Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Second Fiddle Shakespeare

There's something you don't hear everyday.

I knew about Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters, her debut novel about a father and his three daughters who spend a good chunk of their time quoting Shakespeare.  I actually have a copy around here someplace that was sent to me as a gift (thanks!)

I just assumed that it followed the standard format, where somebody took a bunch of Shakespeare as foundation and then wrote a story around it.  I mean, after all - weird sisters? Father and his three daughters? Seemed obvious. But this interview with the author is where I spotted the "second fiddle" thing, because it's here that she comes right out and says that all the Shakespeare content is not an homage, but rather the "workhorses" for getting her bigger point across.

I wonder about that.  Like I said, I've not yet read the book.  Is it even possible for Shakespeare to play second fiddle?  You have to imagine that most of the press she got was for the Shakespeare connection.  And I'd bet that most of the people that read it, did so for the Shakespeare.  So is she really saying that she gave us the ol' bait and switch, dangling some Shakespeare and setting the readers' expectations, only to deliver something different?

Any of you read the book?  I'm curious what the dedicated Shakespeare geeks thought of it.  Did you come for the Shakespeare and leave disappointed?


CGriff said...


I did read it for the Shakespeare, and figured I'd missed something.

JM said...

Shakespeare has played 'second fiddle' to a lot of creativity *and* rationalized machinations initially inspired by a "connection" to him. After reading CGriff's review it sounds as though the characters at least partially take on the attributes of their Shakespearean namesakes and are recognizable to an extent through those assumptions. If that's where the resemblance to anything 'Shakespeare' ends, then so be it. But it does seem to be about people with a very strong connection to the Work. The author is, after all, writing an original story, not billing it as "Shakespeare". Actually, I find her honesty about her intentions refreshing.

JM said...

Here's a link to a radio interview with the author someone left on my blog. She gets a little more into the Shakespeare connection,what her intentions were, and how it applies, than she did in the article. The host also does a show on recent books related to Shakespeare.