This book had such a delightful premise- a young girl growing up in a bed-and-breakfast occasionally frequented by literature's most beloved heroines- that its meandering and inexplicable plot line was even more of a disappointment.
The best parts are the observations of young Penny on the heroines that come to stay; as she plays dolls with Pearl Prynne, watches Madame Bovary mope and tries not to get in the way of the tempramental Scarlett O'Hara. But far too little of the plot is dedicated to the actual heroines.
Instead we are given an upsetting and overlong detour to a teen psychiatric ward where Penny's mother unfairly consigns her. Penny's infatuation with the mercurial hero in pursuit of the most recent escaped heroine is a charming and well-written case of a teenage crush, but offers no resolution or revelations in Penny's life. The storyline of the fictional hero and heroine sets off the action, but is too hastily tied up and shoved off-stage to make way for the tepid conclusion.
And the ultimate twist ending that attempts to pose the question "Is Penny herself a heroine? What makes a heroine?" is bizarre and unsatisfying. The relationship between Penny and her mother miraculously fixes itself, and everyone lives happily ever after, except Madame Bovary, Scarlett, Blanche DuBois, Lady Chatterly, Anna Karenina........
The whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking that I was missing something. There is something here that I'm not seeing. Well, there was, but it wasn't what I was expecting, which is what kept me reading even though it was a little too late.
13 year old Penny Entwhistle is growing up in a Illinois prairie bed and breakfast with her mother Anne-Marie and housekeeper Gretta This isn't your usually retreat, this is the place that literary heroines such as Emma Bovary, Scarlett O'Hara and Catherine Earnshaw go to regroup when their lives are in distress. They come to Anne-Marie who strengthens them and encourages them back to their lives without interfering with the eventual plots of each story.
Anne-Marie is very strict in her belief that the heroines are not to be told the truth about the outcome of their fates in the book. But then one night a hero appears and thus changes the whole routine. What will have to be sacrificed to make the dangerous man return to his world? What truths will have to be told about the past?
What started out as an interesting plot turned me off when it branched into a sudden trek into Girl, Interrupted. That part which takes up a good portion of the book, just was lost on me. If Favorite had just stuck with the sudden arrivals of the Heroines and their stories it would have been, in my opinion, a much better book. 1/12/08
I was very disappointed in this book, just couldn't get 'into' it. I actually stopped reading it about 1/4 of the way through and mailed it on.
I read it in an afternoon. I love the way it brought the heroines into the story. It did feel alittle one vapid in some areas where the heroines were concerned, they didnt have the depth I would have liked. BUT most of the ones brought to life are the more tragic sort so it made sense to make them somewhat shallow. I really enjoyed the whole book. I could relate to the teenager emotions and the anger. I wished it was longer when I was done with it so thats a good sign. I wanted more.
Okay, I wandered into the realm of 'literature' and got lost.
This book is supposed to offer "a fun take on the impact literature can have on our lives." Wow, how fun and confusing, and seemingly pointless can such an impact on my life be?
The 'story-teller' in the story is a 13 year old girl who lives with a mother in a B&B they run with a German housekeeper. Anne-Marie is the mother and Penny is the 13 year old daughter. Apparently Anne-Marie has been 'visited' literally by heroines from well-known literary books since childhood. Penny is upset because she feels her mother loves the heroines more than her. So begins the story.
Honestly, I really tried, but I didn't get it. The way the story is written, it doesn't provide as much 'fun' as it does the belief that someone in this story must be mentally ill. Which does come up in the story. A lot. We spend a great deal of time with Penny in a mental hospital until she is rescued by the king from a rather obscure story. She ended up there only because she tried to tell people about the heroines and her mother's obsession with them. It could happen to anyone, right?
Since the story takes place in the 60's and 70's we may have to just wink and nod in agreement that it is likely the product of, or supposed to be the product of, too much pot.
Whatever inspired this story didn't inspire me and personally I'd like to think that literature doesn't drive one to the funny farm.
I liked the Heroines part of the story but the book took some unexpected turns and at one point I was thinking "ok, let's get back to the Heroines..."
I read this in an mixed teen/adult book club. My son and I both enjoyed it very much. I thought the premise of the book was so refreshing. I was suprised when I went looking for more of the authors books that it was her first book to be published! The main character is very easy to relate to on any age level. The parent teen dynamic is very realistic. If it wasn't for a couple of side comments about political happenings the book could take place in any time period. The book is an easy read but it is very enjoyable. My son has bought the book and let some of his jr high friends borrow it.
very different; rather strange