Okay, so it was only supposed to be every other week, not a whole month between posts. In my defense I have been reading relevant to my novel, so it was still noveling that got in the way of the posts, even though it was the reading part of noveling.
So I am drinking a beer during Independence Day after talking my husband into taking us to the beach first thing in this heat wave, before the beach turned into the inevitable crap show and we went home to sit in front of movies and AC. Holidays are for breaking a long silence on my blog, yes?
Oh, and Happy Birthday to America, of course. I found sparklers this year which I haven’t gotten to use in YEARS. My beach going, treats eating, movie watching sadly deprived son will get to see the magic tonight. Because I like having a little magic in my son’s childhood. I enjoy adulthood but even I can’t say it isn’t a bit anti-climatic at times.
I thought the book I was reading for this post was a re-telling of Jane Eyre. I decided to commit to it anyway after I discovered that it wasn’t exactly a re-telling, to go with my theme. It’s not even a BookRiot category. Seriously, I am a mess this summer. But since I have read Wide Sargasso Sea, which I loved, I am not sure any other Jane Eyre re-telling would get a fair shake compared to that. I also read and reviewed Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye, which is somewhat of a re-telling, and I thought that was hilarious. I have the newest Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker, but I thought of that too late.
The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell
Like I said, this is not a Bertha Rochester special, although she does get some time in the narrative. But so does Agnes Grey, Helen Graham, Heathcliff, Cathy, Jane and Mr. Rochester. This is about a young scholar trying to find her eccentric father’s inheritance through their shared relation to, and study of, the Bronte sisters and their works. She is an American at Oxford and is studying one on one with a professor.
I have read all the Bronte novels save for Shirley and The Professor, which didn’t feature as much in this book, thankfully, as the other ones I read. I was going to do a Bronte blog entry once I get through those last two gems of Charlotte’s, and I still will, but I was glad I went into this having read as much Bronte as I had. This one started off slow, and without the context of what I had already read, I might not have continued with it. There is a lot of academic banter, and remembering that time in my life I could relate to it, but aiming the book toward someone who has been an academic as well as some familiarity with Bronte novels would limit the audience to whom it would appeal.
Once it did pick up into the meat of the mystery and the narrative, I did enjoy it, even though it was talking about Anne’s novels not being the best ones, when I might like Anne the best because shallowly I like her endings. Charlotte’s Villette and Jane Eyre end entirely in an unsatisfying manner, which may be why I have not tackled her last two, despite having them even on audio. I worry I will press through them just to take issue with how it all ended up. As much as I enjoyed Jane Eyre I didn’t like that she only truly captured Rochester after he was damaged goods.
I liked the way this one ended and I am surprised that I liked it, because usually I don’t go for that sort of thing. I can’t say what it was in case a fellow reader decently versed in Bronte and doesn’t mind literary criticism talk reads this post and wants to check out the book for herself. Other strong points were the description and the language, beautiful and poetic metaphors, and the sarcastic tone. The audio narrator captured this sarcastic tone well and the tone was fitting the point of view character, a young academic who wasn’t so young as to have evaded enough sadness and disappointment to be a little cynical herself. I liked also that it was not just about the Bronte novels but who the sisters were behind them and what ‘madness’ really meant in their context and is not quite the ‘madness’ that I have known in my professional life.
I don’t mind being part of a niche. I would like to think I don’t love white people problems the most as a book topic, but I do. I am looking forward to reading more literature with nonwhite or nonwestern characters, I really am, but I can get sucked right into the problems of the privileged. Not super super privileged, as I lose patience with those people and saccharine plot lines fast, but women who are able to get educations and have careers are my jam.
I can’t tell you where this blog will go next, if I am going to do something like re-read Jasper Fforde’s Eyre Affair, which might be completely different now that I have read many of the novels that it references and I hadn’t back in 2007 flying across the country alone, or go for another re-telling, or go back to Book Riot, or take my readers on a tour of the most epic she-shed of she-sheds, which is nearing completion in my yard. I am into another round of revisions after meeting with my excellent instructor and I have started to read more Anthony Doerr to punch up my poetic language, but I don’t know if that goes with my current blog-tastic themes. But it’s better than not posting at all. Reader, you will have to stay tuned.
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