Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Weird Sisters are - well- kind of weird

I've been listening to Eleanor Brown's book for several weeks now and I'll admit I was becoming so annoyed with these women, Rose, Bianca and Cordelia Andreas, that I was ready to scream. I just wanted to shake them and yell "grow up!" How could I have ever thought that I'd make a wonderful psychologist? I'd have been just awful!

I had to take a huge giant step back  and try to remember where my brother, sister and I were when we were the age of these women - mid to late '20's - and realized, a bit sheepishly, that perhaps we weren't quite as settled or accomplished as my addled brain remembers. I'd love to know what my folks would say. Ha!

The sisters are the daughters of an absent minded Shakespeare professor, thus the names from King Lear, and his wife, who happens to be in the throes of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer. What a great cover for Rose, Bianca and Cordy to all pile on at home, each nursing their own very private wounds. As will happen when "kids" return home after flying the coop, they immediately tend to revert to the roles they had as children and begin to act like children as well.

I'm dating myself but, if you remember the Smothers' Brothers when they did their sibling routine "mother always loved you best," then you'll get the picture. As the oldest, Rose tends to be the "bossypants," (apologies to Tina Fey) still disapproving and judgemental after all these years. Though her long suffering fiance is at Oxford on a teaching fellowship, she just can't seem to see her way clear to even go for a visit, convincing herself that her folks can't do without her, when in fact, she just won't leave her comfort zone.

Bianca is the one who couldn't wait to leave the confines of the bucolic Ohio town where she was born and raised. Bright lights, big city was all she ever wanted, and the parties, clothes, and men to go with it. But those things cost plenty, so when the men stopped buying, she helped herself to the company's checkbook.

Cordy is the most lovable one of the bunch, an irresponsible flower-child, floating from town to town with her guitar in tow, flopping for a week or a month wherever the spirit moves her. Now she's back in the fictitious Barnwell, broke, pregnant and yearning to be settled and able to indulge her burgeoning nesting instincts.

The narrator of the audio does a wonderful job with the omniscient voice, bringing life and sympathy to these characters all struggling with what, I realized, are major, life altering decisions. The parents who, throughout most of the novel, seem like cloudy, background characters, suddenly take their places toward the end of the book with sage advice and unexpected wisdom, allowing this listener to sigh with relief.

Suddenly I saw the truth and insight of Ms. Eleanor Brown. How could I have forgotten the way I felt the day I left my little town in the Berkshires? I never wanted to look back and honestly, didn't, for many years. I was terrified, like Cordy and Bianca, of being trapped in what I saw as a "small town" life and it took me a long time to be able to return and appreciate the beauty of my original home.

As the girls begin to make mature decisions and realize that the choices are theirs and no one else's, readers will get a sense that all will be well for the Andreas family, even though much different than they might have predicted. How can you not love a book in which one of the main characters decides to become a librarian? And, it's a good thing!

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