Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013 12:30 am by Cristina in ,    No comments
  • We are grateful to Unthank Books for providing with a review copy of this book
  • A. J. Ashworth (editor)
Stories by Elizabeth Baines, Bill Broady, David Constantine, Carys Davies,
Sarah Dobbs, Vanessa Gebbie, Tania Hershman, Zoë King, Rowena Macdonald, Alison Moore,
David Rose, Felicity Skelton and Simon Armitage.
  • Paperback: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Unthank Books (1 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957289731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957289734

It is safe to say, I think, that most Brontë fans have felt for the Brontë birthplace and the lack of interest in it on the part of local authorities. Some of those fans went as far as creating the Brontë Birthplace Trust in the hope of one day finally acquiring the house where the most famous four of the six Brontë siblings were born. They are even planning a year-long exhibition in 2015 to mark the bicentenary of Patrick Brontë, his wife and two children arriving in Thornton.

A. J. Ashworth, member of the Trust, suggested publishing a short story anthology in order to raise funds for the cause and was charged with the mission. And thus Red Room. New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës will hit the shelves come November.

The anthology reads very easily. It's quite a treat for any Brontë to read how the Brontës inspire other. At the back of the book there's background info on each writer as well as background info on each story so that readers can find out about the 'eureka' moment in the minds of the writers. And we honestly feel that there is a story for everyone and no one will finish reading this volume empty-handed.

The featured writers include: Elizabeth Baines, Bill Broady, David Constantine, Carys Davies,
Sarah Dobbs, Vanessa Gebbie, Tania Hershman, Zoë King, Rowena Macdonald, Alison Moore,
David Rose and Felicity Skelton. There’s also a poem by Simon Armitage.

It's hard for us to select a favourite short story. How can you choose between a husband and wife who 'took an Emily apiece [...] she choosing Dickinson, [he] Brontë' or a young woman who 'was prone to taking her cues from Brontë heroines'? What to pick: the epistolary exchange between Jane Eyre and Emma Woodhouse or the debate of Heathcliff versus Sherlock Holmes? Impossible to make up one's mind: a short story which includes first lines from the Brontë novels or a rewritten version of the last chapter of Jane Eyre. And more.

There are all wonderful, imaginative pieces. Reactions at the end of each story vary: the reader will be awed, moved, impressed, haunted or even in tears (both of laughter and sadness). We can't recommend this collection enough. It truly is one of the main releases of the Brontë literary year.

Worthy of mention as well is, of course, the stunning cover designed by Rachael Carver and made to look like one of those crossed letters the Brontës, among countless other letter-writers at the time, wrote.

There will be a series of readings and events in London, Norwich, Bradford, Manchester and Blackburn among others to celebrate the publication of Red Room in November. National press and radio coverage is expected.

None of the writers who have given a story towards the anthology have received a fee and Unthank - the publishing house - will be donating part of the proceeds. There's only you missing - will you consider taking this book home with you, having a cozy time reading it and contributing to a very worthy cause?


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