My latest book review for The University of Stirling’s The Gothic Imagination website considers Catherine Spooner’s recently published work, Post-Millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic (Continuum Publishing 2017). This study considers how funny, romantic, and celebratory aspects of the twenty-first century Gothic text have been left unacknowledged by scholars and are therefore under-explored. Spooner uses a clever medley of examples to highlight the connection between Goth subculture and the omnipresence of happy Gothic in contemporary society. While I don’t want to give away too much information about it here, a link to the full review can be found at the bottom of this post. In short, this is a must-read for any academic working within the field of Gothic Studies.
The full review is available here.
Cover art image: Copyright of Continuum Publishing (Bloomsbury Academic).
As I consider book reviews to be a great writing exercise between projects, I try to do them every three months or so. They’re especially useful after the Christmas break when I’ve finished my lecture prep for the coming term and am easing myself back into a proper writing schedule. Here’s a little summary of my latest one as well as a link to the full review.
I’ve spent the last few days reading Gina Wisker’s latest publication, Contemporary Women’s Gothic Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) for The Gothic Imagination. While the general topic of the book is contemporary women’s writing, Wisker divides her discussion into specific categories such as Canadian Gothic, African American Gothic, Domestic Gothic, and Postcolonial Gothic. She focuses on the fiction of Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood, and Toni Morrison as well as many other female authors, and (as always!), her analysis and attention to detail in the chosen narratives is meticulous, compelling, and a pleasure to read.
The full review can be read here.
Cover art image: Copyright of Palgrave Macmillan.
Set in Edwardian England, Alice Thompson’s latest novel centres on the twisted love story of Gothic heroine, Violet, and her new aristocratic husband. The tale opens with the suggestion that Violet bares a strong resemblance to Lord Murray’s dead wife, Rose. In a similar vein to the nameless protagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Violet appears to become figuratively haunted by the ghost of Rose as she settles into her new marital home. And despite the comfort and wealth of her new surroundings, she quickly becomes aware that the house contains secrets of her husband’s past.
She also becomes enamoured with the houses’s library which contains a multitude of collector’s editions. One particular book of fairy tales, which she discovers locked away in a secret safe, becomes an unshakeable obsession and continues to play on her mind as she battles postnatal mental health issues. As the line between reality and her imagination becomes more and more blurred, she finds herself admitted into an asylum where her doctor replaces Lord Murray as the patriarchal figurehead of her masculine world.
When she eventually returns home, she finds her identity further challenged by the presence of a new nanny who seems to excel at her substitute role as wife and mother. As Violet attempts to make things right she begins to witness things that make her fear for her sanity and becomes paranoid of everything and everyone around her. In true Gothic style, the reader is brought on a journey of suspense and uncovered mysteries as Violet tries to make sense of her new reality and become her own saviour.
Evocative of Angela Carter’s early work, I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys the darkness of fairy tales or mystery fictions. For those who may already be familiar with this story and are looking for similar works, I would recommend Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories and, as mentioned above, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.
To summarise, this really is a wonderfully Gothic tale and one that I will be adding to my ‘to-be-reread-for-research-purposes’ pile (yes, I really have one!), as I definitely want to write a paper on it at a later date.
The Book Collector cover art image: Copyright of Salt Publishing.
I write book reviews for the University of Stirling’s The Gothic Imagination website from time to time. They’re a nice little writing exercise to have between bigger projects like articles and chapters, which can take up to a couple of months to complete. And because the lovely folks over at TGI allow me to choose the books, they’re also a great way of keeping up to date with the latest publications in my research area.
While I’m not going to say much about the book here, I would like to just mention that I really enjoyed it, both in terms of its analysis of Gothic texts and its exploration of well-known and not-so-well-known women’s writing. It’s an especially important work for researchers of the Female Gothic as it challenges and expands upon the narrow definition of this sub-genre.
My latest review is on Women’s Ghost Literature in Nineteenth-century Britain by Melissa Edmundson Makala (University of Wales Press), and you can read it here.
Cover art image: Copyright of the University of Wales Press.