Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Weird Sisters

The Book: The Weird Sisters

The Author: Eleanor Brown

The Dealio: The three sisters in the title, Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean) and Cordelia (Cordy), are, at first blush, as different as it is possible for three siblings to be. Rose has elected to get her doctorate in maths and is the 'stay-at-home' sister who organises everything and everyone with whom she comes in contact, and with a force and elan that Patton might envy. Bean, the center-stage hog, is a renown beauty, who took off for NYC as soon as she possibly could. With no intention of coming back home. Beloved family pet, Cordy, a Bohemian of the most extreme order, has spent her entire life haring off to this or that place, always sure that greener grass was right around yet another corner. All three Andreas sisters, offspring of a Shakespearean scholar/professor at 'Barnie', the tiny town's university, wind up back at the family home in Barnwell in the Midwest. Each has her own reasons, and do not want know what those reasons are. The cover story is that they are back home to help care from their mother, who has fallen sick. But what they learn about each other, themselves and their parents, makes for many eye-opening encounters, much drama, and, finally, an acceptance that change is not only inevitable, it- as we grow into adults- is inevitable.

The Grading Session: 4.29 pengies out of 5. Brown writes beautifully, but I really had scant sympathy/empathy with any of the sisters until the final 1/4th of the story had unspooled. Rose is a domineering malcontent who believes that life would be better for everyone, if they would simply acknowledge that she alone knew what was best for everyone (except herself, it turns out). Bean, gorgeous, thoughtless, and constantly craving the spotlight, has been caught stealing from her firm and fired...provided she pays back what was taken. She feels she is nothing without a man, and scrambles from unsuitable, selfish encounter to more of the same, all the time suffering Rose's ardent disapproval and Cordy's disbelief. Cordy, herself, is no one to talk: she is back in Barnie because she is pregnant and has no money, no prospects, no education and is a taddy bit worried about her future. One of the more colorful characters in the book, (ostentatiously so, to my mind), is Professor Andreas, a withdrawn, braniac of a man who speaks largely in Shakespearean quotations or SQs written into letters and hand delivered or mailed to the recipient. He of the extended 'just a minute' finger and unpredictable biases and angers, seems to be an attempt to wackify the family. Not really necessary, in this case. I also would not have gotten this book had I known the nature of the mother's illness (too close to the back door for me). However, Mom Andreas has some of the very best lines. I found the sisters and their father to be self-centered, smug and really not likable until the denouement. Until then, I wanted to give each of those characters a shake and a talking-to (which). None of which would have made any sort of impact, I am sure. What a shame when the writing was so lovely, balanced and impressive. But that's just me. PS: I am one of three (non-Shakespearean-ly named) sisters, so, I do have a basis for comparison.

Lessons Learned: Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home...unless it is Cambridge, England. Deep in the hearts of every wanderer, there is a tiny candle-sized flicker of longing for home. While, deep in the heart/soul of every stay-at-home would-be Cinderella there exists the siren's call of the open road. Also, this: no one but our nearest and dearest has quite the enormous capacity to mortally wound...or so magnificently heal. Finally: if it seems like a bad idea, it probably is. If it seems like a really, really bad idea, run, don't walk away. And do not pause to glance over your shoulder.

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