My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a book that I probably wouldn’t have read without a very strong recommendation, as it doesn’t fit comfortably into my usual tastes. I would have missed out on some excellent writing.
I actually listened to this book as an audible.com download on my recent trip to visit family for a wedding and the 4th of July holiday. My wife and I were entranced by the beautiful use of language and were drawn to the sisters’ stories. Before the trip was over, my 19 year old son and 17 year old daughter were also caught up. Not what I expected, I admit.
So, what is it about this book that drew in my entire family? We are all suckers for Shakespeare. The references and quotes were entertaining to be sure, but I don’t think that was enough. The sisters’ quirky, complicated, lives were both familiar yet strange enough to be interesting as were their relationships to each other.
Honestly, I think it was the writing. I often separate my view of a work into writing (use of language) and storytelling. Many books are wonderful stories but the writing might be slightly better than average (like Harry Potter), other books can have marvelous writing without having a story I’m drawn to. This book had overwhelmingly good writing and the story was worthy with characters I learned to care about very quickly.
I would be remiss if I failed to include the mother and father in this review. I very much liked how enigmatic their characters were at the beginning, more objects than people, and as the sisters looked beyond themselves the parents became more real. It is the way with children and was well delivered in this book.
Also, the narrative voice was unique in my experience. I don’t even know what to call it. It is both first person and third person omniscient. The view is from the sisters’ point of view, but it shifts so that it is can be a sister or all the sisters without ever actually being a particular sister. Very creative and bizarre.
As for that Cuckoo Clock? That line went by and I think my jaw dropped. I stopped the book and looked at my kids. My son says, “The cuckoo clock?” “Yeah”, I said. “Great line.”, he says. My daughter caught it as well. Not pivotal or anything. Just a one-line fabulous piece of writing.