Saturday, March 5, 2016
New Release: The Madwoman Upstairs
New this past week, The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell is an exploration of the Brontë family from the viewpoint of their last remaining descendant, Samantha, who has no love for the tragic siblings regardless of the fact that she is supposedly the heir to a secret trove of Brontë treasures. Even though she has just arrived at (the fictional) Old College, Oxford, to study English literature, she refuses to read the Brontës or any classic authors. Her tutor, however, wants her to expand her knowledge and analytical skills and so they begin a course of study that may eventually reveal Sam's inheritance from her famous ancestors.
First let me tell you what this is not. It is not a modern retelling of any of the Brontë stories. It is not a sequel. It does not use any of the historical characters in a fictional way, other than Samantha's suppositions about some of what could have happened between them that was not recorded. I know I actively avoid some of these kinds of books and so do some of you so I wanted to put this out there. What you do get in this novel is a presentation of the Brontës' lives, their works, and the possible ways to analyze both. You also get a lot of history, a trip to Haworth Parsonage, and a lovely experience with the decrepit tower room that Sam is supposed to live in.
Sam is probably one of the most perplexing and sometimes maddening narrators that I have ever encountered. She blurts out responses to reasonable questions that are strange, rude, and almost entirely out of place. She makes terrible decisions even for a first year college student and she is a horrible judge of character. Whether these things are a consequence of being homeschooled by her author father or are just in her nature is left to the reader to decide. However, despite Sam's attempts at making me dislike this book, I stayed up until 5am finishing it and am recommending it to all of you!
Planning some Brontë rereads,