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A Girl Walks Into a Book: What the Brontës Taught Me about Life, Love, and Women's Work
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A Girl Walks Into a Book: What the Brontës Taught Me about Life, Love, and Women's Work

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  38 reviews
How many times have you heard readers argue about which is better, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? The works of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne continue to provoke passionate fandom over a century after their deaths. Brontë enthusiasts, as well as those of us who never made it further than those oft-cited classics, will devour Miranda Pennington's delightful literary memoir.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Seal Press
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  111 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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This charming bibliomemoir reflects on Pennington’s two-decade love affair with the work of the Brontë sisters, especially Charlotte. She has read and reread the books (and watched the film adaptations) innumerable times over the years to get her through life’s crises. It’s really clever how she gives side-by-side chronological tours through the Brontës’ biographies and careers and her own life, drawing parallels and noting where she might have been better off if she’d followed in Brontë heroine ...more
Leslie Harrison
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed A Girl Walks Into a Book! Writing about the parallels between her own experiences and those of the Brontës, Pennington has crafted a unique book that is part Brontë family history, part literary analysis, and part memoir. It is unusual for me to find a work of nonfiction that is as quick and engaging as A Girl Walks Into a Book (I read it in just a few days). Pennington is funny. She has a wonderfully witty sense of humor, and she peppers the book with jokes and asides, whet ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
Full disclosure: Miranda's parents and my parents are longtime pals (they came to my brother's wedding!), so while I haven't seen Miranda herself in years, we do know one another, if only once upon a time.

That being said, this book deftly balances memoir and research which is not at all an easy task. I'm a Wuthering Heights gal myself (probably because I don't understand subtlety), but I am absolutely revisiting Jane Eyre as soon as I track down my (unloved) copy. The research in this is top-no
Kathleen Flynn
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bronte-businesss
Memoir is a tricky thing, so personal, that one's reactions to a book cannot fail to be even more personal than with straight-out fiction or a fact-based book. I was irritated by certain sections of this book (The Wuthering Heights chapter, for instance) and enthralled by others (The Villette chapter, the visit to Haworth). At times the connection between the author's life and the guidance provided by various Bronte books seemed spot-on and at other times it seemed a bit of a reach. Over all I a ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book did not have a magnetic pull that drew me in and did not release me. Instead it was like going into a stream and letting yourself be lulled along by the soothing current.

The plot is relatable. As readers we've all had that moment of finding the right book at the right time and it having a lasting impact on us. For Pennington, that book was Jane Eyre. Reading it led her down a Brontë rabbit hole that she shares with us in this biography / autobiography combo. Using the lives and tales
Judi Easley
The eARC of A Girl Walks Into A Book was provided by Seal Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My first response: A madcap whirl of images swirling around in my head of Jane and her dearest Edward, then the author comes on very heavily about the Bronte sisters' brother and his alcoholism and drug use and her own alcohol problems. Here is where she really
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-bio
While my mother is one of those hardcore Jane Eyre lovers, I am not. She used to re-read it every year, and I've lost count of the screen adaptions she has. Whereas I read it once (and watched an adaptation once) and liked it, but I feel no emotional stirring when it's mentioned. The only other work I've read by a Brontë is Emily's poetry, which (unlike the author of this book) I remember adoring.

So with that history, I wasn't sure I was the right fit for this book. But! I have wanted to learn m
Ghost of the Library
A girl walks into a book....just the tittle of this one was enough to make me pick it up at the local library..and what a lovely lovely walk this was!
full review to follow but i must reccomend it to anyone fond of the Bronte Sisters...and not inclined to be offended with her vision of Wuthering
Courtney Stuart
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
At first it’s really not clear if this book is to be counted as a work of fiction or non-fiction. Ultimately it reads like a wonderful story that envelops the Bronte sisters and Pennington in ways that are peculiar and satisfyingly strange. Eventually one must decide that it must come down on the side of non-fiction because so much of it is based on the real lives of both the aforementioned. Pennington turns a quirky personal love life story into a hilarious comparison to all the things that can ...more
Jess Clayton
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so happy I stumbled upon this book! My love for classic British literature began when I read Jane Eyre years ago. I admit I discovered it a bit late, in my thirties. After I read it, and then other classic novels, I really saw what a 'Queen' Charlotte Bronte was. I was amazed at the fact that she didn't let anyone tell her how to live, how to love, or how to write! I picked this book because the subject matter interested me; I had no idea it would be so entertaining!

