Book Review: The Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore

The Heroine's Bookshelf imageImagine pairing some of your favorite heroines in literary history with their female authors and analyzing both the similarities and differences in their lives. That’s what Erin Blakemore has done in The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, From Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder.

In her introduction, Blakemore talks abut the need to read and find inspiration, especially when times are difficult. She also mentions how she has turned to literary heroines throughout her own life in times of upheaval.

Each chapter highlights a quality, such as Faith, Dignity, and Indulgence, then talks about how a literary heroine displays this quality. Twelve authors and their heroines are covered, including some you may expect, such as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, and others you may not, such as Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.

I was fascinated by the barriers so many women had to bringing their stories to print, and how so many authors that we think of as successful struggled with poverty their entire lives. As such, The Heroine’s Bookshelf is fascinating both as a historical look at women writers as well as literary analysis of the characters they wrote.

It would take some work, but I can see a mother-daughter book club with girls aged 14 and up, or a women’s book club, choosing each of Blakemore’s titles and reading it as a group along with the chapter she writes about it. Even if you’re not in a book club with your daughter, you may find this is a great activity for just the two of you take on together.

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