February 23, 2011

Meet The Weird Sisters

I guess I've been too busy reading books to find time to post about them. I have a few recommendations to catch up on this week.

I finished Eleanor Brown's THE WEIRD SISTERS a month ago, but procrastinating this long on writing about it means that I get to tell you about a bunch of cool things that have happened to Eleanor and to the book. THE WEIRD SISTERS made it onto the New York Times Best Sellers and several other lists, Eleanor was interviewed on NPR and elsewhere, and she's visiting several states to promote her book. I'm so pleased to be able to say that I knew her when, even if "when" is only since last year and "knew" is so far only online.

I'm even more pleased to be able to say good things about THE WEIRD SISTERS. It's a book about siblings and secrets -- two of my favorite subjects -- with an unusual narrative style, which is another element I like in a book. Since all these combine into a compelling and beautifully written story, THE WEIRD SISTERS gets a glowing recommendation from me.

The book is about three grown sisters who return home when their mother gets breast cancer, without revealing that they're each also fleeing from a different life problem. The family home is in a small college town where the father teaches Shakespeare and communicates as much as possible in lines from the Bard. Aside from sharing this upbringing and their Shakespearean names, the sisters don't have much in common and don't particularly like each other. Things regress from there.

While the character I liked best was the youngest sister (and I notice that Eleanor is herself the youngest of three sisters), as an older sister, I identified completely with the oldest of the three. Bossy control freak, unappreciated for her ability to keep everyone else's life in order? That would be me.

The story is told in a rarely used point of view, first-person plural. The three sisters narrate collectively as "we" and use names or the third-person "she" to talk about a single sister. It's a little strange to read at first, but it works. Here's a sample from the first chapter:

We see stories in magazines or newspapers sometimes, or read novels, about the deep and loving relationships between sisters. Sisters are supposed to be tight and connected, sharing family history and lore, laughing over misadventures. But we are not that way. We never have been, really, because even our partnering was more for spite than for love. Who are these sisters who act like this, who treat each other as their best friends? We have never met them. We know plenty of sisters who get along well, certainly, but wherefore the myth?

We don't think Cordy minds, really, because she tends to take things as they come. Rose minds, certainly, because she likes things to align with her mental image. And Bean? Well, it comes and goes with Bean, as does everything with her. To forge such an unnatural friendship would just require so much effort.

Cool, huh? If this glimpse of the narration and the characters appeals to you, read THE WEIRD SISTERS or, um, get thee to a nunnery!


Mom said...

I loved this book, Lisa. Thanks for sending it to me. I can see why you identify with Rose. I like the part when her father said, "No one ever asked you to care for us. I suppose it is your mother's and my failing that we have allowed you to do so for so long." Great review.

Lisa Eckstein said...

Mom, I'm so glad you liked it, too! I hope you can make it to Eleanor's event in Newton next week.

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