Eleanor Brown's debut novel The Weird Sisters is an absolute gem. I was hooked from the first few pages. And as I turned the last, I sat quietly and savoured the story in my mind.
Cordelia (Cordy), Bianca (Bean) and Rosaline (Rose) Andreas are three sisters all named after Shakespearean characters by their father, who is a Bard scholar.
"We wear our names heavily. and though we have tried to escape their influence, they have seeped into us, and we find ourselves living their patterns again and again."
An event in each of their lives has each of them heading home again...
"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 ill, because we needed a break, a momentary pause before setting off for the Next Big Thing. But the truth was, 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."
Each is surprised and not overly happy to find the others there. "See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much."
What follows is an absolutely mesmerizing story of the complicated relationships between sisters, between parents and children and the search each sister undertakes to find herself and her place in family and life.
"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?"
Brown's characters fairly leap off the page - I could hear their dialogue and picture their actions so clearly. (And maybe hear some of my own sisters' words as they spoke...)
Brown has a way with words. Some of her descriptive passages had me reading them twice...."Bean pulled a heavy towel form the stack of laundry, unwinding it from the lascivious position it had gotten into with a pillowcase."
The Andreas family are lovers of the written word. They often connect (and dad most often) by quoting Shakespeare passages. "Our family has always communicated its deepest feelings through the words of a man who has been dead for almost four hundred years." Their home overflows with books, often laying about half finished, picked up and read by the next person to pass by. And there's nothing that can't be solved by having a library card. (!)
The Weird Sisters is written in first person plural style. This took me a bit to get used to and I found myself trying to determine who was narrating for the first little bit. But it seemed to work - it seems as each sister is contributing to the narrative, instead of just one of them.
This one was a five star read for me - one to recommend to the women in your life - sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. (Books clubs would love this one too)