Author Guest Post: Eleanor Brown (TLC Book Tour)

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
ISBN 978-0-399-15722-6
336 Pages
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (January 20, 2011)

It is the rare book that will keep me up way past my bedtime, but Eleanor Brown’s wonderful debut novel The Weird Sisters did just that – I just couldn’t stop reading! This is one of those books that I just want to press into other readers’ hands and demand that they read it. Read my full review here.

The book resonated with me on many levels, but certainly because I am the youngest of three sisters (that’s us in Vermont in about 1964). The photos in our albums show girls who were often dressed identically in the first few years of our lives, looking very alike despite the one and a half years between us. We are all different, unique in our own ways, individuals … but our genetic makeup and our collective memories bind us as sisters – a bond that can never be broken. This is what Brown’s novel speaks to the loudest: the unbreakable bond of sisters, the turning to each other despite the differences in personality, and unexplainable ambivalence, and past history which may or may not contain jealousy or betrayal or petty arguments. What a great book!

So, it is with great pleasure that I invited Eleanor Brown to my blog today as part of a TLC Book Tour. She agreed to provide a guest post, and I hope that after you read it, you will be even MORE convinced that you need to rush out and buy her book! Welcome Eleanor!!

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Sibling Stories
by Eleanor Brown

When I started writing The Weird Sisters, I also banned myself from reading books or seeing movies about sisters, and about siblings in general.

It was kind of shocking how much that cut my choices in entertainment.

We are fascinated with siblings – and especially sisters – and for good reason.  I recently re-connected with an old friend on Facebook and was shocked (and I’m not using that word lightly) to find that she was Facebook friends with her brother.  Every memory I have of visiting her house includes a fight between the two of them, often with slammed doors and melodramatic sobbing on both of their parts.

Granted, those memories are a good two decades old, and it’s not like being Facebook friends with someone is on a par with giving them a kidney, but I couldn’t picture their being anything but mortal enemies.

And yet we have so many stories that are about exactly that – about the bond between siblings, about sisterhood (by blood or by choice) and the lessons it teaches us, about the way that learning to care for our siblings is about learning to love ourselves.  They are, after all, the best mirror of our history that we have.

Now that I’m on to other projects, I have been drinking my fill of sibling stories, and there are so many wonderful ones I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you.

This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper – If you’ve never read anything by Tropper, this is a grand place to start: a gloriously dysfunctional set of siblings with family secrets to spare reunite to sit shiva for their father.  It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s also a perfect example of the way our relationships with our siblings continue to define us even as we change ourselves.

In Her Shoes, Jennifer Weiner – This book made me do a lot of thinking about the way families work, about the cultural expectation we have to put up with things from family members that we wouldn’t tolerate in a minute from anyone else.  The story of two wildly different sisters who need each other to unravel their family’s history and stop walking the narrow paths they have laid for themselves is both funny and emotional.

The Opposite of Me, Sarah Pekkanen – Another pair of sisters who are different, but amped up – Alex and Lindsey are twins, and Lindsey is the self-perceived ugly duckling.  Like the Andreas sisters in The Weird Sisters, Lindsey in particular needs to learn to break free of the role her family cast her in and define herself for a change.

The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy – With a horrible (and occasionally horrifying) family history, it’s no wonder that the siblings in the Wingo family are damaged the way they are.  But they already love each other, and desperately, the way survivors of a crisis are closer because of it.  The beauty here is watching the way they learned to love each other through the pain they endured.

Oh, there are so many more I want to mention – Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare’s King Lear or The Taming of the Shrew, but I would love to hear from you as well.  What sibling stories should everyone else be reading?

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Eleanor Brown was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, but has also lived in St. Paul, San Francisco, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Oxford, London, and Brighton, England.  She works in educational technology and lives in Colorado with her partner, writer and new media superstar, J.C. Hutchins.

Eleanor’s writing has appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers.  The Weird Sisters is her first novel and was published last week by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. Learn more about Brown and her work by visiting her website and blog. Readers may also connect with her on Facebook, and Twitter.

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18 comments

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    • Kim on January 23, 2011 at 23:46

    What a great guest post! I only have 1 sister, no brothers, and growing up, we were pretty close with just the usual sisterly squabbles. It was after we became adults that our relationship began to suffer. Jealousy and anger and hurtfulness is what defined our relationship. Then estrangement for 9 years. But now? Our relationship is healing, slowly, and I hope that we can truly become friends once again. Anyway, it is with great anticipation that I purchased Weird Sisters for my Kindle tonight and hope to start it sometime this week!
    *smiles*

  1. I loved this post! My sister and I used to fight like cats and dogs too, but we’re great friends these days. A wonderful story of siblings is The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antelek.

