The novel centers on three sisters: Rosalind (or Rose), Bianca (or Bean), and Cordelia (or Cordy). Their father is a huge Bard fan, a professor at a local small-town college, and got the preference of naming his daughters. It's actually quite funny they way they tell it - what else could a second daughter be called but Bianca? Or a third but Cordelia? Duh. Their mother smiles and bears it, but is the more practical of the two parents. However, EVERYONE reads. A characteristic of their household is that they will read any book set in front of them, even if they pick it up from where someone else left it and just pick up in the middle. The town they live in is so small, too, and so full of professors, that the girls were educated in a sort of commune-school. All of the professors chipped in for a house, and held lessons on their subject whenever they felt like it for all of their children. You could wander in on a chemistry lesson in the kitchen, or read a book on literary analysis in the attic. Crazy, but fun.
In the present day, Rose is engaged to a successful professor who is being offered a wonderful job in London, but she doesn't want to leave home. Bean returns home in disgrace from a flashy New York lifestyle, and Cordy finds her way back from a windblown existence on the road. They couldn't be more different, but then neither could their namesakes be more different.
I might have to read it again to really see the connections, but it could be that Rose is an extension of Rosalind - who loses her home and everything she ever knows only to truly find herself when she is lost. Bianca is a favored second daughter tormented and overshadowed by Katherina (potentially in jealousy for the way men flock to Bianca's side?), while Bean is a tour du force of sexual attraction, but she must find herself without being defined by a partner. And Cordy is a sort of prodigal daughter, the beloved youngest, the one who needs forgiveness for one misstep from her father, the one who wanders lost and alone until she comes home again to find everything changed.
Anywho - it was a lovely read, with some wonderful characters. I'll give it another shot.
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (January 20, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399157220
- ISBN-13: 978-0399157226