Stalwart heroines

Anyone interested in messing with the heads of their book group members should suggest The Heroines by Eileen Favorite.

This fanciful debut novel is full of literary humor poked liberally at the dramatic, tragic, soap-operatic heroines of the classics.

Budding teenager Penny The Heroines by Eileen FavoriteEntwhistle is helping her mother, Anne-Marie, operate a home-based bed and breakfast business in a small Illinois town in 1974. Most of the guests are typical tourists, but every once in a while a special guest stumbles out of the woods or the rain and onto the Entwhistle door step. It is a heroine from classic literature seeking temporary respite from her tumultuous story.

Penny’s mother dutifully administers warmth and comfort, but no advice, to the heroines. For the most part, Penny doesn’t mind the demanding, whiny heroines, until the arrival of the most troublesome heroine of all, Deirdre of the Sorrows.

Deirdre is proving to be quite a handful. She is monopolizing all of Anne-Marie’s time and attention and has taken up residence in Penny’s bedroom. In fury, Penny runs to the forbidden woods behind her home and comes face to face with a Hero—or is he a Villain?—determined to steal Deirdre back to their tale.

Penny’s report of King Conor’s presence in the woods behind the bed and breakfast meets with a horrified reaction from her mother and well-meaning protection in the form of a psychiatric ward for hysterical and wayward girls. Now Penny must rely on her own heroic qualities to escape the hospital and summon her own Hero to her rescue.

Book groups can have a lot of fun with this title. Bring in copies of Madame Bovary, Gone With the Wind, Franny and Zooey, The Scarlet Letter and Wuthering Heights for members to peruse when the heroines make their appearance. Or offer a quick literary quiz to members about the demise of all the visiting heroines. Consider discussing the heroic qualities of Penny, Anne-Marie and Gretta, in comparison to the escaped heroines. Don’t forget to ask what happens when well-meaning individuals attempt to meddle in the pre-determined fates of others. For a real treat, listen to the audio.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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