Sunday, April 01, 2018

The Independent interviews Michael Stewart, author of Ill Will who tries to contextualise his new Wuthering Heights-inspired  novel:
Writers are known to go to great lengths in the name of research, but few have gone as far as Michael Stewart; 65 miles, on foot, from the moors above Haworth in West Yorkshire to the city of Liverpool on the west coast.
Stewart undertook the three-day journey as part of his bid to understand a literary mystery that has niggled at him for more than two decades… and which now forms the basis of his astonishing novel, Ill Will.
That selfsame journey was carried out on the page at the behest of another writer, more than 170 years ago: Emily Brontë, in her only published novel Wuthering Heights, in which Mr Earnshaw, the master of the titular house up on the wiley, windy moors in Yorkshire’s West Riding, takes himself off to Liverpool… and returns with Heathcliff, who has become one of the most fascinating and instantly recognisable antiheroes in literature. (...)
Stewart found his own Nelly in his mother. Having left school early, she was making up for it while Stewart was young by taking her English O-level at night school in Salford, Greater Manchester, where they lived. And coincidentally enough, at the time of Kate Bush’s hit, she was studying Wuthering Heights.
“Just like Nelly tells the story to Lockwood, my mother told it to me,” says Stewart. “It actually comes across really well as an oral tale. So from a very young age, I knew the story quite well, though I didn’t read it properly myself until my early twenties.”
Stewart moved over the Pennines in 1995 when he enrolled as a mature student at the University of Leeds, and stayed in Yorkshire. For many years he has now lived in the village of Thornton, actually right across the road from the house in which the Brontë sisters were born, before their father, Patrick, took them to Haworth when he took up his job as minister of the village, living in the now-famous parsonage.
Perhaps, like the unique spirit of Cathy, the ghosts of the Brontës were tapping at Stewart’s bedroom window, because the seed of an idea lodged in his mind and refused to be budged. The more prosaic explanation is that the notion was sparked when Stewart read the literary critic John Sutherland’s essay Is Heathcliff A Murderer?, in which the question was posed as to how Heathcliff went from being a humble stableboy brought home from Liverpool by Mr Earnshaw to being, in Sutherland’s words, “a gentleman psychopath”. (...)
Stewart says: “Heathcliff’s ethnicity was never directly addressed in the book, but it is obvious looking back that he was black, and possibly a slave, or the child of slaves. And this was an important time as slavery was becoming frowned upon and there was a growing movement to have it banned. Slavery was rife, even in Yorkshire, and often they were just called ‘servants’ rather than slaves, of course.”
Indeed, it was only in 2013 that the extent to which Britain’s stately homes were bought or built with money directly from the proceeds of the slave trade was revealed; something that for many years most people either didn’t know about or willfully ignored. “Slavery was a well-kept secret for a long time,” says Stewart.
Having borrowed from Emily Brontë for his latest novel – though obviously filling in a huge hole in the original narrative – Stewart is now giving something back to the literary dynasty and their legions of fans who beat a path to Haworth all year round. He is heading up the Brontë Stones initiative, which has secured funding from the Arts Council and Bradford Council to create a walk up on the moors above the sisters’ home village, guided by marker stones commemorating the Emily, Anne and Charlotte, and their wayward brother Branwell. The initiative has been on the drawing board since 2016 and is speeding up towards fruition. (David Barnett)
Beverley Has Read reviews the book.

Entertainment Weekly reviews What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell:
If you absolutely cannot wait for the Mary Poppins sequel Disney is bringing to theaters this December, then go pick up a copy of What a Difference a Duke Makes. It might seem odd, initially, to base a romance novel off a beloved children’s story that contains very little love story in its original format, but Bell has crafted a book with ingenuity and charm that is practically perfect in every way. Mari is an orphan, a Victorian woman of Jane Eyre’s ilk who grew up unaware of her parentage in a harsh, unfeeling school (Bell has also drawn from Charlotte Brontë, transposing Lowood to Underwood, Jane’s friend Helen to Mari’s friend Helene, and naming one of Mari’s charges Adele). Mari comes to London to find the truth of her past and plans to support herself as a governess in the meanwhile. Through a series of unfortunate events and her own quick thinking, Mari ends up acting as governess to the two illegitimate children of Edgar Rochester (again, more Jane Eyre), Duke of Banksford. The only trouble is, she can’t resist the undeniable allure of the Duke while she’s also falling for his unruly, adorable children. (Maureen Lee Lenker)
National Post on the rehabilitation of a traditional farmhouse:
When Crane and Casey first saw the ruined shell of the burnt-out farmhouse, it immediately caught their imaginations. “It reminded me of a Gothic ruin, like Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre,” says Casey. “But there was something about this place,” adds Crane. “A spirit to it. We saw it as an opportunity – much more than just a renovation.” (Martha Uniacke Breen)
The Guardian interviews the actress and novelist Ruth Jones:
Lisa O'Kelly: What kind of reader were you as a child? 
R.J.: We used to go to the library a lot in our home town, Porthcawl, where my sister still lives and still visits the same library. My mum used to encourage us to read, although I wouldn’t say we were particularly bookish. I used to read Enid Blyton – The Secret Seven, The Famous Five and Malory Towers. My mum loved Little Women and I’ve still got the copy she bought me as an Easter present. When I got older, I discovered Thomas Hardy and loved his whole idea of fate. Dickens as well: he was someone I got really into, and Wuthering Heights. Although I read that again when I was 30-ish and it really got on my nerves. I thought it was so hedonistic. I just wanted to bash their heads together and say, “Stop being so bloody selfish”.
15 min (Lithuania) reviews the novel The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.
Naratoriaus balsas romane kiek primena George Eliot (kuris autorei imponuoja labiau nei Brontë ar Austen). Kritikai šį romaną lygina su Wilkie Collins kūriniais. Man stilistika kiek priminė A.Conan Doylio Šerloko Holmso istorijas. Dialogas tarp veikėjų naudojamas nusikaltimams ir detektyvinėms istorijoms atskleisti. (Lina Ožeraitytė)(Translation)
El Confidencial (Spain) talks about classic ocean liners and unashamedly says:
Aquí viajan a menudo familias de madres solas con hijos, que van al encuentro del padre y marido emigrado en años anteriores, porque, como recuerda Anne Brontë en Agnes Grey, “aunque en algunas ocasiones eran familias enteras las que se arriesgaban a empezar una nueva vida en un lugar desconocido, lo más habitual era que emigraran hombres solos, entre otras razones por la dureza del trabajo y de la vida que allí les esperaba”. Su travesía es de puro anhelo de reencuentro, y va al ritmo de los niños: de la piscina al parque infantil. (Translation)
If you don't remember emigration to the US as a topic in Agnes Grey, it's normal. The quote comes from the María José Coperías' 2000 introduction to a Spanish edition of the novel. Kudos to checking your sources.

Books and songs in Cassino Informa:
Continuiamo a toccare le vette della letteratura e ci abbandoniamo completamente all’estasi del sentimento, vorace e distruttivo di Cime Tempestose di Emily Brontë, al quale Kate Bush, con la sua voce magnetica, ha dedicato un brano, Wutering Heights, nel quale canta tutta la potenza ed il dolore del sentimento tra Heatcliff e Catherine, i protagonisti dell’opera distrutti dal loro stesso amore. (Martina Salvatore) (Translation)
Lili Lost in a Book is giving away an ARC copy of Alexa Donne's Brightly Burning + promotional tote bag.


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