Back-to-back Brontë fan-fictions you say? Hell yes, I say! I honestly didn’t plan it this way, but both books were burning holes on my TBR pile and I wanted to read them before I headed out to China.
I really do need to up my game though, I had no idea this (or Jane Steele) were coming out this year. Unlike Jane Steele, this one doesn’t seem to be making as big of a splash. It could be because it’s a debut novel, or it could be because it’s by a smaller publisher, but I couldn’t tell you for sure what it is.
I know I stumbled across The Madwoman Upstairs after I finally got around to reading an article from The Daily Beast titled Life Lessons From the Brontë Sisters (article link). So of course I reached out to the publisher and they kindly sent a review copy*, which once I started reading I blazed through.
After reading Tropic of Capricorn I needed a break from reading anything remotely difficult and this had been on my shelf for quite a while (June 2013) and I figured it was pretty short and murder mysteries are usually a quick read and thankfully it was both quick and interesting.
What really stood out to me was how excellently written and easily flowing the text was. Similar to Blindness and some of Paulo Coehlo’s works (Witch of Portobello Road and The Alchemist) I wonder if it is the translator, this is a different one, or if it is just the beauty of the Spanish/Portuguese language and the translation that results. I wish I would’ve read Martínez before going to Spain because I would’ve looked for one (or more) of his books in Spanish!
If I didn’t know better I’d say one of my good friends from high school (cough *Alexandra* cough) was writing under a pseudonym, “Alexis Hall” – HA! But that aside, I requested a copy of this novella from the publisher as the synopsis (Publisher’s website) caught my attention. I received a copy from the publisher and below is my honest response.
This is the story of Edwin and how he’s finally ready to get over his 10 year relationship which ended, not on bad terms, but on terms that he wasn’t able to comprehend. Having never been in a 10 year relationship (holy shit that’s 1/3 of my life – and Edwin’s!) I can’t really relate, but I can relate to coming out of a relationship not knowing what happened because it ended in a way that didn’t make sense and we apparently both thought and had different feelings on where things were and were going.
After hours and hours of discussions about a personal relationship with someone who experiences bipolar disorder/manic depression and recommending I read this book on multiple occasions, my therapist finally made me take this book with me after an appointment one week and I’m glad she did. I won’t go into that relationship here, as it wouldn’t be appropriate, one day I might write about it on my other blog at some point, but I doubt it, so on to the book.
I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book with how easily accessible it was. I was concerned it was going to be too scientific and not personal enough for me, but I feel it struck an excellent balance between the two. In the last few chapters she goes in-depth into how and why she decided to write the book and one of the big decisions had to do with her personal experience and how it influenced her entire career and research focus and opportunities.
The complete title of this work is The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary and it fully lives up to this title. It is the history of Professor James Murray (the Professor) and Dr. W.C. Minor (the Madman) and their serendipitously linked lives through one of the greatest feats of the English-speaking world.
It’s a fascinating combination of historical novel about the Oxford English Dictionary and Biography of its longest editors (Murray) and greatest contributors (Minor). If there’s one major critique I have is that it often felt like the author purposefully used a ridiculous synonyms when a simple word would suffice. However, with his obsession for lexicography and the OED in particular, it’s not too surprising.