When Patrick Bronte died in 1861, he was the last surviving member of his immediate family. Outliving his wife and all six of his children, his legacy would have faded into history if not for the extraordinary books of his three youngest daughters.
Though history tells us that Patrick died without any descendants, author Catherine Lowell asks what if someone living today could claim otherwise. In her 2016 book, The Madwoman Upstairs, Samantha Whipple is an American woman raised in Boston who can make this kind of statement. Raised by her late unconventional father after her parent’s divorce, many believe that she has access to a treasure trove of previously unseen materials created by her ancestors. But Samantha has no knowledge of these artifacts and believes them to be fiction. When she enrolls at Oxford University, clues begin to confirm that what Samantha believes to myth is fact. Working with a handsome professor who she gets along with like oil and water, the mystery of her birthright starts to reveal itself.
I loved the first half of the book. There are plenty of Easter eggs to please the most ardent of Bronte fans. I will warn that the reader should go into the novel with at least some knowledge of their life and work. Otherwise many of the details of the plot will go over their heads. The problem is the second half. The unraveling of the truth is not as exciting as it could be. Neither is “romance” between Samantha and her professor. The sisters are known for heart pounding, blood pumping sexuality (Charlotte and Emily to be specific. Anne‘s novels are not as highly charged in that manner). There is no chemistry between the characters, nor do I believe that in their happily ever after.
I apologize for not posting last week. Life got in the way.
*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Every campus has their own BMOC. This person is at the apex of the social hierarchy. If you are seen with this person, your status rises. But this person can also ruin a classmate’s life if they want to.
In Clueless, Elton Tiscia (Jeremy Sisto) is the BMOC. According to Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), he is one of the few boys who it is acceptable for Tai Frasier (the late Brittany Murphy) to go out with. Elton humors Cher by having a picture of Tai in his locker, it is only there because it is Cher he would prefer to be dating. Though he plays the hero when Tai is knocked out by a shoe, Elton is a snob like this literary counterpart, Mr. Elton. When Cher rejects his advances, he deserts her instead taking her home after a party. To make matters worse, Elton starts seeing Amber Mariens (Elisa Donovan) to publicly spite Cher and Tai.
To sum it up: Elton is a first rate asshole. who pretends to be a decent guy. Just because he is a BMOC, he believes that he is entitled to certain things and people. Though he never changes, the people around him do, realizing that Elton is not worth their time.
The idea that our ancestors hid treasure across the world has been a potent idea for generations, sending many on an adventure to find it before someone else does.
The 2004 movie, National Treasure, is based on this concept. Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) comes from a long line of historians and treasure hunters. As a boy, he was told about a treasure that has been hidden since the founding of the United States. According to the legend, there are clues scattered across the country. When his former associate Ian Howe (Sean Bean) betrays him, Ben turns to his partner Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and a reluctant Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). Their goal is to figure out what the clues mean and find whatever it is they are looking for before Ian does.
This is the kind of film that you watch because it is on, but it is merely background noise. I would describe as an almost second rate American version of Indiana Jones. While it is reasonably entertaining, I wouldn’t call it memorable.