Erin Blakemore’s debut book chronicles the most important heroines of the literary canon as well as their authoresses. Beginning with the life stories of writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Betty Smith, and Harper Lee, Blakemore then transitions to the inspiration behind their most notable protagonists, marking financial hardships, marital woes, and the illnesses that obstructed their respective literary paths.
Blakemore mines these literary figures for inspirational qualities, looking to Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God for faith, Celie in The Color Purple for dignity, and the infamous Claudine in Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette’s Claudine novels for indulgence.
Blakemore applies an autobiographical read of these classic literary giants when analyzing characters like Scarlett O’Hara or Jo March, inviting the reader to study the kernels that gave them such notable fictional females. Louisa May Alcott’s poverty-stricken childhood and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s complex relationship with her daughter are shared in an effort to understand how these experiences may have shaped their work.
Blakemore’s indisputable passion for the literary canon, and more specifically for the women who have helped punctuate it, make this pocket-sized dose of literary criticism a very quick read. Her light-hearted study of the many functions and facets of these classic literary figures evidences a childhood, as well as a womanhood, devoted to understanding literature. Employing a feminist understanding of Mary Lennox and Lizzy Bennet, Blakemore always looks to the circumstances, history, and societal expectations of both heroine and authoress.
What makes The Heroine’s Bookshelf a gem amongst leather-bound tomes, however, is Blakemore’s unassuming narrative; she presents complex literary themes and character analysis in ebullient prose. Much like the fervent notes you might scratch to yourself in a college level English course on women characters, The Heroine’s Bookshelf reads as the diary of an impassioned student rather than the essay you would turn in.
A delight for seasoned readers of classic literature or younger first-timers, The Heroine’s Bookshelf prompts a revisit to favorite novels while encouraging others to tackle what they have not yet read.
To read more about Erin Blakemore, click here.
Tags: Betty Smith, Celie, classic literature, Claudine, Erin Blakemore, female roles, feminist analysis, God, Gone With the Wind, Harper Lee, heroine, identity, Jane Austen, Janie Crawford, Jo March, Laura Ingalls Wilder, literary canon, literary criticism, literary fiction, Little Women, Lizzy Bennet, Louisa May Alcott, marriage, Mary Lennox, motherhood, Scarlett O'Hara, Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette, The Color Purple, The Heroine's Bookshelf, The Secret Garden, Their Eyes Were Watching God, writing, Zora Neale Hurston
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