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Mick Jackson’s last novel, The Widow’s Tale, was narrated by an unnamed woman propelled by bereavement into self-imposed exile in an unfamiliar corner of England. His new book, Yuki chan in Brontë Country, revisits this theme from a different perspective. Yukiko is a Japanese fashion student recently arrived in London to visit her sister, but behind her tourist disguise she hides a bigger purpose. “This whole trip is, in fact, one super-big investigation.” Yuki imagines herself as a psychic detective, and her investigation-cum-pilgrimage is all to try and discover what happened to her mother 10 years earlier in Haworth, home of the Brontës, shortly before she died. (...)Radhika Sanghani explores in The Telegraph the difficulties of non-white people when it comes to finding their peers on mainstream TV:
Though it presents itself as an amateur detective story, the novel is more a series of tangentially related digressions(...) But this episodic structure is ultimately frustrating. It’s only in the last quarter of the book, when Yuki finally discovers real clues about her mother’s visit to Haworth, that the story gains the momentum it has been lacking, towards its quietly moving revelation. You just can’t help wishing that this momentum had been found a little sooner. (Stephanie Merritt)
Non-white people will be familiar with the childhood struggle of searching for relatable role models on TV. Months pass before you find someone with the same skin colour as you and when you eventually hit the jackpot you're struck with a sense of disappointment. They're not the new badass hero - they're the geeky Asian friend, the jokey black kid, the Indian girl with strict parents.(...)The Deccan Herald talks about Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next saga:
But some of us will have done exactly what I did – find role models elsewhere. In the pages of children's novels, where characters were still broadly white. None of my favourite books (Matilda, Famous Five, Sweet Valley Twins) had non-white protagonists, but it didn’t matter.
I would become a whole host of characters in a way I couldn’t on television. I would fly through Narnia, hide behind a curtain as Jane Eyre, dance my way through balls in Jane Austen’s worlds and fight Voldemort with Harry Potter. There were no barriers – gender, age and skin colour were all irrelevant.
For instance, in one of his best-known novels, The Eyre Affair, a villain named Acheron Hades has entered Jane Eyre and kidnapped its protagonist. Using a Prose Portal, our biblio-detective, Thursday Next, jumps into the book, giving chase. Meanwhile, characters from Jane Eyre escape from the book into the real world. (...)Verily Magazine lists several girl-power novels. Including:
In the first book, The Eyre Affair (rejected 76 times before Penguin finally signed him on), Thursday is forced to alter the ending of Jane Eyre! Isn’t the idea that a reader can enter a book, interact with characters and even change the ending irresistible to a book lover? (Pradeep Sebastian)
A Heroine Who Relies on Her Inner Strength: Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëCittà Nuova (Italy) recommends some new books, including the latest edition of Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Brontë:
The Victorian audience of Charlotte Brontë’s day considered Jane Eyre radical. Today, we consider it one of the first feminist novels and a classic coming-of-age story: Jane sets out on a journey and returns a wiser, more mature, and self-assured woman. (...)
She follows her heart and finds fulfillment in the end. Jane reminds even the most independent women that giving and receiving love are entirely worthy purposes. “I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on Earth,” she says.
Because Jane Eyre teaches us that growth comes when we learn to be self-sufficient and step outside of ourselves, she definitely makes the cut of strong females from the classics. (...)
A Heroine who fights for the common good and finds power in persevarance: Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Never underestimate a Cinderella story: Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë’s debut novel, follows the Cinderella model, but it also addresses nineteenth-century issues of social instruction and oppression—all through the example of a heroine who serves the greater good. (...)
Time and again, Agnes overcomes mistreatment by choosing mercy over resentment—and in the end, she’s happier for it. In Agnes Grey, the virtuous life grants happiness and, more importantly, true fulfillment. Put simply, “the best way to enjoy yourself is to do what is right, and hate nobody,” Brontë writes. After all, what good can bitterness do?
With every circumstance that could turn Agnes bitter, she still resolves to better her world. Through her steadfast dedication to the greater good, Agnes reminds us to persevere in our own missions, no matter the challenges we face. Keep it up, ladies! (Mary Claire Lagroue)
Biografie – Elizabeth Gaskell, “La vita di Charlotte Brontë”, Castelvecchi, euro 22,00 – La Gaskell, amica intima della grande narratrice vittoriana e lei stessa scrittrice, con questo testo del 1857, frutto di accurate ricerche in Inghilterra e in Belgio, rappresentò il personaggio nei momenti salienti della sua storia e nel suo ambiente. Seppure privilegiando, anche rispetto al genio letterario, gli aspetti più intimi e personali, seppe ricreare la vitalità e la profondità dell’autrice di Jane Eyre, svelando al lettore i lati meno conosciuti di un carattere tormentato e introverso. (Gianfranco Restelli) (Translation)Cuarto Poder (Spain) misattributes the well-known Wuthering Heights boutade by Dante Gabriel Rosetti: "A fiend of a book – an incredible monster ... The action is laid in hell, – only it seems places and people have English names there" to T.S. Elliot.