Imagine you are one of three sisters. Your father is an English professor at a small college in Ohio. You have a stay-at-home mom who shelved a career to raise her daughters.
Now, imagine your father named you and your sisters for characters in the Bard’s plays, Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia, and that when he wants to speak to you, he uses quotations from his favorite writer.
Elanor Brown’s debut novel, “The Weird Sisters,” begins with this premise, but to think the story is nothing more than those two paragraphs would be doing a great disservice to the author and her wildly colorful characters.
The “weird sisters,” a term used to describe the witches in the opening scene of “Macbeth,” are Rose, Bean and Cordy Andreas. They’re adults now, with their own issues, and are back home in Barnwell, to tend to their mother who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Rose, the brains of the family, is following in her father’s footsteps, albeit teaching math, not English. She looks forward tenure at the college and upcoming nuptials.
When Rose’s steadfast fiancé receives an offer to teach and study in Oxford, England, her world is turned upside down. Should she go? Should she stay? Who will take care of Mother?
Bean is the original yuppie, living the high life in New York City, spending more money than she makes, which leads her to cook her employer’s books. What was she thinking? Obviously, she wasn’t.
Bean flees to Ohio, thinking she’s leaving her troubles behind. Not so. Her employer and roommate want their pound of flesh.
In addition to her financial woes, Bean discovers she is no longer the hottest ticket in town. In a hilarious scene at a bar, she is outmaneuvered by a couple of younger, thinner, prettier girls. Talk about a reality check – in the funniest way possible.
Then there is Cordy, the hippie chick who has knocked around the country, jumping from one bed to another. Right before she finds out her mother is ill, she spends the night with an artist in Santa Fe, and you, guessed it, she’s with child, a fact she tries to deny and certainly hides from her family.
Cordy is as nauseous with morning sickness as her mother is with the effects of chemotherapy.
“All’s well that ends well,” but for me, the messy Andreas sisters are more attractive than the grown-ups they become at the end of Brown’s well-crafted story.
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