and I started the book trying to figure out who the narrator behind the “we” was. It seemed to shift constantly from sister to sister. I soon gave up trying to track it though and came to feel like I was part of the collective “we.” The story was too good and too well-written to worry about the narrator. I just wanted to learn more about these sisters.

Brown sprinkles Shakespeare quotes throughout the dialogue and narrative, but don’t let that intimidate you. You don’t really need a background in Shakespeare to enjoy this book. In fact, sometimes the sisters themselves, who have grown up with these words, aren’t sure of the meaning their father is trying to convey with the words of Shakespeare. They are merely a tool that often does convey great meaning and creates a sense of whimsy that is endearing.

I think most readers will find a piece of themselves in one or more of the sisters. I saw a little bit of myself in each, which probably increased my interest in their struggle towards growth. I was completely engrossed by this story of family and coming of age. Yes, I consider a coming of age story even though the sisters are early 30s to late 20s. None of them has come into their own when the novel begins, but each finds their path by the end. It’s a touching story and I felt a sense of hope when I finished.

The Weird Sisters is a beautiful debut, and I’m sure Eleanor Brown will continue to deliver wonderful novels in the years to come. I highly recommend The Weird Sisters to virtually any reader. You don’t need to be a Shakespearean scholar, down on your luck, or be as sister to appreciate this novel. I am none of these things, and I loved it.
… (more)
LibraryThing member BALE
Eleanor Brown is convincing with her interpretation of sibling interactions, from jealous rivalries to tender moments where confessions and fears are revealed. Her intellect is well studied, whereas Shakespeare is quoted throughout (and is a means by which thoughts are shared) and his various characters are used to name and illustrate the novel’s main characters. Ironically, this is not a deep story, yet it is well written. The first person point of view narration was a bit much, at times. A little variation would have given it more texture. Overall, as a light read, I enjoyed the first three-quarters of the book. The life Brown gave her characters was plausible up until this point. Unfortunately, the ending was sophomoric. It lost its depth. It could have been much stronger and would have made for a very powerful book.… (more)
LibraryThing member herzogm
The Weird Sisters is a novel about sisters, families, books, and how one copes with life. It is in a word, weird. The first person plural narrator and the extensive quotes from Shakespeare are not standard novel forms. They can be distracting and at times disturb the flow of the story. The use of the quotes every time someone wants to make a point or express a feeling should provide lots of discussion for book clubs. There is plenty of room for very different interpretations of the meaning. In the end, one is drawn into the unfolding story and begins to care about the characters.… (more)
LibraryThing member tammychristine
This is a well written book with good descriptions. I did find the Shakespeare references annoying. Just speak English once in a while, Dad. I liked the three sisters coming to grips with their lives and making amends. It was nicely done and realistic. The mom character didn't seem as real as the others. I look forward to seeing what this author writes in the future.… (more)
LibraryThing member dancingstarfish
“Sisters keep secrets. Because sisters’ secrets are swords.“

I don’t know if this book resonated more with me because I am one of three sisters, it may have or it may have not. Maybe you will love it as much as I did if you have five brothers or are an only child. I don’t know. I just know I loved the story of The Weird Sisters, it felt very close to my heart. Siblings so often define themselves by who they are not (each other) and that in itself can define a great deal of who they become.

I sympathized with the relationships of this family deeply. It felt as though it were written by someone who not only knew how sisters felt about each other, but wasn’t afraid to admit it. The family dynamics, excluding the excessive quoting of Shakespeare, rang true to life in many ways. They were frustrating, charming, harsh, unforgiving and of course, deeply loving.

The Andreas sisters are daughters of an English professor whose specialty (and main method of communication) is Shakespeare. When he says goodbye, asks for food, writes a letter, inquires as to how their day was.. it is all in Shakespeare. The Weird Sisters are, for obvious reasons, named Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean) and Cordelia (Cordy.) Books are a large part of their life, an escape but also a way for them to communicate with each other. When they don’t have words for what they want to express to each other, they use Shakespeares’ and his words work just as well.

Their story is told from the point of view of all three sisters at once. I thought it would be a bit disconcerting but the “We” did not bug me, it even felt natural as the book progressed. Rose, the oldest, is the one who takes care of everyone, needs to feel needed, in control and therefore, never left home. Bean, the glamorous one, bar hopper, martini drinker, in heels and couture, returns from New York after some financial problems. Cordy, the wanderlust, bounced around the country from party to party, house to house, man to man and finally, to home. All three sisters end up back home partially because their mother has cancer, but mostly because developments in their own lives drove them there when they had no where else to turn.

Unsurprisingly, as their tale progresses we realize that this is the point in all their lives when each sister must make the decision of what is to become of them now. Who are they? Who will they be? Consequences are a large part of their story, but also just the beginning.

