I’m more of a book person than movie person tbh so I’m going back to book reviews for now. I’ve decided that I’ll probably stick mainly to book reviews with the occasional peppering of a movie review or other review. So without further ado, let’s get into this.
When I came across the cover for The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, I was immediately drawn in by the green writing and vines on the cover page (my favourite colour!). And the blurb on the cover pages was interesting as well, explaining that the book was about a family of readers (me!) whose father spoke in Shakespearean quotes (wait wut?) and mother was diagnosed with cancer, causing the three sisters to come back home all at once (uhhhh). To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember too much about this book, aside from a few key things as I read it a few months ago. As a result, this review will not be as detailed and spoiler-filled as all my other reviews. That said, as I mentioned in my About Me page, I love to write about anything and so I figured, why not write about this book I barely remember? So behold, let’s review!
So…I’m not really sure how the book begins. I’m pretty sure it begins with one of the sister’s narrating? But I’m not sure? Well actually, on the question of narrating, it was interesting because the book rapidly switched from character to character and past and present, while remaining the same. And often times, it wouldn’t even be initially explicitly clear that the narrative had switched. There would be no page break or anything, just a switch of story (after a sort of connecting sentence or two). I found the ‘voices’ of the sisters to be quite similar and the narrative used a plural ‘we,’ so I tended to differentiate between narratives by seeing what was going on, as each sister had a different story (well technically, when simplified, their stories were quite similar). If I’m not being clear, this book involves three sisters (all named after Shakespeare characters) and their lives and was narrated as a group (think stuff like, “our father…” “we thought…”).
The oldest sister, Rose, is a math professor at the same college where her father taught (teaches?) and she attended. We aren’t really told what she looks like, but its implied that she’s not really skinny. She tends to wear baggy clothes, with a lot of tunics and wide pant legs. And she isn’t described as being very athletic, as she struggles to hike up a mountain/ hillside but she’s really drawn to tai chi. Unlike her sisters, she actually still lived in her hometown, albeit with her boyfriend turned fiance. He also teaches at the same college (that’s actually where they met). However, he gets an offer to work/ study in England and would like Rose to come with him. She’s initially very unhappy with this and refuses to join him, citing her mother’s illness. As such, she uses her mother’s cancer as a way to escape, by literally going back to live with her parents, despite the fact that the two insist that they can cope on their own (LOL). The biggest issues with Rose seem to stem from her aversion to change and need to be needed. This manifests with her being a controlling, boring, den mother who refuses to give up her ways and obstinately sticks to what she knows, even at the expense of others’s annoyance.
The middle sister, named Bianca but called Bean, worked in HR for a large law firm in New York. All she wanted, as she continually laments, was to escape her small town to live a glamourous cosmopolitan life, but she ends up squandering that opportunity away. Caught up in the world of the elite, being a shopaholic, and bored of her job, she ends up embezzling a lot of money from the law firm. Miraculously, she doesn’t get arrested, just fired. She then takes her sorry-ass home, leaving her roommates with her pending rents and officers (the deal was that the company would compensate by taking her stuff + her paying in return for no jail). She returns home and cribs about the lack of a night life instead of thinking about her huge debt. She goes and attempts to seduce some men in a bar, only to find herself outmaneuvered by younger girls. Frustrated with her life, she meets an old acquaintance and becomes an adulterer. In other words, she sort of hits rock bottom.
But then again, that title could also perhaps go to the youngest sister, Cordelia, called Cordy. Unlike her older sisters, the baby of the family drops out of college to pursue the life of a hippie. She lives on the road, travels daily, barely showers or has enough money to eat proper food, and has many, many lovers. It is through one of her random one-night trysts that she becomes pregnant. Having no idea what to do, she also runs back home. With no money or any sort of degree to help her get a job, she ends up waitressing for a friend’s cafe as a way to ‘secure’ a life for the child she’s determined to have. Where Rose is the dutiful, controlling sister and Bean is the flighty, risk-taking sister, Cordy is the spoiled one, with no real sense of responsibility.
