Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Weird Sisters

I'll admit--Shakespeare's not really my thing.  I read a few plays required in high school, but Shakespeare is really more Jeremy's thing.  He read it, acted in it, even sacrificed his body for it when he had his nose broken by broadsword during Macbeth--turns out that stage blood wasn't necessary after all. 

But I thought this book The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown sounded interesting, about three adult women all returning for their own reasons to the home of their parents, where their father, who is a college professor on Shakespeare speaks to them and tries even to give cryptic advice to them through lines of Shakespeare.

The book is fascinating in that it is narrated by the sisters collectively. The sisters tell of sister number one and her problems and then move on to sister number two, still speaking strictly collectively but omnisciently.

It’s a story about life and struggles, and though my life is quite different from everyone in the book, I still found some parts that really spoke to me.

After a conversation with her fiancé Rose, the eldest, considers the way she has lived her life, “[C]hasing some shadow of the way things were Supposed to Be? There were days, yes, when Rose felt as though she had been on this earth forever, since the dinosaurs at least, but she knew she was young. It seemed so early to have signed her whole life away, but it seemed so exhausting to change anything” (p 119).

I’ve found as I get a little bit older that I really have held myself back according to some standard of the way things are “supposed to be”. In many different areas of our culture there are a lot of unspoken rules that I find myself rebelling against these days.

At one point, reflecting on their parents’ marriage they say, “We have always wondered why there is not more research done on the children of happy marriages. Our parents’ love is not some grand passion, there are no swoons of lust, no ball gowns and tuxedo’s but here is the truth: they have not spent a night apart since the day they married” (p 156).

Though Jeremy and I spent our first night apart less than a month after being married (he was traveling with BYU Men’s Chorus) I like this thought of the simple things being meaningful in a marriage of true love—though I’d still like a ball gown!

After Cordy, the youngest sister, witnesses her Mom’s true frailties the sisters ask, “How old were you when you first realized your parents were human? That they were not omnipotent; that what they said did not, in fact, go; that they had dreams and feelings and scars? Or have you not realized that yet? Do you still call your parents and have a one-sided conversation with them, child to parent, not adult to adult?” (p 262)

I still remember the moment I realized this. The experience is too personal to share. But, though I do still call my parents as a child, I hope that I also often call as an adult as well.

Perhaps because I’ve been appreciative of my own ecclesiastical leaders recently I really welcomed Bean, the middle sister’s, “confession scene” and counseling from Father Aidan. In confronting the true source of bean’s behavior he advises her, “We all have stories we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves we are too fat, or too ugly, or too old, or too foolish. We tell ourselves these stories because they allow us to excuse our actions, and they allow us to pass off the responsibility for things we have done—maybe to something within our control, but anything other than the decisions we have made” (337).

If that doesn’t cause pause for a moment of reflection on our own lives and behaviors then I don’t know what will.

I recommend this book with reservations. The “F-word” (and variations) was used about 6 or so times, and there was talk of sex—not descriptions of sex, but talk of it. If you feel capable of skipping past a few things like that then I think you’ll be able to find plenty of interesting things in this book.

I'm so excited to have read this book as a part of the Blogher Book club.  There will be great discussions  going on at the book club webpage for the next four weeks --plenty of time to get involved!

"This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own." 

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