(This one is going to contain spoilers. Sorry, but I have to talk about the ending with someone. Don't worry, I'll warn you when they are coming.)
When I first read the blurb on this book, I thought it sounded great. Set in 1974, thirteen year old Penny lives with her mother in a bed & breakfast set in a picturesque setting in northern Illinois. But, it's not an ordinary B&B...it;s a place where literary heroines go to escape their stories. Past guests have included women like Scarlet O'Hara, Ophelia, Catherine Linton, Madame Bovery, etc. Penny, entering the full throes of puberty, resents the heroines from monopolizing her mother's care and attention. She and her mother fight over how to treat the heroines...Penny wants to warn them of the dangers that lie ahead of them when they return to their stories, while her mother is too afraid to alter the course of the stories and insists on keeping the heroines in the dark. When a Celtic Villan shows up to claim his heroine, he becomes Penny's Hero, leaving the reader to wonder, is penny a Heroine herself?
For literature lovers like me, this seems like a really fun read. Unfortunately, it was just okay. Not too far into the book, Penny's mother commits her to an insane asylum, knowing full well there is nothing wrong with Penny, but wanting to keep her away from the Celtic King roaming their woods. To me, that seemed cruel, implausible and unnecessarily extreme. (Although the way Penny gets out of the loney bin is one of my favorite scenes in the book...)
I also didn't get the periodic references to Nixon and Watergate throughout the story. I felt like it must have been a metaphor for something going on in Penny's life, but I never was able to make the connection. Same with the character of Gretta. I felt like her back-story didn't meet my expectations. I kept waiting for it to come out that she was a literary character as well, but it never happened.
I was equally disappointed by the story of Penny's real father. SPOILER ALERT!!!!!! STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON"T WANT TO KNOW THE END!!!!!!
Heathcliff? Really? Out of all of the heroes in the history of Literature and the mom had to hook up with Heathcliff? I couldn't stand either Heathcliff or Catherine from Wuthering Heights. Both were selfish and mean and completely unsympathetic. Never understood the appeal. I mean, why couldn't have been Mr. Darcy or Rhett Butler or Hamlet? Even Holden Caulfield would have been a better choice. And the scene where the hook up takes place is so rough and unromantic. It left me thinking, "Ewwww...."
So, readers, I want to open the question up to you. Who would be the literary hero that you would hook up if you had the chance?
Overall, I give The Heroines...
Plot - 2 1/2 bookmarks
Character Development - 3 bookmarks
Literary References - 3 1/2 bookmarks (the best part of the story)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Britt McKillip (Penny), Sean Bean (Celtic Villan), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Albie), Anna Kendrick (Deirdre), Julie Benson (Franny Glass)