'The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder'
By: Erin Blakemore
Published: Harper; Oct. 2010
Synopsis: An inspiring look at literature's greatest and most enduring female characters --such as Jo March, Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, Laura Ingalls and others --and their authors, who have helped shape the inner lives of generations of women, teasing out universal tenets of strength and survival, and gleaning the wisdom and solace they offer to help women navigate these challenging times and find their inner heroine.
My Take: When I read non-fiction I am not someone who leans towards biographies. I tend to go for memoirs or maybe something on a topic that I am interested in that I want to delve into deeper. When I won this book recently I was excited because it presented itself as summarizing multiple female authors that I love into many mini-bios and coupling them with their lead characters and matching those traits to show how the authors formed the characters they created. This seemed like a book that was right up my alley. And it's true; I devoured it quickly and loved every minute of it!
It's a tiny; little book with a sweet cover but don't let the cover make you think that what is inside is just some demure non-fiction book with some sprinkling throughout history of our favorite female authors. Whatever key facts you wanted to know about your favorites are in here. Well, at least I think they are because I haven't really read any other biographies to know if something was missing! All I know is this is the most digestible compact read I've been introduced to in a long time. Normally, in the past when a biography was given to me I'd get about half way into and just not care any more. These chapters are quick with all of the exciting bits presented to you. Just what I want. You can find the authors you know and love and learn everything you want to know about them.
The great thing about these chapters is that Blakemore ties the authors into their lead characters that made the authors the writers we love. Jane Austen is tied into Elizabeth Bennett, Margaret Mitchell is tied into Scarlett O'Hara and Lee Harper is wrapped up in Scout. She's not saying they are autobiographical, per se, but she is making a case that the traits that made them such wonderful authors and trendsetters as people is what shaped the characters they wrote about and resonated with us. And I am inclined to agree! I found the book chock full of fascinating information and I loved learning more about many of my favorites. Talk about girl power!
The other thing that was wonderful was that at the end of each section, Blakemore let us know that a particular book was good for when you were feeling certain things and also suggested other titles and authors that were complimentary. The only thing in my mind that was missing a photo of each of the authors because I am visual like that but otherwise it was just great. Would make a perfect stocking stuffer for all of the readers in your life!
(This book was a win from BBAW. Thank you to the author for sending it to me!)