Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review Friday -- The Brontës Went to Woolworths: A Novel

It's Book Review Friday again, and this is one of my favorite books that I reviewed for Sacramento Book Review.

I've always loved reading about the Brontës.  I read biographies about them when I was a teenager, and even tried to write an itty-bitty novel in tiny handwriting, like they did.  (I was a Brontë wannabe.)  I loved various movies made of Jane Eyre.  Of course, I now realize what a creepy guy Rochester really was!  (Would you want your daughter to marry a man who kept his mad wife hidden in the attic, and said she started the very fire she died in?)   But Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were favorite reads of mine.  Both were tightly written, suspensful books that kept me turning pages.  Those sisters knew how to keep a plot moving.

Likewise, I'm always charmed by how English writers can tell a tale.  So I was delighted to read a novel that had Brontës in the title, written by an English writer with a sly sense of humor.  The Brontës Went to Woolworths, a revived classic by Rachel Ferguson, does not disappoint.

One of the joys of writing reviews for Sacramento Book Review , by the way, is that they send me FANTASTIC BOOKS!  Go check out their site:  They have tons of fine reviews of great books by really good reviewers.

Here we go with today's shared review:

The Brontes Went to Woolworths: A Novel

By Rachel Ferguson
Bloomsbury Press, $14.00, 188 pages
The Carne family – a widow and three daughters – live in 1930s London.  Dierdre, a journalist in her twenties, is writing a novel.  Katrine, also in her twenties, studies Drama.  Shiel is young enough to have a governess – the distraught Miss Martin, ever befuddled by this family’s favorite entertainment.

The Carnes have invented a game turning actors, literary figures, even their dog and a doll into imaginary friends who ring them up and give them birthday presents.  They invent dialogues for these characters, quoting them in a heartbeat.  Miss Martin never is sure what’s real and what isn’t. 
Then Dierdre accompanies her mother to jury duty.  When Judge Toddington sweeps into court, he becomes woven into the game as “Toddy”.  One day Dierdre covers a charity bazaar where the real Lady Toddington has a stall.  Lady Toddington takes a liking to Deirdre, inviting her home.  Very funny scenes unfold as a friendship develops between the two families, just when Miss Martin is sure the relationship is fictional. 
In this sly tale, all of the characters captivate, including the governess and the Toddingtons. 
A séance brings the Brontes into the story.  So as not to be a spoiler, I’ll say no more. 


Anonymous said...

Elizabeth: Thanks for posting a comment on one of my posts on my new WordPress blog, and for tweeting it also! I'm knee deep in book promotion, and appreciate all the support I've received from my blogger friends. And other friends and family are supporting it, too. It seems to be selling well.

My helper finally got the Google Friend Connect icon on my new WordPress blog. As of today, it's up! Bloggers on blogspot like this, and now I can keep track of my followers, too. Though I've got to devise another scheme to really keep them without Blogger.

I love the Brontes, too. There are just SO many good books to read. I just wish I could buy all of them. This would definitely be on my list. I'll see if it's an ebook. They usually cost less.
Ann Best’s Blog

Richard said...

The Brontes are fascinating people. I'm glad you reviewed an adult book. I've tried reading YA books, but can never seem to get into them. It takes a special talent to read and write YA and children's books. And yours is a good review.

Victoria Dixon said...

YEAH! I do enjoy the occasional reworking of Bronte and Austen. Have you read The Eyre Affair? It's a tongue-in-cheek S.F. reworking of Jane Eyre and had me giggling the entire way. And I am NOT a giggler. ;) This one sounds like fun. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

Rosi said...

This sounds like a lot of fun. I would think a lot of YA readers would enjoy it as well. Thanks for posting an interesting review.

Michelle Fayard said...

Who wouldn't want to read a book with a title like this one? I love the idea of mixing up famous characters with the book's protagonists.


Kimberly said...

Great review. The book sounds really fun. I like how it's hard for the governess to figure out what's real and what isn't - that intrigues me!

Janet Johnson said...

This book sounds fun! I was never a Bronte fan, but I do love the English sense of humor. :)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Ann, glad everything is working well and I hope your book does well. I know what you mean about so many books! And so many GOOD books, that's the problem! How to find time to read them.

Richard, I think this is a book YA readers would like, too. Heck, when I was a teenager, I liked a lot of adult books that now qualify as YA but didn't then.

Victoria, I haven't read the Eyre affair, but now I would like to!

Rosi, Michelle, and Kimberly, it's a terrific book, and I think you would enjoy it so much. Great read!

Janet, yes, that British sense of humor. It can pop up at the most amazing time in a story. It's so... satisfying! BTW, thanks for following me.

Carrie said...

I LOVED this book! I second Victoria's recommendation for The Eyre Affair: it is a lot of fun.

Have you read Daphne by Justine Picardie? Totally different tone but wonderful for a Bronte (or du Maurier) fan!

Rachna Chhabria said...

This book sounds cool. Would love to read it.Enjoyed the review.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Carrie, I AM a du Maurier fan as well as a Bronte fan. Now I have to find both those books!

Rachna, thanks, and I think you would like the book. I love how all these tips for good reads are possible in the blogosphere, don't you?

Jayne said...

I loved Wuthering Heights, but one of my darkest secrets is that I haven't read many Bronte books or any by Jane Austen. I know! I'll rectify it one day, not quite sure how they have passed me by! This sounds an interesting tale; I like the setting.

Tim Greaton said...

Love your appreciation for the classics as well as your commentary on the characters. Looking forward to reading more. I'm following now :-)

Lauri said...

You always add to my reading list! Love the Brontes.

Stacy Henrie said...

I love reading about the Brontes too. Sounds like a super fun boook!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Jane, one of my deep dark secrets is tht I have never read the Hobbit.

Tim, thanks for following me, and your blog is certainly interesting too. How do you keep up with so many projects?

Laurir and Stacy, I'm so glad to meet more Bronte lovers. They were remarkable for their era, when you think about it.

Kenda said...

Elizabeth--I enjoy your reviews. Thanks for giving the heads-up to interesting reads!

Passed a couple of awards your way today over at my place...