The third Penguin Twitter Book Club discussion of The Weird Sisters was slightly different because we were missing author extraordinaire Eleanor Brown. The folks at Penguin did an incredible job in her stead as we tackled some extremely action heavy chapters.
Once more, a quick synopsis, courtesy of the publisher:
Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can’t solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard’s heroines. It’s a lot to live up to.
The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents’ frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them…
WARNING: THE SPOILERS COMETH!
- Fear: The folks at Penguin kicked off the discussion by asking if we feel the sisters are being controlled by their fears. The answer was a unanimous yes, and one reader went so far as to say they’re paralyzed by fear. Everyone differed about which sister was the most fearful; Penguin thought it was Bean, while I thought it was Rose, because her situation is the easiest to fix, yet she has the most difficult time overcoming it. Julie agreed that Rose’s fear of change was extremely frustrating and that, at times, she wanted to tell her to “just move to England, dammit!” Because, as we said in the last discussion, Jonathan is so wonderful that it would be a no brainer to anyone else. Ironically, the mother, who is usually flightier than Cordy and who is easily in the scariest situation, handles herself with the most poise and bravery.
Another fear that we discussed and that I’d almost forgotten was fear of not living up to their names: Rose has the pressure of finding her Orlando as Rosalind did in As You Like It, Bean has to be the perfect and beautiful daughter like Bianca in Taming of the Shrew, and Cordy has to be the loyal youngest daughter like Cordelia in King Lear. One reader rightly pointed out that it’s a lot of pressure to carry names like that.
- Change: Discussing the sisters’ fears led to the question of whether they were too comfortable with their current situations to change. One reader pointed out that they had to change, otherwise we wouldn’t have a book, and that by the end of chapter 15, which was our cut off point, it’s pretty clear that they probably will do something about their lives. Penguin pointed out that that “maybe” is the key: “We want the sisters to change, but can they?” This was the point where I had to clam up or risk spoiling the book.
- Dad’s reaction to Cordy’s pregnancy: Something that struck me most about these chapters was Mr. Andreas’s reaction to Cordy’s pregnancy. Because he’s so absentminded and always has his head in a book, his reactions to his daughters’ life choices have been anything but typical, so for him to get angry over Cordy’s pregnancy really surprised me, particularly because Cordy gets away with everything. Some said that his reaction might show that, even though he seems hands off, he’s a father first. Others said that it might reflect a secret that he’s holding on to, or that helping his wife battle cancer is affecting him more than we thought. Others still weren’t surprised at all, because Cordy is his father’s favorite and she’s disappointed him by being so irresponsible.
Tune in tomorrow at 4 p.m. when we discuss up to Chapter 21. You can follow the discussion at hashtag #readpenguin.