Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Madwoman Upstairs - A Novel of The Last Bronte by Catherine Lowell - 2016 - 353 pages

 The Madwoman Upstairs - A Novel  of The Last Bronte by Catherine Lowell - 2016 - 353 pages

If you are seriously into the Brontes then I think you will find this novel fascinating.  It assumes you have reread at least Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and know them well enough to feel you could discuss the novels with an Oxford Don.  If you are also an avid reader of the lesser known Anne you will probably be in your glory.

Samantha Whipple, with the recent passing of her father,a well known writer, is the last descendant of the Brontes.  Everyone assumes she is the heir to a hidden fortune in diaries, letters, paintings and early manuscripts.  The problem is Samantha has never seen such items and has few clues about them.  For all she knows they do not exist.

When Samantha enrolls in Oxford she gets a lot of attention due to her ancestry.  With the help of James Orville, her Oxford Tutor and some strange clues she begins to unravel literary and family mysteries.

I enjoyed this book.  I liked the intense conversations about literature.   I was left waiting for a romance to develop.

I found the characters could have been better developed. I did not find a real sense of place in Oxford.  I thought the mother needed work to be interesting.  Her father’s old Love  interest was not all convincing.  

I would endorse this book to Bronte devoted readers.  

I must note it received all sorts of rave reviews 

“Catherine Lowell is writer of novels, letters, and the occasional limerick. She received her degree in English literature from Stanford University, where her academic interests were inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson's observation: "There is creative reading as well as creative writing." The Madwoman Upstairs owes its existence to a fierce love of the Brontës, a terrible bout of insomnia, and the kind hospitality of many Manhattan coffee shops. 

Catherine’s passions include obscure history books and hot chocolates. Her favorite quote is from Robin Williams:

"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

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