I cannot begin to tell you how much I adored Eleanor Brown’s book, The Weird Sisters.
The centers around the Andreas Sisters: Rose (Rosalind), Bean (Bianca), and Cody (Cordelia) named by their father, a professor of Shakespeare, who communicates almost exclusively in verse. Their mother is an absent minded house wife. Books and reading played an enormous part in their lives.
All three find themselves back in their home town of Barnwell, Ohio at a crossroads. On the surface they claim to be home to help care for their mother as she battles breast cancer. But each of the sisters is battling their own struggle. Rose appears to be the successful sister. She is a Math Professor but she was just told that her position was being eliminated and her fiance Jonathan, also an academic, just earned a fellowship at Oxford. Jonathan wants Rose to move to England but Rose worries what that would mean. Who would take care of her family? Where would her next job come?
Bean was fired from her job in New York for stealing. She may appear to be glamorous but her life is anything but. Up to her eyes in debt, she flees New York for home. Feeling trapped in the small town and struggling to find herself, she begins an affair with a married man. Cordy, the baby, has traveled the United States for the last several years living in less than desirable places taking odd jobs just to get by. When she discovers she is pregnant she realizes that she needs to do something and moves home.
Over the next few months, we learn more about the sisters through flashbacks. We see how they took on their specific roles in the family. We see them struggle against their role. And finally we get a glimpse of how things are going to be in the future.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the narration. It was one of the things that I enjoyed most. The sisters (plural) serve as the narrator. It sounds strange, but it really works. It’s almost like you are getting insight into their world at the same time you are sitting back and watching everything unfold.
I highly recommend this book. I look forward to reading more from Eleanor Brown.
The Island is a story about relationships centered around four women: Birdie, Chess, Tate and India.
Birdie, a divorcee, planning her daughter’s wedding and generally looking for things to occupy her time since her divorce from Grant two years ago. She proposes a last hurrah of sorts with Chess, her eldest daughter. who is getting married in the Fall. She would like to go to Tuckernuck Island (near Nantucket) and spend two weeks at the old Tate family house. Chess, a successful editor at Glamorous Home, initially is hesitant. She then decides to go with her mom.
Birdie calls the man who had been the caretaker of the house and asks him to prepare it for their stay. The caretaker is retired, but his son, Barrett, can take care of the renovations to those house. After being abandoned for thirteen years the house has seen better days. It needs a lot of repair, but Barrett feels that he can have it repaired in time for Birdie’s trip with her daughter in July.
Then everything changes. Chess calls off the wedding and she quits her job. She also cuts her beautiful hair. She flees the city to stay with her mother. And then tragedy strikes, her ex-finance dies in a mountain climbing accident. Continue reading
Synopsis: Betty Weissman is stunned when her husband, Joseph, of 48 years announced that he would like a divorce sitting “irreconcilable difference”. When Betty is forced to leave her and Joseph’s apartment in New York and flee to Westport she is joined by her daughter Miranda, who’s career as a successful literary agent crashed after yet another one of her clients is found guilty of lying about their book. Annie, Betty and Joseph’s other daughter, moves to Westport to keep an eye on her mother, sister and manage the finance
My thoughts: This book was a huge disappointment. I bought the book as a result of seeing a glowing review in the New York Times. Other reviews I read suggested this was going to be a funny book about a mother and her daughters exiled in Westport. Either Schine forgot to bring the funny or these reviewers have a wildly different definition of what is funny compared to me.
I found myself struggling to finish the book. After about 100 pages I thought about giving it up but since I actually bought the book I felt like I should see it to the end. I also kept thinking that it would improve. It did not.
The women in the book were annoying and weak. I wanted to care about Betty, Annie and Miranda and their plights but I couldn’t be bothered because I never felt any sort of connection to them or any of the other characters. The only character I did enjoy was that of a young child, Harry, who ends up being cared for by Miranda.
Lastly, I think if Jane Austen were to read this book I really don’t think she would be happy with the comparisons to Sense and Sensibility. That book is a classic. This is not.
