“But he that dares not grasp
the thorn, should never crave the rose.”—Anne
The other Brontë. The forgotten Brontë. The quiet, religious, boring younger Brontë sister. Such are the descriptions used regarding Anne Brontë, the baby sister of Charlotte and Emily, the queens of Gothic romance. For decades, Anne was a footnote in her sister’s lives, rarely mentioned and never appreciated for her genius until recently. Despite early attempts by Charlotte to stifle its popularity, we now hail her second novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as one of the first feminist novels. However, Anne published an earlier novel called Agnes Grey. It is the tale of a poor, plain governess who finds love and fulfills her dreams. She wrote it before her sister wrote Jane Eyre. It closely paralleled Anne’s experiences, except it has a happy ending.
As thin shadows swayed across my
window blind, my fingers clutched the book to my chest. My throat muscles
convulsed, and the blood trapped in my veins by the shock suddenly thundered
on, rushing heat through my body.
It was him… the creeping man.
This was my first identifiable memory as a Sherlock Holmes fan.
An individual’s preferences in entertainment, be it films, television, books, or music, are obviously deeply personal and varied. Everyone brings unique experiences to bear on how they receive a particular story. There are also times when a book or film can come along and capture you even though one or more elements of it are not what typically pleases you the most. Such was my experience with The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. Despite a lead character who differs greatly from me and its tragic ending, The House of Mirth still impressed me as an excellent, impactful narrative.
When I was seventeen, my parents gave me a set of four Jane Austen paperbacks in a little slipcover case for my birthday or Christmas, I forget which. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. I’d seen movie versions of the first three by then, but not of Persuasion. I read the other three first I think—it’s a hard to remember, twenty years later. Persuasion was the only one of Austen’s books my mom hadn’t read before, so she couldn’t tell me much about it either. I had to go into it not knowing anything but the blurb on the back cover.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of my favorite authors. His blatant use of symbols and clear messages about life through his stories is refreshing since, being an English major, my professors often tasked me with finding “deeper meanings” in texts. The back of my mind always wondering, “Does there have to be a deeper meaning?”
is the greater part of pleasure
The Bloody Chamber (or The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories) is a collection of short Gothic novels by English writer Angela Carter. She bases the stories on fairy tales, especially the folk tales of French collector Charles Perrault, whose prose Carter translated beforehand. Carter rewrites the plots of famous fairy tales in a unique style. This article contains a few spoilers.
Thousands of people the world over know and love Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of sisterhood, Little Women. But what not as many people know is Alcott wrote a follow-up book called Little Men. (There is also Jo’s Boys, but I won’t be getting into that travesty in this article.) Little Men follows the various adventures and mishaps of the young students at Jo Bhaer’s country school, Plumfield. One of these boys, Daniel Kean (‘Dan’), has become my favorite fictional character and I’m here to tell you why.
“You can hear a miracle a long way after dark.”
So begins my favorite book by my favorite fantasy author, Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints. Call me biased, but I believe it’s a flawless opening line.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is one of the most popular novels in American literature. Hawthorne is wordy, but his lengthy descriptions help construct the key symbolic additions to his plot and characters.
What if a little girl could get a better childhood through silence? What if she could get attention, affection, gifts and praise beyond her imagination for following one rule: don’t speak a single word? At a crucial moment, this seemed to be a very real option for six-year-old Ruth Young in The Bonesetter’s Daughter.