Anyone interested in novels that like to mess with classic literature should pick up The Heroines by Eileen Favorite.
This fanciful debut novel is full of literary humor poked liberally at the dramatic, tragic, soap-operatic heroines of the classics.
Budding teenager Penny Entwhistle is helping her mother, Anne-Marie, operate a home-based bed and breakfast business in a small Illinois town in 1974. Most of the guests are typical tourists, but every once in a while a special guest stumbles out of the woods or the rain and onto the Entwhistle door step. It is a heroine from classic literature seeking temporary respite from her tumultuous story.
Penny’s mother dutifully administers warmth and comfort, but no advice, to the heroines. For the most part, Penny doesn’t mind the demanding, whiny heroines, until the arrival of the most troublesome heroine of all, Deirdre of the Sorrows.
Deirdre is proving to be quite a handful. She is monopolizing all of Anne-Marie’s time and attention and has taken up residence in Penny’s bedroom. In fury, Penny runs to the forbidden woods behind her home and comes face to face with a Hero—or is he a Villain?—determined to steal Deirdre back to their tale.
Penny’s report of King Conor’s presence in the woods behind the bed and breakfast meets with a horrified reaction from her mother and well-meaning protection in the form of a psychiatric ward for hysterical and wayward girls. Now Penny must rely on her own heroic qualities to escape the hospital and summon her own Hero to her rescue.
Book groups can have a lot of fun with this title, too. Bring in copies of Madame Bovary, Gone With the Wind, Franny and Zooey, The Scarlet Letter and Wuthering Heights for members to peruse when the heroines make their appearance. Don’t be surprised if you start dipping into classics with a new perspective on the heroines of literature.
About the Author
Kaite Mediatore Stover is the Director of Readers’ Services at the Kansas City Public Library. She is a regular guest on KCUR's Book Doctors segment and moderator of The Kansas City Star’s FYI Book Club. She can tap dance, read tarot cards, and doesn’t bite.