10 January 2011

Review: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Rosaland, Bianca, and Cordelia Andreas grew up in a small college town and are forever known as the daughters of their Shakespeare-scholar father. Although the two younger sisters left home--Bean to New York, and Cordy to see where the road took her--Rose stayed close by, helping out her parents and pursuing her math career.

When their mother is diagnosed with cancer, the sisters return to their childhood home. Their reunion brings out old conflicts and threatens to expose new secrets.

You'll probably read reviews that describe Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters as being about a dysfunctional family that is forced to face up to their differences and missteps. Although it's true that the Andreases are not your average family, their story is, at its core, universal: This is about a loving family that sometimes struggles to find common ground and sisters who try to balance friendship with competition and jealousy.

The sisters' father is basically an absentminded professor who responds to almost every situation with a quote from The Bard. Their somewhat oblivious mother has a tendency to get lost in her own head. But these are parents who know when to support their daughters and when to let go. They understand that the girls must make mistakes before they can become self-confident, responsible adults.

Brown may not have written about your family and your brothers and sisters, but she has beautifully captured sibling relationships, exposing feelings that young adults are sometimes hesitant to admit even to themselves. She has also created an authentic picture of the confusing, conflicting years of young adulthood when children are straddling the line that divides their college persona from their blossoming maturity.

Scattered throughout the text are perfectly placed quotations from Shakespeare, and you need not have read the plays to understand the meaning. I would, however, like to share a paragraph in which neither the plays nor the sisters are mentioned:

There is nothing that is not beautiful about bread. The way it grows, from tiny grains, from bowls on the counter, from yeast blooming in a measuring cup like swampy islands. The way it fills a room, a house, a building, with its inimitable smells at every stage of the process. The way it swells, submits to a firmly applied fist and contracts, swells again; the way it stretches and expands upon kneading, the warm, supple feel of it against skin. The sight of a warm roll on a table, the taste--sweet, sour, yeasty on the tongue. (p. 286)
For another peek at the text, see my teaser post from a few weeks ago.

Even though it's only January, it's hard for me to imagine that The Weird Sisters will be bumped off my top reads list for 2011.

Be sure to come back on Thursday when author Eleanor Brown and I will have an exciting Imprint Extra that will tie into The Weird Sisters. I promise that you won't want to miss it.

Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.

The Weird Sisters at an Indie

Published by Putnam / Amy Einhorn Books, January 2011
ISBN-13: 9780399157226
YTD: 4
Source: Review (see review policy
Rating: A+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


farmlanebooks 1/10/11, 6:08 AM  

"it's hard for me to imagine that The Weird Sisters will be bumped off my top reads list for 2011."

Wow! I didn't realsie that you loved it that much! Very high praise :-)

Susan 1/10/11, 6:52 AM  

What a lovely review! Thanks for sharing the paragraph about bread - some wonderful writing.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 1/10/11, 7:03 AM  

This sounds like a worthwhile read; happy to see that you enjoyed it, as that last review I read was not very positive.

Veens 1/10/11, 7:09 AM  

This sounds like a wonderful read to me too. I am glad that the Shakespearean quotes are easy to understand, or I would be lost :)

Molly 1/10/11, 7:32 AM  

I was interested in this book when I first heard about it because I teach Macbeth. After this review, I am most anxious to read it!

I look forward to Thursday's discussion.

Jenn's Bookshelves 1/10/11, 8:37 AM  

I wholeheartedly agree with you! THE WEIRD SISTERS has secured a place on my favorites of 2011 list!

marthalama 1/10/11, 9:25 AM  

I can't wait to read this. I've tried to win a copy, I'll just have to wait for it to come out.

Rural View 1/10/11, 10:15 AM  

I must read this one, but first I have an overwhelming desire to make some bread. ;-D

Kim 1/10/11, 10:56 AM  

I want this one! :)

Alex George 1/10/11, 11:28 AM  

What a wonderful review. I just adored this book, too. It's such a rich and generous story, and just brilliantly told. Love her voice. I've been telling everyone I can about it!

Sandy Nawrot 1/10/11, 11:29 AM  

I'd read it just for the title and just because it is Amy Einhorn. But after that review, what more influence do I need really? It's funny how we tend to find our best reads at the very beginning and the very end of the year!

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/10/11, 11:30 AM  

Yay for Eleanor!!!! Great review; I'm so happy you loved the book. And I'm definitely coming back to see what's happening when she's on the site with you!

