I have wanted to try my hand a writing a book review for some time and so when a novel that appeared interesting came up on the BlogHer Book Club, I decided to give it a try. I hope to make it a regular feature on Spinster Jane with a general focus on books that apply to single living with the occasional novel tossed into the mix. So here you have it…my first ever book review.
(This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.)
“We came home because we were failures.”
- Eleanor. Brown, The Weird Sisters
I am not generally attracted to books that typically fall into the “chick lit” category but I found the description of The Weird Sisters and its connection to Shakespeare intriguing. From the moment I began to read this novel I was pulled into the story of these three women, Rosiland, Bianca and Cordelia; sisters named by their professor father after three heroines of Shakespeare’s plays, who ﬁnd themselves making a return to the home of their parents in the small town of Barnwell, Ohio.
The Weird Sisters is a novel about expectations; in particular the expectations placed upon us by our families of origin and, perhaps the most difficult, the expectations we have for ourselves.. Though ostensibly back due to their mother’s illness each sister has her own personal reason for making the journey home; an unexpected pregnancy, fear of embracing one’s potential and a rather serious breach of an employer’s trust. As each sister struggles with how to best deal with the complications of their own choices, they must also decide whether or not to reveal their personal conﬂicts to their sisters and parents, and in the process each comes face to face with the prospect that they may have let themselves and their families down.
On a personal level I found myself identifying with the struggles of each of the sisters. I think we all reach a certain point in our adult lives where we realize that we have become so good at projecting a certain image to the world that we can sometimes deceive even ourselves, leaving us at risk of blindly stumbling along our chosen path until we discover we have come to a place we never intended to be. As with The Weird Sisters this discovery is often made only when we ﬁnd ourselves face down in the middle of the road. In the end, we can only hope that we will regain our footing, dust off our knees and be willing to humbly face our faults in order to reassess and change direction.
I enjoyed Eleanor Brown’s style of storytelling. Though the story begins with how each sister has come to make her way home, it is through the telling of how they arrived at that point that we truly come to know them. Her use of the ﬁrst person plural effectively conveys the interconnectedness of the sisters and serves to illustrate their collective views of each other while allowing for each sister’s story to come through clearly. I was also pleased to ﬁnd that, though I have a fair amount of familiarity with Shakespeare, one needn’t be an expert to understand the frequent references made to his various works throughout the book which occur predominantly during the sisters interactions with their professor father; a man who seems unable to express his emotions in his own words and instead relies on those of his literary hero to convey his inner thoughts.
While I did ﬁnd the ending of the story to be a bit predictable, Brown’s smooth flowing storytelling and likable characters more than made up for it. I found the book difficult to put down and spent many an evening reading “just one more chapter” before heading off to bed. I would recommend The Weird Sisters to those looking for a sweet and enjoyable read.
If you would like to read more about The Weird Sisters or to participate in discussions of the book, be sure to visit the BlogHer Book Club page where it is the current featured selection.