[PDF / Epub] ☉ The Brontës Went to Woolworths By Rachel Ferguson – Transportjobsite.co.uk


  • Paperback
  • 188 pages
  • The Brontës Went to Woolworths
  • Rachel Ferguson
  • English
  • 24 August 2019
  • 9781608190539

10 thoughts on “The Brontës Went to Woolworths

  1. says:

    Three years ago I was proposed to I couldn t accept the man, much as I liked him, because I was in love with Sherlock Holmes For Holmes and his personality and brain I had a force of feeling which, for the time, converted living men to shadows I m through with Holmes now, but I often think he and I could have hit it off wonderfully well in Baker Street, as I am not at all demanding, and rather love old clothes and armchairs, and silence and smoking, and dispassionate flights of pure reason Deirdre Carne, barely pausing for breath, recounts the story of life with her eccentric family sister Katrine aiming at a career on the stage, young Sheil in the charge of careworn governess Miss Martin, and their long suffering mother Deirdre wants to be a novelist, building on her rich fantasy world, one punctuated by long conversations over the dinner table with Ironface the long lost doll, Creillie their cockney terrier and Toddington the judge who s stepped out of the pages of Who s Who to substitute for their dead father A life spent in the company of books has made the real world recede in favour of imagined realms, particularly useful when Deirdre s novel s rejected and Katrine s career prospects look shaky but then reality starts to make a comeback Depending on your mood and tastes this will either be a charming, quirky read or a deeply cloying annoyance I wasn t always sure what to make of this whimsical novel, first published in 1931, but found myself warming to it as the story unfolded The early sections are hard to follow at times, I wasn t totally sure who was real and who imagined in the Carne s household, but as the scenario started to come into focus things improved The character of Deirdre shares a number of traits with other fictional heroines, Pompey from Novel on Yellow Paper, Cassandra from I Capture the Castle although the narrative s not as well realised as in either of those books But overall it s a decent read, the sort for curling up with on a quiet afternoon or in bed with a cold, it has just enough substance to engage and just enough plot to intrigue.


  2. says:

    I first ran across this in Lucasta Miller s The Bronte Myth Virago reprinted it a few years back, but it s currently out of print again I was pleased when Powell s emailed me that they had a copy The three Carne girls live with their mother and the youngest girl s governess, in a London house inhabited by the people of their imagination, real people whom the family have made up stories about and turned into imaginary friends When Deirdre, the eldest, meets one of these imaginary friends in real life, and the Brontes appear during a s ance, the Carnes have to figure out how to reconcile their fantasy life with reality This is a very quirky but entirely fascinating book, and worth the trouble of seeking out.


  3. says:

    This was an extraordinary book But first the bad news The language is archaic, the context dated, and the modern reader even one well versed in the mode and general attitudes of England in the 1920s will find that the text often verges on the unintelligible Take this passage We have missed keeping Hallowe en for years, since we left Hampton Wick, where we had parties on every imaginable anniversary, and having no proper garden now has made a difference, especially in the matter of guys on the fifth, which were what we called the specialite de maison, and famous all over the village for their size and drama What Or take the mention of nostalgia over bitter gelatine on crackers, or some kind of explosive called starlights , or the entire practice of table turning and then add to that a host of deprecated slang, character in jokes, a half unreliable narrator, and an author whose style tends to allude rather than to tell and well, you have a book that can be mighty hard to understand at times.However, if you have read a bit of Nancy Mitford or Stella Gibbons, a bit of Noel Coward or Evelyn Waugh and if you have a general understanding of what England was like roughly 1880 to 1930, well then you can probably muddle through it as I did Although to be honest I think I might have given up on it eight years ago when I was American and less knowledgeable about the era.If, though, you can wade through the language, and if you like books that veer a bit off the trimmed path, then the initial shock is definitely worth it because this is a special book The plot is a a little hard to summarise, but roughly it goes something like this The Carnes, a middle class family of four women a mother, two adult daughters and their young sister live together in London in the 1920s after their father has died a decade or so before While on the surface normal, the family lives and breathes a strange atmosphere of shared imagination, verging on delusion, in which they imagine that people they have seen or met briefly are an intimate part of their everyday lives Thus, a pierrot french clown they saw at the seaside once becomes a daily imagined fixture at the dinner table and together they create every detail of his mundane life from the wavering attitudes of his wife and daughters, to his favourite foods, and the detailed relationships he has with their other characters , which include a french doll named Ironface, their dog who is also the Pope, and a judge they encountered once named Toddington Toddy and his wife These characters are not just a whimsical pastime, but are integral to the Carnes shared family psyche It is implied that the game stems in part from their collective need for a missing father figure however, much of it seems to spring from an almost violent need to create, and to be involved in an act of shared imagination, as a form of love The ghosts of the Bronte sisters also feature in the story, although somewhat later on and there is a strong vein of Bronte references throughout the book The reason being that the Brontes also created collective imaginary worlds as a kind of family bonding The problem with this, of course, is that there is a deep current of danger in this game, because the Carnes imaginings are not fantastical the creatures they create are important to them because they are based on real people and made to be alive with fastidious detail, to make each character as mundane and comfortable as possible, and thus as lovable as a real person And so the line between reality and saga , as they call it, becomes blurred to the point of, by the climax of the story, real fear and almost psychotic delusion.However, this is not a genre novel and not really a serious one either it s meant to be light hearted and the plot, in which the real flesh and blood version of one of their imagined characters Toddy and his wife become a real life fixture of the Carnes lives, serves as a means of romantic comic relief than as a psychological study That said, there are a lot of interesting things explored in what is essentially a slender volume about identity Toddy begins to take on the characteristics of his imagined counterpart because he has never imagined himself in such detail , good and bad imagination the governess who is generally treated as quite commonplace writes letters to herself from the man she hopes will propose to her , and class the Carnes prove themselves to be snobs, rejecting in real life characters they love in the game.And anyway, there really isn t another book quite like this I wavered about whether to give it five stars because the language makes for a bumpy ride sometimes, but when all is said and done it s the kind of book the lodges deep in your memory and sets up house The first thing I did when I finished it was turn back to page 1 to start the experience again, which is always the sign of a five star book Also A.S Byatt also writes a great introduction to the Virago Modern Classics version apparently she is also a fan.


