Monday, July 16, 2012

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

I listened to The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown over the course of a week or so. I was glad I had decided to listen to, rather than read, this one, as it gave me a chance to savor it. Narrator Kirsten Potter's voicing of the story was excellent, and contributed to my enjoyment of the book.

Sisters Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia grew up in a small college town in Ohio. Over the years, they have moved away and grown apart, not because of any cataclysmic disagreement or misunderstanding, but simply because they grew into individuals who don't have much in common. When their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, the three sisters return, ostensibly to care for her -- but in truth, all three are running from something, and back at home, they will have to learn how to deal with their own secrets. They'll also have to learn to relate to one another as adults.

Simply put, I loved this book. It is gentle and thoughtful, with just the right amount of romance. The pace is small-town slow, but it doesn't drag. One of the most interesting features of the book is the narrative voice. I spent a while at the beginning of the book trying to decide which of the sisters was the point-of-view character, but discovered as the story went on that the point of view is, in a sense, the collective consciousness of all three sisters. If this hadn't been well-done, it would have been extremely annoying . . . but it was well-done, so it ended up adding a great deal to my enjoyment of the story. I found myself empathizing with all three of the sisters, even Bianca (the one with whom I have the least in common). I also loved the Shakespeare quotes -- the girls' father is an English professor specializing in Shakespeare, and uses quotes both familiar and obscure to express himself -- a trait he has, at least in part, passed on to his daughters. I had some concerns as I approached the ending of the book, fearing a couple of disastrous outcomes -- but in the end, all was resolved, sometimes in ways I had expected, and sometimes not, but always satisfactorily.

This is not necessarily my usual fare. I remarked to a co-worker, "I read a grown-up book -- and it wasn't even fantasy!" Still, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a well-written story, and if you enjoy small-town atmosphere and family drama, all the better. I can see this becoming one of my comfort reads in the future.

(Reviewed from an audiobook borrowed through my library system.)

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