  2. My sister and I have always been close, but what Eleanor says about her friend and her friends’ brother being Facebook friends hits close to home. I just read CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson and one of the three story threads has to do with sisters and is incredibly fascinating – I can’t stop recommending the book to everyone. Thanks, Wendy and Eleanor!

    • Wendy on January 24, 2011 at 08:33
      Author

    Kim: I don’t think you are alone – many siblings, I think, become estranged for one reason or another. I’m glad to hear you are mending your relationship with your sister – and I hope you LOVE Weird Sisters … it is such a fabulous book.

    Kathy: I will need to check out Antelek’s book – I love stories about siblings.

    Lydia: I have Case Histories staring mournfully at me from my TBR stacks begging to be read – your high praise makes me want to pick it up immediately!

    • zibilee on January 24, 2011 at 09:46

    What a wonderful post! I often wish that I had sisters and could have shared that bond. It seems magical to me at times. Alas, I only have a brother, and through the years we have sort of drifted apart. Great guest post!

    • Wallace on January 24, 2011 at 10:57

    I keep hearing such wonderful things about this book. I am really looking forward to reading it!

    • Lisamm on January 24, 2011 at 11:29

    What a great post!! My sister and I fought about EVERYthing growing up; my mother used to cry because she didn’t have a sister. She would yell at us- “Stop fighting! You have no idea how lucky you are! A sister is a built in friend, something I always wanted!” To say we did not care is an understatement. We hated each other! But now, as adults, we are friends- although our relationship is not without it’s complications and annoyances! And I love the way you describe the sibling relationship as a mirror to our history- so very true. Great post! Thanks, Wendy and Eleanor!

    • Lisamm on January 24, 2011 at 11:36

    PS Forgot to mention that I really appreciated the recommendations on other sibling fiction! I just finished the first one you mentioned, This is Where I Leave You, and agree it’s a fascinating view of the grown-sibling dynamic.

    • Wendy on January 24, 2011 at 11:37
      Author

    Heather: Although a biological sister is indeed very special, I think women can find other women who become like sisters to them…I have a couple of friends who feel like “adopted sisters” to me and it is a very special bond.

    Wallace: Oh, please do – you won’t be sorry you did 🙂

    Lisa: One thing is certain – sister relationships can get very complicated! But they are also a gift. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Andi on January 24, 2011 at 12:49

    I’m convinced!

  3. Amy Li ……A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost. Charlotte Gray ……I would like more sisters that the taking out of one might not leave such stillness.

  4. Wendy, thank you SO much for inviting me to visit and for your lovely review. I adore your sister pictures.

    Thanks everyone else for visiting – I love your thoughts on siblinghood and your book recommendations!

    • Shelley on January 25, 2011 at 08:09

    Thanks for the post.

    Regarding Jane Austen, it’s terrifying to think of how alone she would have been without Cassandra.

  5. So that is the Eleanor Brown I have heard so much about! I absolutely cannot wait to start reading this book!

  6. Such a fun post with so many great recommendations! I grew up with four sisters (and six brothers!) so I guess it’s fair to say I’ve had some unique sibling experiences. My first novel, One Sister’s Song, explores sisterly tension and tenderness in a mixed-race family. K.

    • Wendy on January 25, 2011 at 17:24
      Author

    Andi: Oh good!

    Hugh: Thanks for sharing those quotes!

    Eleanor: You are very welcome – my pleasure 🙂

    Shelly: You’re welcome.

    Lisa: That is her – you’re in for a treat!

    Karen: Four sisters – wow – this book is definitely one you should read!!

  7. I simply cannot wait to read The Weird Sisters, I don’t think it’s out in the UK until August! 🙁 I have just finished a fabulous novel about sisters, indeed twin sisters, Wise Children by Angela Carter. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a novel as much – a wild, madcap, at times bawdy tale of Dora and Nora Chance, born on the wrong side on the tracks but boy, did they have a remarkable life growing up as hoofers in British theatrical society. I’m still digesting its vast array of flavours before embarking on my review! 🙂

    • Wendy on January 27, 2011 at 08:00
      Author

    Teresa: Thanks for the recommendation – I’ll have to look that one up! Hope Weird Sisters finds its way to the UK soon for you 🙂

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