Chataround, My condolences on the loss of such a close family member.
Regarding the father, he reminded me of my strict, stern Norwegian father whom I loved dearly. As a child, though, he was pretty remote, focusing his loving attention on my mother with whom he was deeply in love. It was only in adulthood that I realized how similar my father and I were and became close to him.
My mother, unfortunately, probably suffered from undiagnosed chronic major depression and so wasn't very available to my siblings and me even though she was a SAHM (at my father's insistence, I might add). In many ways we were left to fend for ourselves as far as finding ways to pass the time when we weren't in school and I was always timid about pushing boundaries, unlike my siblings. I never doubted their love for us. Ironically, after all those years of being the "good girl" I am the one who has been a marital disaster zone and experienced one crisis after another as an adult.
It seems to me that the three siblings in the story experienced the same remote parents that I did and that the whole family escaped by reading, anything and everything even though there was a strong Shakespearean influence. Once they reached adulthood the sisters were left without a sound framework upon which to base their decisions. Thus they each initially chose somewhat stereotypical, and not particularly healthy, lifestyles for themselves.
Regarding the question posted by chataround, I think that had the family been focused on something other than reading they would have experienced more social interactions and likely would have turned out quite differently. However, if the whole family had been focused on a particular activity, they may have ended up much the same as they would have had a narrower view of their world. I have no idea how they might have been different if the reading hadn't been so focused on Shakespeare.