Review: The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown: NOOKbook Cover

Name of Book: The Weird Sisters

By: Eleanor Brown

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Copyright Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 280 (Nook Edition)

Format: Adult Fiction

Reason for Reading: I liked the title + positive advance reviews

Rating: A-

The first letter was from Rose: precise pen on thick vellum. From Romeo and Juliet; Cordy knew it at once. We met, we woo’d and made exchange of vow, I’ll tell thee as we pass; but this I pray, That thou consent to marry us to-day.

And now you will understand this was our oldest sister’s way of telling us that she was getting married.

The second was from our father.  . . .

Come, let us go; and pray to all the gods/For our beloved mother in her pains. And this is how Cordy knew our mother had cancer. This is how she knew we had to come home.

The sisters three are Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordy). They have all chosen very different paths in life, and they don’t particularly like each other, but because of their mother’s cancer as well as the secrets they’re carrying, they have all chosen to come home.

What I liked:  I have been known, on occasion, to insert random quotations from Shakespeare or Chaucer into conversation, so this family who communicates their most important thoughts and feelings through quotations appeals to me. It’s hard for me to grok sisterly relationships like these, since my sister is my best friend and always has been. However, as they learn to face themselves and learn to face the cold, hard realities of the world, they grow closer together and closer to their true selves.

What I did not like:   If you’re going to have a book about a family who quote Shakespeare with ease, please, please, please, quote him correctly.  The one that set my teeth on edge was, “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.”  If you re-read Hamlet, you will see that it is actually, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (Hamlet 3:2) . Yes, I’m pedantic, but I’m not alone in this.  I also felt that some of the solutions to the issues were a little pat; for example, Bean’s making up much of the money she needs by selling her clothes and shoes to a consignment shop. These are fairly minor quibbles, I will admit.

All in all, it’s a good book, and I would recommend it.

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16 Responses to Review: The Weird Sisters

  1. jehara says:

    I have been really really wanting to read this since I read the Times’ review. I was very much looking forward to what you had to say about it. One of these days I’ll get my hands on a copy.

  2. Bumbles says:

    Oh that is completely annoying! How could the editor not have caught that? Perhaps the line is shown both ways in varying texts and either are acceptable? But I would think that if you are writing to promote a love of Shakespeare that you would want others being exposed to it through you to learn it correctly. I’m with you.

    I’ve read different reviews of this. I think that the relationship between the sisters and the relationship the reader has with any sisters of their own makes people enjoy it or not. For someone like myself with only a pesky little brother, I would probably have a totally different relationship with the story. That would be an interesting poll.

  3. Margot says:

    I’m so glad you read and reviewed this one. The blog reviews I’ve seen are mixed. Some like it, some don’t. I also have a sister who is my best friend and it’s from that angle I’ll probably read the book.

    I confess to not being a great lover of Shakespeare. It was constantly forced down my throat as a teenager, which is usually the kiss of death. Now that I’m finally a mature adult I should probably give his works a second chance. I did love Taming of the Shrew when played by Elizabeth Taylor (who, by the way, just died). Any particular piece of Shakespeare you would suggest?

  4. Margot, I love love love Shakespeare!!! You might want to try watching different movies, and then after you’ve swallowed those, reading the plays. You’ll have the visuals of it, and you can enjoy the language without having to simultaneously envision something you haven’t seen.

    The Kenneth Branagh production of Much Ado About Nothing is luscious, with the exception of Keanu Reeves, who brood beautifully but chokes on every line. There’s another version the BBC did starring Billie Piper as Hero, and I love how they changed the ending to something that I think far more likely (all due respect to Shakespeare’s original ending, of course).

    Mel Gibson’s Hamlet is good, as is Kenneth Branagh’s, but I think my favourite Hamlet is the Ethan Hawke version. One of the great things about Shakespeare, in my opinion, is how it can be set at various times in history and bring something new each time.

    Lawrence Fishburne was brilliant in Othello, and Kenneth Branagh’s Iago in the same production is chilling.

    I think Romeo + Juliet (the Clare Danes/Leonardo diCaprio version) is far superior to any other that I’ve seen, live or on film. I totally loathe the play, with the exception of the extremely witty and ribald nurse, though, so I wouldn’t recommend starting with that one.

    I’ve seen several different versions of MacBeth that I found quite good, but that’s another one I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you start with. It’s extremely dark, and can be very hard to digest.

    I love The Tempest, and there’s a Peter Fonda version set in the antebellum South that’s very good. There’s a new version coming out soon that has Prospero being a woman, Prospera, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. Miranda is one of Shakespeare’s more charming young ladies. “Oh brave new world, that hath such creatures in it!”

    Another great way to get started is to watch The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. It is a parody, of course, but you get a taste of a lot of different plays all in one, and it’s very fun.

    (Sorry–I probably got a little carried away and gave you far more than you wanted!!)

    • jehara says:

      I adore the Leo and Claire version of R&J. But I really do like that play. Margot, I also suggest starting with Midsummer Night’s Dream. The movie version with Michelle Pfeiffer was really well done. It is very fun and funny. It was the first play I read that I really enjoyed by him. I also really adore Julius Caesar, although, you may not want to start with that one either. . .
      I second CG’s rec of the Reduced Shakespeare company. The script is hilarious and a great intro to Shakespeare. I saw this show done in London and it was one of the best plays I’ve seen to date.

      Oh there are just so many ways to go on this one. 🙂

      • I forgot Midsummer Night’s Dream! You’re right–the movie is fantastic, and the play is delightful.

        Julius Caesar is a good one, but I’ve never seen it.

        There’s also a really good Richard III, with Ian McKellan as Richard III and it’s set in WWII. Outstanding.

      • izzybella says:

        Allow me to 3rd Midsummer Night’s Dream with Michelle Pfeiffer. It actually didn’t get the best reviews, but I personally really enjoyed it. Kevin Kline as Bottom was pure delight and Stanley Tucci’s Puck was pure joy. I honestly would start there and then expand out.

        The Reduced Shakespeare company can also be thirded, though it’s a lot funnier if you are at least familiar with the plot and characters of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. You can go into it blind and crack up as it’s that well-written. But if you go into with some background knowledge you will laugh so hard you’ll pee your pants. 🙂

      • jehara says:

        You are right about Reduced Shakespeare. It is that well written, but soooo much funnier with a little bit of Shakespeare background. All this talk about Shakespeare is making me want to go re-read something.

    • Margot says:

      I love this idea. I just put the dvd of Much Ado on reserve at the library. I can definitely get excited about seeing my Shakespeare in a movie version. Thanks for a great suggestion.

      • izzybella says:

        It’s better, Margot. Plays are meant to be seen, not read. You can read something on paper and not like it very much; but then watch an outstanding production and suddenly it’s the best play ever. If you don’t want to read Shakespeare, no big. He’d rather you’d watch anyway.

  5. izzybella says:

    You know, I picked this one up at the bookstore when it came out and then put it right back down b/c I felt like I wouldn’t get the relationship between the sisters. I have a difficult time reading about that specific type of sister relationship (or lack thereof) since mine and my sister’s is so strong.

    It definitely sounds intriguing.

  6. Heather says:

    This one sounds very interesting! Added to my list. Thanks for the review!

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