sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 12, 2009

into the stacks: 2009.3
posted by soe 11:09 pm

Remember when I used to write about books on a fairly frequent basis? Remember when I wrote I was going to start writing entries about books individually in an effort to get me back in the habit of reviewing them? And then I stopped writing about them altogether?

Um, yeah. Here’s an effort at starting to catch up. I read this back in January…

The Heroines by Eileen Favorite

From the jacket: “Although a true lover of books, Anne-Marie Entwhistle prefers not to read to her spirited daughter, Penny, especially from the likes of Madame Bovary, Gone with the Wind, or The Scarlet Letter. These novels, devoted to the lives of the Heroines that make them so irresistible, have a way of hitting too close to home — well, to the Homestead actually, where Anne-Marie runs the quaint family-owned bed and breakfast…. Penny and her mother encounter great women from classic works of literature who make the Homestead their destination of choice just as the plots of their tumultuous, unforgettable stories begin to unravel. They appear at all hours of the day and in all manners of distress…. Knowing that to interfere with their stories would cause mayhem in literature, Anne-Marie does her best to make each Heroine feel at home, with a roof over her head and a shoulder to cry on. But when Penny begins to feel overshadowed by her mother’s indulgence of each and every Heroine, havoc ensues and the thirteen-year-old embarks on a her own memorable tale.”

My take: The concept of the story — a 1974 middle-America home set during the hear of the feminist movement where female protagonists from across the realms of literature stop for some rest and relaxation in the home of three women (the Entwhistle mother and daughter and their German-born housekeeper, Gretta) — is a strong one.

Add to that back story, though, the fractious coming of age of a teenage girl, and things start to unravel. Penny runs off into the woods to escape a mother who simultaneously pays too much and not enough attention to her. While there, she encounters a wild, unknown stranger who piques her interest. She knows he’s in search of one of the Heroines. No one quite knows how to reasonably explain that to the police her mother called in her fright — and a hospital visit and incarceration in a mental facility ensue.

Combining these overlapping tales felt awkward and didn’t work for me. While I understand the intent of the author, it felt like the book lost momentum after Anne-Marie allows Penny to be locked up. I’d give this one a pass.

Pages: 233

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