The Madwoman Upstairs

Where's this book been?
by Catherine Lowell | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1501124218 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 12/13/2018
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, December 13, 2018
I got this hardcover from an online seller; it's an upcoming selection for my monthly book-group. I found it entertaining, but very, very odd, with mood-swings from ominous-creepy to out-and-out wacky, with heavy doses of the narrator/protagonist's wildly dysfunctional childhood influencing everything she does.

The premise: Samantha is the sole living descendant of the literary Brontë family, and was raised and home-schooled primarily by her father, an avid researcher into the lives and works of his famed ancestors. After his death in a fire, she found herself short on resources and at loose ends - and then she's urged to enroll at Oxford University in the UK to pursue studies in literature. She has to fend off tons of queries from interested parties about the legendary inheritance of the Brontës that she supposedly has sole access to (but, in fact, has no knowledge of at all), and her own fears and limitations make her unwilling to spend much time talking to anyone.

Her room at university is the attic room of a chill old building, a room that her father apparently stayed in and wants her to do the same, via the messages he's left behind. It has no heat, no amenities, only a weird painting on the wall that Samantha hates on sight but isn't allowed to move "because it's on the tour" - yep, she has to put up with periodic visits to her room by tourists curious about the building's past...

The whole thing felt like a mix of scary/threatening weirdness (with some doubt as to how much of the threat was real and how much came from poor Samantha's troubled past) and slapstick comedy along the lines of Austen's Northanger Abbey. Yes, there are lots of nods to the works of the various Brontë sisters, with characters avidly interested in what they think Samantha knows about same; there are also intertwined relationships between all of the handful of characters she meets in the story.

Some insights into the one-student/one-mentor version of higher education, an annoying (to me) romantic subplot that I didn't find necessary or especially believable (though, again, the nod to Northanger Abbey made it a bit more fun - though in a book primarily about the Brontës, the many nods to Austen, Dickinson, Poe, and others (while welcome) seemed out of focus), and a series of increasingly hilarious (in a twisted kind of way) reveals about Samantha, her father, his past connections, and more... it's a bit of a romp, in a bleak-literary kind of way {wry grin}.

Released 1 wk ago (1/12/2019 UTC) at Little Free Library, Green Needles Rd. in Littleton, Massachusetts USA


I left this book in the Little Free Library on this chilly day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

*** Released for the 2019 Clean Start for the New Year release challenge. ***

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