debate continues regarding notable females on banknotes I would like to see one of our eminent Victorian novelists represented. Elizabeth Gaskell or George Eliot or a Bronte, maybe.
I read the two contemporary novels on my 'summer' reading list as the rain beat against the window and the wind howled around the house! I know some of my fellow bloggers loved Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs but I had some reservations. I kept turning the pages and Messud writes very well, but I just didn't buy the premise that a mature woman would become besotted with a whole family. Nor was I convinced that the work produced by the artist Sirena would attract the attention it did. However the ending is good. What you can see coming a mile off doesn't happen quite the way you think it will.
Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette was much more my cup of tea. I loved it. It's the story of Bernadette Fox, former brilliant architect married to Elgie who is doing very well at Microsoft and mother to teenager Bee. Impressions of Bernadette are relayed via emails between her neighbour Audrey and her friend Soo-Lin who think she is aloof and anti-social. We know that all is not well with Bernadette from the secret emails she sends to a PA in India who organises her life so that she doesn't have to socialise. We learn that her architectural career came to an abrupt end and she spent many months in hospital with Bee as a baby. A spectacular row with Audrey over some overgrown blackberry bushes precipitates a crisis for Bernadette. There is also first person narration from the sweet-natured and academically gifted Bee.
I do like novels relayed via emails/letters/diary entries and the epistolary form works very well with humour (I'm thinking Diary of a Provincial Lady, obv!) Both the Messud and the Semple are about what happens when a creative artist is stifled. For me, the Semple was by far the best.
George Eliot's Adam Bede is next on my list - I feel a Vic Lit reading project coming on.