THE WEIRD SISTERS

Eleanor Brown

The Andreas sisters were raised on books – their family motto might as well be, ‘There’s no problem a library card can’t solve.’

Their father, a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespearean studies, named them after three of the Bard’s most famous characters: Rose (Rosalind – As You Like It), Bean (Bianca – The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia – King Lear), but they have inherited those characters’ failures along with their strengths.

Now the sisters have returned home to the small college town where they grew up – partly because their mother is ill,

more …

The Andreas sisters were raised on books – their family motto might as well be, ‘There’s no problem a library card can’t solve.’

Their father, a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespearean studies, named them after three of the Bard’s most famous characters: Rose (Rosalind – As You Like It), Bean (Bianca – The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia – King Lear), but they have inherited those characters’ failures along with their strengths.

Now the sisters have returned home to the small college town where they grew up – partly because their mother is ill, but mostly because their lives are falling apart and they don’t know where to go next.

Rose, a staid mathematics professor, has the chance to break away from her quiet life and join her devoted fiance in England, if she could only summon up the courage to do more than she’s thought she could. Bean left home as soon as she could, running to the glamour of New York City, only to come back ashamed of the person she has become. And Cordy, who has been wandering the country for years, has been brought back to earth with a resounding thud, realizing it’s finally time for her to grow up.

The sisters never thought they would find the answers to their problems in each other, but over the course of one long summer, they find that everything they’ve been running from – each other, their histories, and their small hometown – might offer more than they ever expected.

less …
  • Berkley
  • Paperback
  • February 2012
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780425244142

Buy the Book

$15.00

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Eleanor Brown

Eleanor Brown’s writing has been published in anthologies, magazines, and journals. She holds an M.A. in Literature and works in education in South Florida but will be living in the Denver area, Colorado at pub date.

Praise

“Even if you don’t have a sister, you may feel like you have one after reading this hilarious and utterly winsome novel. Eleanor Brown skillfully ties and then unties the Gordian knot of sisterhood, writing with such knowingness that when the ending came, and the three Andreas sisters—who had slunk home for a rest from themselves only to find to their horror their other two sisters there as well—emerge, I sighed the guilty sigh of pleasure and yes, of recognition.”—Sarah Blake, best-selling author of The Postmistress

“At once hilarious, thought-provoking and poignant, this sparkling and devourable debut explores the roles that we play with our siblings, whether we want to or not. The Weird Sisters is a tale of the complex family ties that threaten to pull us apart, but sometimes draw us together instead.”J. Courtney Sullivan, best-selling author of Commencement

“Delightful…pulls us into the heart of the family circle…That’s Brown’s great gift: She draws you in and makes you believe her weird sisters aren’t so weird after all.”—The Miami Herald

“Brown’s knockout debut about the ties that bind us, the stories we tell ourselves, and the thorny tangle of sisterhood was so richly intelligent, heartbreakingly moving and gorgeously inventive, that I was rereading pages just to see how she did her alchemy. Brilliant, beautiful, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before.”—Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You and
Girls in Trouble

Discussion Questions

The Andreas family is dedicated to books, particularly Shakespeare. Would the family be different if their father were an expert on a different writer? Edgar Allan Poe, let’s say, or Mark Twain? What if they were a family of musicians or athletes, rather than readers? How might that change their dynamic? Is there an interest that unites your family in the same way that reading unites the Andreas family?

The narration is omniscient first person plural (“we” rather than “I”). Why do you think the author chose to write the novel in this way? Did you like it?

Which sister is your favorite? Why? Which sister do you most identify with? Are they the same character?

Do you have any siblings? If so, in what way is your relationship with them similar to the relationship among the Andreas sisters? In what way is it different?

Each of the sisters has a feeling of failure about where she is in her life and an uncertainty about her position as a grown-up. Are there certain markers that make you an adult, and if so, what are they?

In what ways are the sisters’ problems of their own making? Does this make them more or less sympathetic?

The narrator says that God was always there if the family needed him, “kind of like an extra tube of toothpaste under the sink.” Is that true, or does the family’s religion have a larger effect on the sisters than they claim? How does your own family’s faith, or lack thereof, influence you?

In many ways, the Andreas sisters’ personalities align with proposed birth-order roles: Rose, the driven caregiver; Bean, the rebellious pragmatist; and Cordy, the free-spirited performer. How important do you think birth order is? Do you see those traits in your own family or in people you know?

Father Aidan tells Bean, “Your story, Bean, is the story of your sisters. And it is past time, I think, for you to stop telling that particular story, and tell the story of yourself. Stop defining yourself in terms of them. You don’t just have to exist in the empty spaces they leave.” Do you agree with Father Aidan? Is it possible to identify one’s self not in relationship to one’s siblings or family?

Is it irresponsible of Cordy to keep her baby?

How does the Andreas family deal with the mother’s illness? How would your family have coped differently?

The sisters say that “We have always wondered why there is not more research done on the children of happy marriages.” How does their parents’ love story affect the sisters? How did your own parents’ relationship affect you?

What do you think of the sisters’ father, James? Is he a good parent? What about their mother?

Why do you think the mother is never given a name?

The narrators’ mother admits that she ended up with the girls’ father because she was scared to venture out into the world. Yet she doesn’t seem to have any regrets. Do you think there are people who are just not meant to leave home or their comfort zone?

Bean and Cordy initially want to leave Barnwell behind, yet they remain, while Rose is the one off living in Europe. Do you think people sometimes become constrained by childhood perceptions of themselves and how their lives will be? How is your own life different from the way you thought it would turn out?

When you first saw the title, The Weird Sisters, what did you think the book would be about? What do you think the title really means?