This is a story of three sisters whose father, Dr. James Andreas, is a Shakespearean scholar at a small liberal arts college in Barnwell, Ohio.
Consequently, Rosalind (Rose), Bianca (Bean) and Cordelia (Cordy), named after heroines in Shakespeare’s plays, grew up steeped in Shakespeare. Their differences create the tension in this novel.
The book is written from the perspectives of all three sisters at once, in first person-plural; the three sisters speak in a single voice. This helps to authenticate the sisters’ relationships, their secrets, their love of books and their concerns about identity and how they have defined themselves in relationship to one another.
The premise revolves around the three sisters returning home (one has never left), when their father contacts them about their mother and her diagnosis of breast cancer. In fact, his method of informing them of his wife’s cancer is through Shakespearean verse. The author quotes and refers to Shakespeare often, which indicates quite a bit of careful research. The quotes are used well and add to the story line.
This debut novel contains interesting descriptions of nostalgic small-town life and flashbacks to the sisters’ unusual childhoods, in which they learned to “couch/ recite” their feelings in verse. Readers who enjoy reading about family dynamics and sibling relationships will enjoy this novel.