  4. says:

    Sorry, Ms Ferguson, I am not your fan This particular book was quite complicated for me Almost everything flew over my head the story, the humour, the characters, the dialogues especially those in French , etc, etc It was a traumatised experience.


  5. says:

    Reason for Reading I ve heard much praising of this book over the years And lamenting as it seems it was a Virago Classic at one time but went out of print I ve always wanted to read it since I enjoy early 20th century literature.Summary The Carnes, three daughters and a mother since the father died, are not a well to do family but they get by and do employ a governess for the youngest, while the two elder are both in their early twenties Katrine is an aspiring actress attending Dramatic School and Deirdre is a working journalist who works on her book at home The family has invented a whole passel of imaginary friends often based on real life people and guests who have become a part of their daily lives They ve invented complete fairy tales around these subjects and live quite an extraordinary and romantic life through them When mother must go sit as a backup for jury duty they add Judge Toddington to their assemblage, calling him Toddy, and his wife and staff But one day Deirdre is sent to cover a charity bazaar at which she meets the real Lady Toddington and is invited to her home for tea.Comments This really is quite some book First I ll admit that as it starts off I found myself very confused as to who was real and who was imaginary and just what the heck was going on It all seemed rather strange to have twenty year olds living an imaginary life and I wondered what I had got myself into reading Little by little over the first several chapters the method of the madness is revealed and everyone is sorted out for the reader The governess, recently hired, is a drop of reason for the reader as she writes to her sister of the weird family and weird goings on Eventually, the sisters characters emerge and one is smitten with them and truly engaged with the farcical goings on Once the Toddington s the real ones appear on the scene the tone of the book takes a new direction and while the imaginations continue to be farcical they also become a catharsis which I can t really talk about any as it would give away what happens And just how the Brontes figure into things not to mention ending up at Woolworths I m not going to tell though I will mention one word seance.Truly a joy to read The second half of the book is by far the better half and I was so taken with Toddy Sir Toddington and the narrator of the book Deirdre A delight to read and at less than 200 pages a quick one at that This is certainly something very different than what is written nowadays and I recommend for those looking for a trip back to the Bohemian British thirties.


  6. says:

    This novel I found enjoyable and confusing in equal measure I read this in an old Virago VMC edition the jacket of which does not contain such a fulsome synopsis like that which is available on In this way the reader is allowed to be confused at the beginning sorting out what is real and what is not and seeing as some of the characters have trouble with this it does get puzzling This I am sure was the original intention of the author and it does make it fun This mix of fantasy and reality is utterly mad, and very charming.The Carne sisters, and their mother live a fantasy life in the midst of their real existence Katrine is an aspiring actress, Diedre a journalist, their eleven year old sister Sheil is in the rather pitiful control of troubled governess, Miss Martin who is driven rather mad herself by the stories and make believe The women s lives are enhanced by their friends , some imagined like Ironface the doll, some real people whom they ve never met and yet they know all about them, what they do, what they eat, what they say etc When Diedre meets the real life Lady Mildred and Toddy the objects of the Carne s Saga reality and make believe begin to merge This is a delightful read, quirky and a little bonkers.


