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The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown



Book Cover The Weird Sisters The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown is about three sisters who were each named after famous Shakespearean women by their fanatical dad: Rose after Rosalind in As You Like It, Bean after Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew, and Cordy after Cordelia in King Lear. The sisters are united by their love of books, but they don’t like or perhaps don’t know each other very well. They return to their home in the college town of Barnwell after their mother is diagnosed with cancer. But that is only part of the reason. Each of the sisters has fulfilled their role in the family but they are learning that being the carefree one (Cordy), the one who gets noticed (Bean), or the responsible one (Rose), may not be their path to happiness. As they deal with their mother’s sickness, the sisters bond over stories of their childhood. Towards the end of the novel they come to realize who they really want to be, which does not necessarily parallel their Shakespearean namesakes.

Book Club Ideas

Decorations for a book club party for The Weird Sisters could focus on Shakespeare and books. The Andreas family had books everywhere, lying open on every surface. In my table setting, I included a copy of The Yale Shakespeare, plays by Shakespeare, and rosemary, inspired by this quote from the book: There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies. That’s for thoughts.

Rosemary, Shakespeare, books

If you are really a die hard Shakespeare fan, you can include this life size cardboard cutout of The Bard or perhaps the Shakespeare action figure…with removable quill pen!

Life size Shakespeare

Fun party favors could include these Shakespearean poetry magnets, which the Andreas’ had on their refrigerator.

Shakespearean refrigerator magnets

Book Club Menu

In her quest to become a more responsible adult, Cordy gets a job at the Beanery, a local coffeeshop, where Egg Salad Sandwiches with Dill, Chicken Salad on Croissant, and turkey on focaccia were served.

Egg Salad on Pumpernickel

Chicken Salad on Croissant

For the Andreas family, dinner in the summertime often consisted of a table laden with fruits and vegetables – corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and peaches – “a dizzying array of colors, lush with juice” (Yum!!!). They ate their cucumbers and tomatoes pushed together in stacked ovals and drizzled with sharp balsamic vinegar and fresh-ground pepper. I call this Cucumber and Tomato Stacks. I initially thought this looked artistic, but now…not so much.

Cucumber-Stack-535x355

The bookstore in Barnwell sold Rice Krispie treats in the shape of Ohio, “which is not so far from the shape of a normal Rice Krispie treat.” I used a map puzzle as a template to form Ohio-shaped Rice Krispie treats. I never realized Ohio was so curvy!

puffed cereal, shape of Ohio

Other appetizing foodstuffs in The Weird Sisters includes the delicious breads Cordy would make including challah bread and braided breads such as Saint Lucia and Hawaiian with secret potato flakes in the dough and crushed macademia nuts coating each strand. In England, Rose ordered a Coronation chicken sandwich and a half pint of hard cider.


Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 3.4 stars (37,274 ratings)
Amazon: 3.8 stars (596 ratings)
LibraryThing: 3.5 stars (197 ratings)
My Rating: 4 stars. I have four sisters so I could identify with the sister dynamic and a book about people who love books . . . draws me in every time.

Discussion

  1. Can you identify with one of the sisters? If you have a sister, which one is she most like? Do you think birth order has an affect on personality?
  2. The sisters grew up in an unconventional household. How did this affect their lives? What was unique about your upbringing and how did it shape who you are today?
  3. What was Bean trying to accomplish with her promiscuity and stealing? Was she successful?
  4. Do you think you would have enjoyed growing up with a father who quoted Shakespeare all the time? Would you marry someone who quoted Shakespeare (or any other well-known person) repeatedly?
  5. One quote from the books says the mother would “pick up the book she had been reading earlier and involve herself in that world for a while until the pasta water boils away and the smoke alarm (hopefully) brings her back to reality.” Do you think this is just a harmless enjoyment of reading or could the sisters have felt neglected by their mother’s sometimes oblivion to the world around her?
  6. What was the significance of where each of the sisters ended up living at the end? Was there a type of role reversal?
  7. What do you think Rose was trying to prove/accomplish when she stole the glass while she was in England?
  8. Did you like how the book was written in first person plural? Do you think it would have been a better story had it been written in first person or perhaps from the point of view of one of the sisters?

Purchase The Weird Sisters at your favorite bookseller

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The Author

Eleanor Brown was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Eleanor has lived in St. Paul, San Francisco, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Oxford, London, and Brighton, England. She lives in Colorado with her partner, writer and new media superstar, J.C. Hutchins.

Eleanor’s writing has appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The Weird Sisters is her first novel.

Author/Book Awards

  • Amazon’s Best Book of the Month: January 2011
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller
  • Barnes and Noble Best Books for Adults This Month
  • National Indie Bestseller

Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…

One of my laugh out loud moments of the book was their father’s critique of the play the sisters put on when they were kids: “It covers all the important parts without any of the major characters. Brilliant adaptation” (page 112)

I have had this tiny little book since I was young and I am not certain of its origin. It has no publication information other than the paragraph below on the inside cover:

William Shakespeare As You Like It

William Shakespeare

Has any one seen a book like this before?



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