I finished The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown, several days ago, but I’ve been hesitating to write the review; I couldn’t really figure out what to say. Today, I decided my lack of strong feelings or opinions is my opinion: the book is fine, but certainly not something that has me jumping up and down.
The novel follows three sisters, each named after a Shakespearean heroine — Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia — who come home after their mother is diagnosed with cancer. Ostensibly, they’re home to help their parents while their mother is in treatment, but each sister has her own personal catastrophe sending them running for the sanctuary of their childhood home. Rosalind’s fiancé has moved to England to pursue a career at Oxford, leaving Rose wondering whether she should still be planning a wedding or not. Bianca has been fired from her job in New York after her employers discover she has been embezzling. Cordelia, after living a nomadic lifestyle for years, is pregnant, with no desire to ever see the father again.
The novel traces each sister’s path home, then steps back and observes the tumult of their reunion. Each sister keeps her reasons secret for much of the novel, until they burst out of each woman one way or another. While I can’t say much else for the novel, I can say this: the sisters’ interactions and relationships with one another are occasionally overblown, but for the most part ring astoundingly true. I knew both the unconditional love as well as the all-encompassing rage sibling have the uncanny ability to elicit from one another. While many other relationships in the novel seemed one-note, Brown depicted the ups and downs of family dynamics with honesty and zest.
Brown’s novel is not quite comedic nor dramatic. It heavily references Shakespeare, but neither in a way that feels educational nor makes informed readers feel “in the know”. I was hoping for more in this department, but the references are mostly discussion of the characters for which the sisters are named, as well as their professorial father’s tendency to quote the Bard.
As I said before, this novel was definitely not bad. However, I just felt sort of underwhelmed. It’s a quiet novel of a family’s interactions in the face of major change, both good and bad. It could almost be a slice-of-life novel, provided that the life in question is rather dramatic. This isn’t really my favorite type of book, though I respect it when it’s done well. This one isn’t done poorly, I just think Brown could have done more with the characters and situations she created.
While I wouldn’t classify this as a total disappointment — as I said, it’s not poorly written or unforgivably dull — I’m hoping my next read has a bit more verve and excitement.