Original date of publication: 2010
My edition: 2010 (Harper Collins)
Why I decided to read: it looked interesting when it was offered on Amazon Vine
How I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, March 2011
The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a series of essays on life lessons to be gotten from classic, well-loved novels. For example, we learn to have a sense of self from Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice; we learn about the importance of happiness from Anne of Green Gables. Each essay is short, only about ten pages or so (and this is physically a small book), and gives at the end of each bullet points for when to read the book and characters from other novels who are similar.
As I’ve said, each chapter is short, and there’s not a lot of character analysis (probably purposeful, if the author wanted to only focus on one virtue for each character). The novels are all well known, and the author assumes that her reader has read all of them (personally I’m 10 for 12; The Secret Garden and the Claudine novels are the exceptions). The author’s writing style is engaging and precise, and she gets to her point pretty quickly.
At certain points, however, the lessons to be learned are over-simplified. I also wish that the author had written more about her experience reading these books and how they affected her. However, I liked how the author tied each novel back into the authors of these books. And this book did inspire me to revisit some of my old favorites—currently I’m re-reading Anne of Green Gables, forgotten on my bookshelf for years. You won’t find any literary or in-depth analysis here, but this is a fun book that takes a look at some old classics. It’s a quick read, too; I finished it in only a couple of hours.