And so with all three sisters home, the story commences. Without revealing the real reason they came home, each sister manages to find the faults in her own sisters but fails to recognize her own faults. Their mother is too sick to really deal with anything. And their father ‘attempts’ to help by quoting Shakespearean verses (*insert face palm*). The sister’s read voraciously and the story flashes from past to present, showing how the once close sisters drifted apart, how each sister came to be where she is now, and how their lives are currently going. Like most Shakespearean stories, things seem to wrap up and get better in the end (which I mean, I always appreciate a happy ending so I was glad).
Rose’s secret (engagement and potential England visit) comes to light and with a little pushing from her sisters, she finally goes. She finds that she really enjoys life there and can totally see herself living there with her fiance. And so she and her fiance return home to get married and then leave to live in England. Basically, Rose finally accepts that she doesn’t need to take care of everyone, doesn’t need to be so controlling all the time, and that change can be good and fun.
Bean’s secret (embezzlement, firing, adultery) comes to light. Through the nudging of a pastor, her sisters encouragement, and the lucky retirement of the current librarian, she gets over her shit and gets a job as the librarian despite no real credentials (networking in a nut shell tbh). Basically, Bean stops victimizing herself and chasing false dreams and instead steps up. She ends the affair, starts getting her finances in order, and begins going to church/ connecting with people on more than just a superficial level.
And finally, Cordy’s secret (accidental pregnancy) comes to light. Although her parents, especially her father, are upset with her, she decides to keep the baby and be more responsible. But luckily for her, her friend, the owner of the cafe where she works, turns out to have a life-long crush on her and and asks to marry her and adopt her to-be-born baby. She supposedly stops being spoiled and becomes responsible and adult-ish.
So if you haven’t been able to glean from my review yet, I’m not the biggest fan of the book. I mean, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read. It terms of writing, I actually found that I enjoyed reading it and even though the narrative was confusing, it wasn’t a bad experience. It was an okay book. But at the same time, it’s not my favourite book either. I just, not much happens in the book. The sisters come together after failing and then end up kick starting their lives again. I mean, if only it was that easy. And on a similar note, it was so difficult to place when exactly this story took place. Like, I don’t really remember any mention of any year/date or device or anything, save for like phones and television. There was just such a small, sleepy town sort of feeling throughout the entire book. Everything was really simplistic. Which I guess is great if you love that sort of thing. And I think people who really love Shakespeare might get it more, but most of the Shakespeare quotes just flew over my head. I just did not get it; things could’ve been easily explained in normal english. It didn’t seem all that witty or whimsical to me (which is what I assumed the author was going for). It just seemed tedious.
And the sisters seemed to be really stereotyped as well. As the oldest sister, I could definitely relate to Rose on some things, but on others, it was just like BLAH. I especially hated her aversion to move. She acted like it was the biggest thing in the world. I mean, what could a simple trip do? I don’t understand why she struggled with it so much. And Bean was the pretty, flirty and flighty middle sister who felt the need to act out in order to get noticed. I found myself so incredibly dumbstruck by her inability to grasp that she committed a CRIMINAL act and her constant self-victimizing. How can your sense of preservation be that low and high at the same time? And Cordy was the completely spoiled and coddled baby of the family. I actually found her story to be so unsatisfying. She gets pregnant, comes home, finds a job through a friend, and then gets a partner who can take care of her in the package. How lucky can you be? How little character growth can you go through? It felt like everything was still being handed down for her to take. I felt like she didn’t grow that much or really become that responsible.
I just, I don’t know. I did enjoy reading the strange narrative and the story was okay. I found myself drawn in by the family scenes rather than the sisters personal lives. But the sisters themselves were quite flawed and unlikeable. Not much character growth happened and yet the book contained a significant amount of pages. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that while it was okay in some parts, it definitely could’ve been much better in others.
My rating: read it for the interesting narrative and family dynamics but skip it otherwise as there are more unique dramas out there.