The Weird Sisters I As You Like It

Last week I read Eleanor Brown’s “The Weird Sisters”. And this week you lovelies get a review. Let me start off with two things. The first is that I have a sister; two in fact. So I came at this book already full to the brim with sibling woes. The second is that the tagline of the book “We love each other. We just don’t happen to like each other very much.” is remarkably astute. It’s lovely book that chronicles the pitfalls and promontories that happen when three adult sisters come home to take care of their mother during her battle with cancer. Throw in a Shakespeare-quoting professor for a father and plenty of secrets apiece and you have a wonderful little thrill-ride of a book.

As someone with siblings, I am always a little wary when a book purports to contain sibling relations. As a Shakespeare-lover I am likewise cautious of any book that professes allegiance to the bard. Let me tell you, my timidity was pleasantly overcome. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. To keep in the spirit of three sisters, I’ll give you three sister-reasons why I am so fond of it.

The first sister-reason is the sisters. It was so wonderfully to see an accurate portrayal of three female siblings not liking each other. I love my siblings. I do not always like my siblings. Sometimes it feels like artifice when siblings in media get along so often. While I’m sure there are real sets of siblings like that out there; I have never seen them. And it’s reassuring to see interactions similar to our own on the page.

The second sister-reason (maybe a little predictably) is the way the book treats Shakespeare. The father of the three adult sisters in the book is a Shakespeare professor who converses mainly in Shakespeare quotes. Which is really neat until you want to know exactly what he’s saying – a phenomonen all three sisters grapples with at least once. But growing up with such a father, all three sisters quote from the bard copiously throughout the book in their own unique way. It’s a fantastic injection of Shakespeare into both everyday life and family emergencies.

The third sister-reason is the writing. Eleanor Brown weaves three separate stories around each other like braiding until you have one solidified piece of literature. She moves between story and dialogue as easy as reaching for the butter at a dinner table; and makes you relish every move. Her dialogue between family is heartfelt and meaningful; her stories come together with the characters so well I forgot they weren’t real. She brought the world of a university town to life and lifted character breathing from the pages. Talent, she certainly has.

If I had to give it an out-of-ten rating, I’d give it a ten. It was a joy to read and a lovely experience to share. I highly recommend “The Weird Sisters” for all who are weird, have sisters, or just love Shakespeare. You’ll feel like a weird sister yourself before you’ve finished the book.

Author Catherine Spence

A Shakespeare-loving, Toronto-based bibliophile. Loves music, art, history, classical texts, languages, food, and performance. Dislikes frozen peas. Attended Regent's University London.

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