“Cordy and Rose and Bean / One fat, one short, one lean…” Oh. Sorry. Sorry. This is not the movie version of Fantastic Mr. Fox. But if you will believe me, this is the tune that kept playing in my mind when I was re-reading this funny and excellent book about three sisters. The song is not quite apropos, as none of the sisters is, in fact, fat or short or lean. It’s the name Bean that did it, I guess.
What book, you ask? Why, The Weird Sisters, Eleanor Brown’s 2011 debut novel. The three sisters call themselves Cordy and Rose and Bean, but they were named Cordelia and Rosalind and Bianca. Brought up in an atmosphere of Shakespeare tales, quotations, and reenactments, they are three brilliant sisters from the fictional college town of Barnwell, Ohio.
This book has a mysterious, un-named narrator. What’s not to love about that? The narrator is telling the story in first-person plural, which I think is a clever device that acknowledges the separate “we” that is created by the sibling relationship. What is said and seen by “us,” the narrator, is most of the time very different from what is seen individually by each sister. This adds an extra dimension to the narrative, making the storytelling richer.
Those of us who like to name that Shakespeare play in our minds will definitely get an extra kick out of the repartee that characterizes the Andreas family. The language, dialogue and the wit that occasionally edges over into snark are what made me return for a second read.
So if you like sisterly sarcasm, if you like to grin when a quotation from King Lear is tossed incongruously into the dialogue, get to know the Weird Sisters. They’re quirky, they’re damaged, and they are desperately trying to grow beyond themselves.