Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters is my first “must read” book of 2011.  Although the title conjures images of the three witches in MacBeth, The Weird Sisters aren’t witches; they aren’t even terribly weird.  But like all of us, they have their issues. And while they love each other, they don’t particularly like each other.

Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean), and Cordelia (Cordie) are the daughters of a Shakespeare professor. Growing up, the things that bonded the family were Shakespeare and books. They communicate in letters filled with the Bard’s words, and all are voracious readers.

Rose is a mathematics professor, engaged to the love of her life, but terrified of the unknown. Bean has escaped the small university town of her youth for the glamour of New York City and has been seduced by all it has to offer.Cordie is filled with wanderlust, a modern hippie, moving from city to city and town to town as she sees fit.  But a family emergency brings them all back to Barnwell,and each with her own secret.

The first thing that drew me into The Weird Sisters was the narration.  I don’t want to give too much away with it, but it is a technique I’ve rarely seen used well, and I loved the use of it.  While reading, I often felt as though I were hovering on the periphery of the room, watching the story unfold in front of me. Other times, I felt as though I could see inside each sister’s head, that I was a part of her thoughts. The second thing that drew me in were the references to and the quoting of Shakespeare.  The reader does not need to be a Shakespeare scholar to grasp it, but a familiarity with some of the most popular plays (Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, MacBeth) will certainly make the story more appealing.

Reading The Weird Sisters, I was struck about the loneliness that must sometimes affect even children with numerous siblings.  Each of the sisters feels as though she has somehow been overlooked in the family. Despite that, there’s a tenuous bond drawing them all to each other. Even though Rose, Bean and Cordie don’t particularly like each other, their bond as sisters transcends that dislike, allowing them to be each others’ harshest critic and fiercest ally.  In fact, it was the subtle evolution of the sisters’ understanding of themselves and each other unfolding throughout the story that drew me in and kept me turning pages.