The Heroine’s Bookshelf Book Review
The Heroine’s Bookshelf (Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder) is part literary analysis and part self-help. Erin Blakemore is a journalist; this book is her debut and only novel to date. She asserts that though the time in which these books were written gets further away and further away, there is still much we can learn from the extraordinary heroines that live in their pages.
The author begins by addressing each writer’s life and the similarities they share with their heroines. She goes on to analyze the heroine’s journey and admirable traits. Each chapter has a heading such as Dignity, Faith or Happiness. These headings correspond to each heroine and the lessons we as modern heroines can glean from their example. Each chapter ends with a recommendation of when to turn to the novel in question and each heroine’s ‘literary sisters’. This will either delight or annoy you. I found myself enjoying this little quirky addition.
You will be familiar with many of the author’s choices but not all necessarily. The author has chosen favorites that many of us also hold close to our hearts such as Lizzie Bennet, Jo March, Jane Eyre, Celie and Anne Shirley among others that may be less well known. It is an uplifting homage to the women that have captured our collective imagination and long outlived their unique creators. Finding the parallels in the author’s own lives does not detract from those of their heroines but rather enriches and improves our understanding of the chosen texts. Each chapter is scattered with pertinent passages from the novels in question which illuminate things further.
Told with sensitivity and great love for these great authors and their notorious creations, The Heroine’s Bookshelf is a joy to read, and it is a short read that you can fly through. The book is also very easy to dip into and can be read in no particular order. Truly, The Heroine’s Bookshelf is a book as informative as it is enjoyable. You will probably find yourself learning a great deal while finding much gentle encouragement throughout. It is a book that makes you proud to be a woman and will likely send you back to old favorites for a reread. You may even find a new heroine to follow.
Above all, this is a book by a fan for other fans and if you didn’t enjoy the books Blakemore discusses then you will likely not find it entertaining. However, if you love these characters and want to know more about their authors, then The Heroine’s Bookshelf is for you. If you are looking for a fun and informative read to crack open whenever you’re doubting yourself then look no further than this useful little tome.
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