The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden (1958)

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden is a 1958 coming-of-age novel, crackling with suspense, and portraying love and deceit in the Champagne country in France.

“On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages…” is a  memorable line from this engaging novel based on an incident in Godden’s youth.

Taking place in the shabby hotel of Les Oeillets, once gloriously elegant, the four children of the Grey family find themselves alone with the shady eccentrics who run the hotel. Like many of Godden’s novels, The Greengage Summer was adapted into a 1961 British film starring Kenneth More, Jane Asher, and Susannah York. Read More→

The Peacock Spring by Rumer Godden (1976)

A peacock spring by Rumer Godden

The Peacock Spring by Rumer Godden is a 1976 novel by the British-born novelist and memoirist who was raised mainly in India at the height of colonial rule. Margaret Rumer Godden (1907 – 1998) led a life was as dramatic and colorful as the stories she so skillfully wrote.

Inspired by her personal experiences and love for the Indian continent, The Peacock Spring is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel of loss of innocence and coming-of-age from the acclaimed author of Black Narcissus and The River.

Despite Godden’s love for the Indian people and continent, it is certainly time to reconsider literature written from the perspective of British colonialism. However, she doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of wealth and privilege, race and caste in colonial Indian society. As always, her prose is vivid and poetic.

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Jane Austen’s First Attempts at Publishing

Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s talent was recognized early on and taken seriously by her entire family. Her father and brothers played key roles in getting her works published, as it wasn’t considered proper for a woman to do so herself in the early 1800s. This 19th-century view of Jane Austen’s first attempts at publishing illustrates the difficulties of the pursuit.

Austen longed to see her work in print, regardless of whether or not it would gain her fame or fortune — but getting it published was important to her, contrary to the myth about her extreme modesty.

Her father and brothers took it upon themselves to seek publication opportunities for Jane’s first works. It was clear that she didn’t write merely for her own amusement but was deeply invested in having her work published and read. Read More→

bell hooks, Poet, Essayist, & Public Intellectual

Bell hooks, October 2014

In her lifetime of sixty-nine years, bell hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins, September 25, 1952 – December 15, 2021) became internationally recognized and highly acclaimed as a prolific writer, beloved poet, university professor, public intellectual, social activist, and cultural critic.

Her legacy of written work (which included forty books) and her contributions to the public discourse on the intersectionality of race, gender, love, feminism, and capitalism is inestimable.

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale stated, “Her impact extended far beyond the United States; many women from all over the world owe her a great debt.” Read More→

Enigmatic Recluse or Sheltered Genius? A Tribute to Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

While scrolling through social media, it’s not usual for me to stop because a word or words grab my attention, but sometimes I simply had to go back and read the lines that had caught my eye. More often than not, it turned out to be one of Emily Dickinson’s poems.

They’re light in the sense that she tended to use simple, everyday words, often sparingly. Yet, vivid images spring out from them to capture one’s imagination. Or her deep concepts compressed into a few lines oblige one to delve deeper into her poems.

Her verses aren’t pretentious, though she was as well-read as any man of her era. Yet, it seems she didn’t choose grandiose words to impress anyone, especially as most of her poems went unpublished during her lifetime. Read More→

Analysis and plot summary of Persuasion by Jane Austen

Jane Austen Persuasion stamp 2013

Jane Austen by Sarah Fanny Malden (1889) offers a detailed 19th-century view of Jane Austen’s life and works. The following analysis and plot summary of Persuasion focuses on the novel that many have judged to be Austen’s most mature and accomplished work. 

Persuasion, the last novel Austen wrote, and Northanger Abbey, her first completed novel, were both published six months after her death in 1817.

Mrs. Malden said of her sources, “The writer wishes to express her obligations to Lord Brabourne and Mr. C. Austen Leigh for their kind permission to make use of the Memoir and Letters of their gifted relative, which have been her principal authorities for this work.” Read More→

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen—plot summary and analysis

northanger abbey by Jane Austen

The first novel intended for publication by Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey was originally titled Susan. Completed in 1803, it wasn’t published until 1817, the year of the author’s death. This  coming-of-age novel’s heroine, Catherine Morland, at first young and rather naïve, learns the ways of the world in the course of the narrative.

Set in Bath, England, the fashionable resort city where the Austens lived for a time, Jane Austen critiques young women who put too much stock in appearances, wealth, and social acceptance. Catherine values happiness but not at the cost of compromising one’s values and morals. Read More→

Did Little Women’s Jo March Become a Writer After All?

Jo March, the standout sister of Little Women (1868), was the idealized alter ego of her creator, Louisa May Alcottboth were tomboyish, with a bit of a temper. Like Louisa, Jo was completely dedicated to the pursuit of writing and the writer’s life. Or was she?  Certainly, that was her stated ambition in Little Women, in which we witness the birth of her first book. 

I can’t think of another fictional character who inspired generations of real-life aspiring female writers. It’s almost easier to find writers who weren’t at least a little influenced by Jo, than those who were. Because so, so many young wordsmiths wanted to grown up to be like Jo.

Though Jo longed to be a writer more than anything, she also sought a happy medium between achieving independence and finding love, something that was expected of women of her time. That’s why she felt she had to turn down Laurie’s proposal (much to the chagrin of millions of readers). Read More→