There is something about summer that compels me to read books centered around beach communities in the Northeast. So it should come as no surprise that I picked up Nancy Thayer’s latest, Beachcombers, a story about three sisters who find themselves all living in their childhood home in Nantucket.
Abbie, the oldest, has been away from the family for two years living in Europe and working as a nanny. She’s enjoying her independence after giving up her dreams for so many years to take care of her sisters after her mother died. Emma, the middle child, was a successful investment banker. When the economy stumbled, she found herself broke, without a job and or a fiance. (He was kind enough to dump her and take up with another banker in their office.) Lily, the baby, lives at home and works for a local newspaper covering the social events on the island.
The book begins when Emma’s job loss forces her to move home and her depression worries Lily so much that she summons Abbie to return home. When Abbie arrives at home she finds that the economy has also placed a strain on her father. He has rented out “the playhouse” to a 40 year old recent divorce from the Midwest. Marina, hurting from her ex-husband’s betrayal, has fled to Nantucket to escape and heal in a place that brought her much joy when she was younger.
Beachcombers is a wonderful story about unexpected relationships and the process of healing. Each of the women becomes involved in a relationship which on the surface may appear complicated or not to work but is exactly what they need. Thayer does an excellent job painting the characters especially Howell, Harry and Mrs. Bracebridge.
My one complaint about this book centered around the character of Lily. At times, I found her behavior too childish for a woman in her early 20s. I also found myself frustrated at times with her sister’s reaction or over-reaction to minor incidents like Lily forgetting to buy milk for the house. I understood what Thayer was trying to do but it just felt a little much.
That being said I highly enjoyed this book. I found myself losing myself in the story and the characters. I would recommend this book and give it a 4.5/5. Now to to check out more books by Thayer….
Jane Green‘s new book, Promises to Keep, should come with a huge warning: Have a box of Kleenex nearby when reading.
I didn’t pay much attention to the book description when I requested the book from my local library. Shortly into the book it became clear that this book was going to be different from Green’s previous books. Jane Green is one of the authors that helped define ‘chick lit’. Imagine my surprise that instead of the light, fluffy escapist read I was expecting, I got a book about a woman dealing with cancer diagnosis leaving her with less than a year to live.
Callie has the perfect life. She’s married to the perfect husband, has two adorable children and a career as a photographer. Her sister, Steffi, is a bit of a free spirit. She lives with a guy in a band that she doesn’t particularly love and works by day as a vegan chef in a tiny neighborhood restaurant. Callie’s best friend recently moved to Connecticut and recently found Mr. Right but he comes with some baggage, a horrid ex-wife and a wonderful son.
Green spends the first part of the book building up how Callie is living the perfect life. You just know that something horrible is going to happen. So when she blacks out and is in a car accident and later finds out her cancer is back it comes as no surprise. The rest of the book is spent on how her friends and family rally around her to support her during her last days. It also focuses on the changes that they make in their life as a result of her battle. The message that life is too short and you need to spend time doing things that are important comes across. Make time and spend it with your children. Be with the right person. Set aside your differences.
What I liked about this book is that it was a bit of a departure from Green’s previous books. Obviously this is personal to her as she dedicates it to her good friend who lost her battle to cancer. I loved the line Love is actually a verb. You need to show your love by actions and they don’t need to be grandiose. Little things are important too.
So while the book is completely predictable, it was a good read. Just remember to have the tissues near.
Sarah Harper has a great job in advertising in New York City, and then the next day she doesn’t. One little email forward changes her life forever. She flees to Texas where she is going to visit with her sister and figure out what she is going to do with her life. Then a new plan is hatched. Sarah is going to be a surrogate for her sister. Throughout her pregnancy Sarah faces new challenges, grieving her long deceased mother, accepting a new stepmother, finding a new job, and finding love.
Katherine Center does a wonderful job portraying the relationship between Sarah and her sister. It’s easy to understand why Sarah would want to change her life for her sister. The supporting characters are quirky and provide for comic relief at times. This book is the perfect read for a rainy afternoon.
Disclosure: I received this as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program.