In Search of a Voice

Only days after I reflected on how some writers break the rules with unconventional story telling skills, I came upon another writer, who tried something different.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown is the story of three grown-up sisters reunited in their childhood home when their mother gets cancer.

The title  – I’m not a big Shakespeare’s connoisseur, eh I grew up in France – and subject – I have three daughters – initially drew me to the book.

But it is the very rare use of the first person plural that pulled me deeper into the story. The majority of the novel is told in the third person, but to renderer the collective perspective of the three sisters, Eleanor Brown made this audacious and challenging choice.

It first surprised me, but quickly I stopped noticing, and the three sisters, regardless of their flaws, became very personable and likeable.

And the only reason is the deliberate choice of the collective pronoun, used by the author whenever she wants to reinforce the idea that our families of origins remain with us. The three sisters then became one.

The novel is not one of my most recent favorites books – although a pleasant read, filled with humor and heart.

Nevertheless, I admire how the author has left the tranches and has taken a risk.

Once at a writing conference, little cards, printed with drawings and quotes, decorated the dining tables. Mine read:

“True voice comes from somewhere inside the writer or inside the characters.”  Dick Jackson, in an interview with Steve Malk.

I’ve always kept this card, hoping to work hard enough to get someday “my” voice.

In The Weird Sisters, the voice is the daring use of “We,” and having mastered its use. Bravo, Eleanor Brown.

Another challenge to match, writers!

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