Thursday, 25 February 2016

Book review: The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell


Think you know all about Charlotte, Emily and Anne? Think again.

Samantha Whipple - a young American woman - is the last remaining descendant of the famous Brontë family, of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre fame. After losing her father, a brilliant author in his own right, Samantha travels to Oxford in search of a mysterious family inheritance, described to her only as 'The Warnings of Experience'.

While at Oxford, Samantha studies under Dr J. Timothy Orville III, a disarmingly handsome tutor who seems nothing but annoyed by her family heritage. With Orville as her tempestuous sidekick, Samantha sets out on a mission to piece together her family's history - which, it turns out, could also be literature's greatest buried secret.

A witty modern love story that draws from the enduringly popular classics.

My opinion.
The Madwoman Upstairs is unlike anything I've read before. There was something about it that made it near impossible to put down.
It's a thought-provoking novel that made me take a moment to consider what it means to me to be a reader - what it is that I look for in a story and why some books speak to me more than others. This book may have changed the way I read and appreciate books and authors for ever. It somehow intensified my love for books and reading, and it makes me want to revisit some of the classics - both those I've read and those I haven't.
Even though a very significant part of the book is devoted to literary discussions and theories, it was still very much Samantha's story. Catherine Lowell found a perfect balance here.
I don't know much about literary studies and I only read two Brontë novels so far, but that didn't stop me from being captivated by this novel from the first chapter on. Its characters and the subdued story-line had me enthralled until the very last page.
It may not be to everyone's taste, but I'm impressed by this - at least to me - unique story and I'm stunned that this was Catherine Lowell's debut novel. I loved every minute of this reading experience. Stunning!
My only 'regret' is that I read it as an eBook, and I simply have to have this book in print. *adds to wishlist*



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