In a debut about growing up, secrets and failures are predictably resolved when a family crisis reunites three bright but unhappy siblings.
As the daughters of a Shakespeare scholar, the Andreas girls are no strangers to the Bard. Oldest Rosalind (known as Rose) is named after the heroine of As You Like It, Bianca (Bean) has the name of the tamed shrew’s sister and daddy’s girl Cordelia (Cordy) bears the name of King Lear’s devoted youngest. Their “weird”ness refers to Macbeth, although the three are far from witch-like, just averagely bookish women grappling with their unusual upbringing and some dubious adult choices. Drawn home to Barnwell, Ohio, because of their mother’s breast cancer, the sisters reassemble uneasily in their parents’ house—footloose Cordy, now pregnant; self-hating, morally dubious Bean, sacked after embezzling from her New York employers; and overly dutiful Rose. Quirky and perky, Brown’s narrative uses light comedy to balance the serious life issues. The family’s habit of quoting Shakespeare at every turn is less amusing, and there’s also the curious plural narrative voice—“our sister,” “our parents,”—seemingly the collective point of view of all three daughters. The story itself is a lengthy account of the women facing their demons, assisted by saintly parents, friends and neighbors who offer jobs, reassurance and romance. All’s well that ends well.
Readable, upmarket, non-mold-breaking escapism.