Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

(I wrote this back in October and left it sitting in draft.)

I've been reading The Weird Sisters with my hometown friend A. for the past several days. She wanted us to read The Constant Nymph, but I said I had to read a book for book club first.

The Weird Sisters did not go over well with either of us.

Excerpts from my first email:

I read the first two chapters last night. I'm very much in the do-something-unusual-with-the-narrator's-voice camp, so I should be enjoying the first person plural much more than I am. The girls don't seem united enough to warrant it. Maybe that will change, but it may have worked better to let each girl have her own first person chapters, at least in the beginning.

I'm having difficulty believing in these characters. A bunch of New York lawyers aren't going to prosecute the HR employee who was stealing money? Yeah, right. Rose doesn't want to move to Oxford with her boyfriend (is she INSANE?)? I'd buy that she wanted to, but felt obligated not to once she found out about her mom's cancer and her boyfriend went anyway, but as it is, all the author's doing is pushing her characters around.
Maybe I'm still reacting against all the initial hype this book received, but if it weren't for the fact that you're reading it and my book club is reading it, this is a book I'd have abandoned by the end of the first chapter. I don't want to workshop a novel in my mind when it's too late for the writer to consider my advice.

Plus, now that I'm in the third chapter, I'm royally pissed that she's not indicating the books that the characters are reading. Tell me the title or the type of book they're reading, Eleanor Brown, or are you too afraid that your readers would rather go read those books instead of your own.


When The Weird Sisters first came out I was most definitely intrigued; it sounded like just my thing and the only reason I had for not buying it immediately was that I didn't like the texture on the cover (I'm funny about things like that). Then Jeanne, whose opinions I trust, cancelled out all the over-the-top gushing everyone else had been doing. When my mother-in-law decided she wanted me to download The Weird Sisters to our shared Kindle account I did so without ever intending to read it myself.

I consider myself a generous reader. I don't expect perfection in the books I read; I am often surprised at how negative others can be toward a book that I've quite enjoyed due to one singular aspect or another that in my mind more than neutralizes all its other shortcomings.

But being a generous reader means I typically quit reading the books that I can tell early on that I'm not going to get along with and then I settle in with something I know is going to work for me. I kept on with the Brown and I nitpicked the generous hell out of it.

Now I did like the parts where the first-person plural narrator wrote about how important reading was in their lives; how perfect for showcasing here where I take note of the reading lives of fictional characters! But outside those fillips and the cardboard father's incessant quoting of Shakespeare, the reader is told more about the middle sister Bean's wardrobe, makeup and handbag collection than the books the characters are actually reading. This book could have used a pink cover.

Plus,one of the sisters feels she's come down in the world when she's offered a librarian's position (despite the fact that she doesn't have the requisite MLS degree!). And no one from this family of readers ever sets foot in the college library where presumably there would be a wider, deeper collection of reading material to draw from. No one takes advantage of the joys of ILL.

And I was appalled when Brown had Bean's Southern roommate Daisy address Bean in the second person plural. Misspelling y'all as ya'll I could have made allowances for in a bless-her-heart let's-blame-it-on-the-copy-editor kind of way, but as God is my witness, I'll never go hungry read a second book by a writer too dumb to realize y'all is the contraction of you all.


  1. I read the Kindle sample of that one and didn't care to read more. I'm glad I didn't miss anything marvelous!

  2. Aw, that's a nice compliment. And yes, the book could have used a pink cover.


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