  7. says:

    The Carne family lives a blurry line between reality and fantasy It s blurry to the beginning reader, anyway To the family members, it s often delicious, sometimes obsessive, and occasionally frightening My enjoyment and appreciation for the book snuck up on me and what I thought would be a quirky little read, turned into much Ferguson gave me lots to think about re imagination and what makes something real I got this from the library, but I think I m going to need my own copy so that I can re visit the sharp comments and dialogue And the Toddingtons The scenes with Toddy and Lady Mildred are all pleasure This is not a Persephone book, but Ferguson is a Persephone author Plus, Jane Brocket celebrity Persephone reader is a great fan of it I think I was mistaken about this Brocket may very well like it, but I think I got her confused with another blogger I m now considering buying the Persephone copy of Ferguson s ALAS, POOR LADY, because it deals with governesses from a different perspective.


  8. says:

    An adorable little book As an only child who actively imagined social lives with toys and tv show characters, this book gained a special place for being about a family that collectively imagined such things And written in a beautiful style A lovely book, written about nothing in particular, to make you forget how troubling the world can be today.


  9. says:

    This is quite simply one of the strangest books I ve ever read One of those books you finish and then head back to the beginning to check out all those things you missed the first time through And while I didn t actually dislike the book and I certainly applaud Bloomsbury for bringing back these early 20th century works , finishing it was a struggle at times.The story is, in part, narrated by Deirdre Carne, one of three sisters living with their widowed mother in 1930s London Deirdre is a journalist working on her first novel, Katrine is an aspiring actress, and the youngest, Sheil, is still at home being looked after by her governess Miss Agatha Martin my favorite character The girls, led by Deirdre and Mrs Carne, have invented an intricate fantasy life to amuse themselves, which includes many imaginary friends some of them based on real life characters One of these fantasy objects of desire is high court Judge Herbert Toddington the Carne women refer to him affectionately as Toddy and create a lavish make believe story around him Then one day Deirdre is introduced to Toddy s living and breathing real wife at a charity bazaar, and this new relationship leads to complications as the real world and the imaginary one collide Those other sisters, the Bronte girls, do figure in the story as well, in a very shadowy fashion I did enjoy that part of the book, and wished they could have stayed around a little longer Similarly, I would have been grateful for a little time spent with Miss Martin, the governess she provided a bit of welcome relief from all that frenzied whimsy and fabrication I believe the reader s enjoyment of the book is probably completely tied up with whether or not you succumb to the supposed charm of the narrator and her seemingly deranged family I guess I wasn t charmed, or at least not enough Just like many other readers, I spent the first half of the book trying to decide what was real and what wasn t, before I finally realized that question wasn t getting me anywhere Once I got that reality fantasy problem out of the way, I actually had some fun with the second half of the book And although I never really warmed to the story or its major characters, I was impressed with Ferguson s ability to create a unique world of her own and people it with characters who feel and sound like they belong there, even though they might also be annoyingly silly According to the information on the back of the book, The Brontes Went to Woolworths was her second novel, after which she wrote nine before she died in 1957 I think those other novels are worth seeking out.Note My copy of this book was provided by the publisher, through Library Thing s Early Reviewer program.


  10. says:

    I devoured this novel in about 36 hrs due to yet another sleepless night At first I was sort of WTF is this due to Dierdre s choppy internal narration, but once you get into the family dynamic of inventing friendships with public figures major or minor, fictional or real it begins to make sense, in a weird sort of way especially if like the Carne girls and their mother and this reader you grew up lonely and set apart from those around you What child hasn t found imaginary playmates in books or TV shows to talk to when alone And aren t some of those the best conversations The fun really starts when some of their imaginary friends impinge on their real lives but I must say the paranormal Bronte thread doesn t really fit What was the deal with the encounter with the governess What was the POINT of the paranormal bit And why would you want to make friends with someone who hits your dog I felt that there was a little backstory missing there, though of course as we know table turning ie ouija , seances and all forms of occultic messing about were very popular in those days.That said, it is refreshing to read a novel set in the 20s and 30s that was actually written then Of course, the language and activities are spot on Period fiction writers please take note It s light, entertaining and a good read The title grabbed my attention and made me curious, and I could forgive the plotholes for these lines alone A woman at one of my mother s parties once said to me, Do you like reading which smote us all to silence, for how could one tell her that books are like having a bath or sleeping or eating bread absolute necessities which one never thinks of in terms of appreciation.Indeed.I want alas, where I live, there isn t any .


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About the Author: Rachel Ferguson

Rachel Ferguson was educated privately, before being sent to finishing school in Italy She flaunted her traditional upbringing to become a vigorous campaigner for women s rights and member of the WSPU.In 1911 Rachel Ferguson became a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art She enjoyed a brief though varied career on the stage, cut short by the First World War After service in the Women s V