“And we might argue that we are not fated to do anything, that we have chosen everything in our lives, that there is no such thing as destiny. And we would be lying.”
… (more)
LibraryThing member writestuff
The Andreas sisters are all grown up. The youngest, Cordelia (Cordy), has wandered the country for years, sleeping on the floors of strangers, swaying to the music at concerts, and floating through her life without goals. Bianca (Bean), the middle sister, fled their small Ohio college town for life in the Big Apple, but her dreams of a wealthy life among the glitter of the City have been crushed. Rosalind (Rose), the eldest, has always been the responsible one, choosing to stay close to home and her parents, taking a job as a professor (like her father), and resisting any change to her predictable life. When their mother, a gentle woman whose love permeates everything, falls ill with breast cancer…the three sisters are drawn back to their home town where their old relationships with each other surface.

Eleanor Brown’s debut novel, The Weird Sisters, is a wonderful story with big, complex characters. The Andreas family is a family of readers, encouraged by the eccentric father who peppers his speech with Shakespearean quotes and insisted on naming his three daughters after characters from Shakespeare’s plays. The sisters are beautifully crafted characters whose failures make them deeply human. But, perhaps what makes The Weird Sisters so compellingly readable is the relationships between the characters. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a sibling relationship, but especially those with sisters of their own, will recognize the ambivalence, petty jealousies, and ultimately the love that binds them each to the other. Who among us does not revert instantly to our childhood personalities and ways of behaving the moment we are all together again as a nuclear family? In Eleanor Brown’s amazing novel, that is exactly what happens when Cordy, Bean and Rose find themselves once again beneath the roof of their parent’s home. They each have grown into adults, yet it is their old ways of behaving that both join and separate them.

Who would Bean be if she dropped her beautiful mask? Who would Cordy be if she stepped up to the plate in her own life? Who would Rose be if she weren’t the responsible one anymore? - from The Weird Sisters -

As the youngest of three sisters, I found myself relating often to Brown’s astute and humorous observations.

Rose and Cordy stood by the door for a moment and stared at each other expectantly, until Cordy rolled her eyes and climbed into the middle. “The hump,” we had called it when were younger, because whoever sat there had to contend with the bump where her legs should go.

“I haven’t been the smallest for a long time,” Cordy complained as we squeezed her in on either side.

“You’re still the youngest,” Bean said, flicking Cordy’s bare leg with her fingertip.
– from The Weird Sisters -

Thematically, the novel looks at how sibling relationships morph and change over the years from childhood to adulthood, and the struggle to change who we are within the context of those relationships. It is both a funny and heartbreaking look at growing up and the sometimes painful effort to relate to the most important people in our lives in a different, more mature way.

Brown wrote her book in an unusual point of view – a collective narrative where all three sisters “tell” the story. Instead of “I” the view becomes “we.” Although initially hard to get used to, I found myself appreciating this brilliant choice because although each character is an individual, it is their collective memories and relationships with each other which informs who they become.

Eleanor Brown is a talented storyteller who has crafted a novel that will resonate with anyone who has had a sister. But, you do not need to have shared your life with sisters to appreciate the skill of Brown’s writing. Her work is honest, heartfelt, funny, and full of the truths which make us human. The Weird Sisters is about coming home again and the family connections that bind us; but, more importantly, it is about understanding that we are not alone in the world and the relationships we have with others are what form us.

Do not be surprised if you see The Weird Sisters next year on my top ten of 2011 – it really is that good.

Highly recommended.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Lila_Gustavus
I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story about the most wonderful family that I wouldn't mind being a part of. Although, (as much as I hate this expression due to it being overused), it's really a universal story and we are all part of the Andreas family in how we're all messed up in one way or another, we all have our little failures and big ones too. The Weird Sisters speaks to the readers of our familial imperfections that make our families what they are and what we love them for because, just like the Andreas's, I believe we do pull one another out of troubles in the end.

As much as The Weird Sisters is the story about families, I reveled in the side of the book that concentrated on reading. After all, what self-respecting reader doesn't want to read a book about reading? Especially one that's written really well, with wit and humor? Even more than a book about readers, The Weird Sisters is really an hommage to Shakespeare (not that he needs any more of those) and one of the better ones at that, in my opinion. Mr. Andreas speaks to his daughters mainly in quotes from Shakespeare and the girls are also quick to answer likewise. The most surprising the delicious part is, it actually works! Ms. Brown proves that the Bard had a lot of life wisdom to impart and indeed he did. It turns out that it's not all just some kind of mumbo jumbo completely irrelevant in today's reality (as I shamefully sometimes thought myself) but words of sound advice that may just steer you in the right direction when it's needed most.

I know I haven't said enough about Eleanor's book but I guess you will just need to read it for yourself. It's a great piece of contemporary American fiction depicting the imperfect lives of women in the time of their lives when they have to make a decision to either be stuck in their sometimes childish, often ineffectual ways or to move on into adulthood and understand that they mostly have to 'to thine own self be true'. Once they are that, everything else will fall into place. But to know themselves truly is not an easy task at all and sometimes requires the help of people who really love and care about them.
… (more)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

400 p.; 5.4 inches


Page: 0.2265 seconds