This just made me smile so much!

Zibilee 1/10/11, 12:41 PM  

I had been really excited about this book, but then read a tepid review of it the other day and had a bit of a stumble. It sounds as if you really liked this one though, so I am going to give it another chance and stick it back on my list. Your review was wonderful and a lot more thorough than any other I have seen, so thanks for that and for sharing your enthusiastic thoughts on the book!

Amy 1/10/11, 1:05 PM  

I recently read a less than stellar review of this book. Your review sounds like it is about a different book...and a much better one. That alone piques my interest but the story summary already had me interested. Sisters, a loving family, books, it all speaks to me and the fact that the book is from Amy Einhorn cements it for me since I have yet to read a book from Amy Einhorn I didn't like!

looking fo

Beth Hoffman 1/10/11, 1:46 PM  

Terrific Review! I just finished the ARC and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eva 1/10/11, 2:03 PM  

So happy I put a hold request in on this when you told me to on Twitter! :)

Also, after that bread description, I'm extra-happy I visited a gluten-free bakery yesterday and have a loaf to munch on.

Belle Wong 1/10/11, 3:57 PM  

Beautiful quote - I can see why this one's got a place on your top reads list for the year.

Julie P. 1/10/11, 4:35 PM  

I'm planning on starting this one this week!

Melody 1/10/11, 6:24 PM  

I'm adding this one onto my wishlist!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 1/10/11, 8:06 PM  

Wow! High praise for January 10th! I'm coming to check your list at the end of the year!

Jenners 1/10/11, 8:20 PM  

This sounds like a good one. Just the title alone caught my attention.

Amused 1/10/11, 10:26 PM  

I've been looking for a review of this one to come out as I've been wanting to see if I should read it and now it definitely looks like I should!!

Rebecca Johnson 1/10/11, 10:44 PM  

"Even though it's only January, it's hard for me to imagine that The Weird Sisters will be bumped off my top reads list for 2011."

WOW! High praise for so early in the year. Definitely looks like an interesting read, and I love the passage you quoted.

lovely treez 1/11/11, 4:49 AM  

Sounds like a fabulous read and one to seek out at once. Thank you for the great review.

Sue Jackson 1/11/11, 9:45 AM  

This sounds wonderful - thanks for the review!

I found your blog through Books on the Nightstand, my favorite podcast.



Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree 1/11/11, 2:04 PM  

I'm looking forward to reading this one.

Meg 1/11/11, 2:05 PM  

So glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much! I love the passage you pulled, and am eager to get to this one -- it's in my TBR stack now. :)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/11/11, 2:26 PM  

Such a great novel! You've captured the spirit and the reality of it in your review.

And, yes, although the father is a Shakespeare scholar (and the entire family is, um, well-versed in the ways of the Bard), readers shouldn't shy away from THE WEIRD SISTERS if they aren't familiar with the plays -- Brown incorporates Shakespearian references without handicapping those (like me) who aren't students of his work.

bermudaonion 1/11/11, 6:57 PM  

I'm really excited about this book and can't wait to read it.

nat @book, line, and sinker 1/11/11, 9:48 PM  

i've seen this one chatted up on twitter but yours is the first review i've read. i find that you are a fair and responsible critic and if a book garners an a+ from you, i'll be sure to pick it up sooner rather than later. i'll be back later in the week to see the next feature with the author!

heatherlo 1/14/11, 9:11 PM  

I just finished this a week or so ago and absolutely loved it. Your review was perfect!

Dorte H 1/15/11, 1:09 PM  

Ah, I´ve been looking forward to this review since that teaser. The characters sound wonderful.

Coffee and a Book Chick 1/18/11, 8:19 PM  

January and already going to be on the best read of 2011? You've pulled me right in!

Alice Teh 1/19/11, 5:12 AM  

Oh... I love that quote you posted. What a description about bread!

Wendy 1/19/11, 2:40 PM  

Just finished this book and will be posting my book review on the 24th for TLC - but, had to comment. LOVED this...and glad you did too! Like you, I have a feeling that this is a book readers will see in my top 10 of 2011 at the end of the year :)

Portugal 4/18/12, 11:49 AM  

why. Brown has crafted a trio of frustrating, lovable and realistic women who are fallible -- just like all of us. Reading about Rose, Cordy and Bean offered me a glimpse of my own relationship with my sister, who is both a best friend and tough critic.

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