Hardcover: 224 pages
Release Date: October 19th, 2010
Source: I received this copy from the publisher for review.
The Heroine’s Bookshelf is a wonderful resource for women of all ages, highlighting the literary role models from stories already held close to readers’ hearts. What better way to relive classics told by beloved authors than through engaging essays that reintroduce us to the idea that many of our experiences, the good and the bad, are universal, felt by heroines both fictional and real.
Women such as Jo March, Lizzie Bennet, Scarlett O’Hara, and Scout Finch have many lessons to teach us, as do the female authors who brought them to life. I haven’t “met” all of the leading ladies featured in the book, but this didn’t stop me from enjoying their sections. In fact, it allowed me a fantastic introduction (I’m now totally fascinated by Celie from The Color Purple). While I found the analyses on the characters smart and insightful, I especially enjoyed the background on the authors. I loved Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden as a girl, yet I knew next to nothing about Lucy Maude Montgomery and Frances Hodgson Burnett. I enjoyed reading how the authors’ own lives inspired their writing and the heroines who made them household names.
Each chapter features a different trait with which a literary figure (and the author who penned her) identifies. Self, Faith, Happiness, Dignity, Family Ties, Indulgence, Fight, Compassion, Simplicity, Steadfastness, Ambition, and Magic head each of the twelve chapters, with discussion of the conflicts experienced by the associated character. Chapters end with “When to read this book” and “Literary Sisters” (basically, “If you liked this character, you’d also like…”), a nice touch. Interspersed throughout the book’s pages are Blakemore’s observations wrought from her own experiences, adding wit and a modern perspective.
With the Paris Hiltons of the world standing as “role models” to today’s young women, it is refreshing and reassuring to read a glorification of true female strength. I think this book is wonderful for women of all ages and literary reading experience, and I would particularly recommend it as a gift for teenage girls. The women chosen for each chapter exemplify grace under times of challenge and hardship, and the adolescent years certainly contain no shortage of dilemmas. Who knows, The Heroine’s Bookshelf just might inspire a few teen girls to put down their copy of Twlight and pick up Gone With The Wind!