Miranda Pennington is a
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
As soon as I heard about this premise, I knew I needed to read it. Thankfully, the book not only lived up to the premise but surpassed it, making this a very enjoyable read, despite the fact that my opinions of the Bronte sisters is actually the exact opposite of Pennington's (I love Emily, am interested by Anne, and underwhelmed by Charlotte).

Throughout this book, Pennington draws parallels between her life and the lives of the Bronte heroines, who in turn often reflect the Brontes themselves.
Reading this book was like spending time with a kindred spirit. Pennington uses the Brontes’ books as tools to explore and explain her life. I’ve been reading the Brontes since I was 12, so this book gave me more insight into how these authors shaped my outlook on the world.
Melissa Young
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! It's a smart and engaging interweaving of memoir and narrative Bronte fiction. You don't have to know the Brontes but you'll learn a lot along the author's path. A delightful read!
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book #102 Read in 2018
A Girl Walks into a Book

This author, a writer and professor, loves the Brontes and their writing. Through this love story, she details the ups and downs of her lives and how their writing helped her through the rough spots. This is a book for book lover about the power of literature. I enjoyed it.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I first found Pennington's work on the Toast and have since been an avid follower of her writing. If you are homesick for the Toast, please read this book.

The author's passion for the Brontes is infectious, but no prior knowledge of their work is required to dig in to this book. She makes the somewhat daunting pile of volumes that make up the sisters' work into an accessible and compelling collection, even to those of us who may have poo-pooh'd them in school due to them being
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
As I told Miranda: "Author, I adored it."

Although my friend Rebecca may want to steer clear, as both Miranda and I have contrary opinions on Wuthering Heights! ;-)
Romantic Intentions Quarterly
As a young girl, Pennington (currently a Washington, D.C.-based writer and academic) discovered a kindred literary spirit in Jane Eyre, and she grew up intensively studying the Brontë family and their assorted works. In A Girl Walks Into a Book, she introduces the Brontës after a fashion you’ve probably not encountered before. She demonstrates convincingly that rather than being what you’ve probably heard—fey lonely otherworldly creatures who communed with the howling winds on a desolate moor in ...more
Audrey Adamson
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Girl Walks Into a Book gives a heartfelt look into fandoms and why we bond with characters, stories and creators. With the topic being the Brontes, the book has a "sophistication" that most people do not see with comics, bands, videos games, and current literature. Not only are the Brontes special to the author, it legitimizes "fangirls" to the "intellectual" community.
Pennington walks the readers through her life as well as the life of the Brontes showing the parallels between all four of the
This is an interesting book, although it was not quite what I expected. It is a literary memoir of the author focused around how the Bronte sisters' writing impacted her life and guided her through difficult times. It is written in a fairly informal conversational style, although she does throw in some unfamiliar vocabulary. She describes growing up, her educational and career experiences, as well as a series of romantic relationships, all while weaving in biographical and literary information a ...more
Jill Blevins
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Adorable! This is a book for bookworms. There is a creative non-fiction MFA-type slant to this book that took a little while to get into, juxtaposing Bronte books with the author's life changes, for example, but once you get settled in, it's sweet and tender.

I'm not familiar with any of the Bronte works, although you don't have to read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights to know all you need to know to enjoy the author's obsession. And she is obsessed. And it is glorious. You can't help but enjoy Ch
Girl with her Head in a Book
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
For my full review:

The bibliomemoir is a genre which has been on the rise over the last five years although it has been around a good deal longer.  From Francis Spufford's The Child That Books Built to Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch to Samantha Ellis' How to be a Heroine, the market is rich with books which mingle literary criticism with confessional autobiography.  Every true bookworm is able to point to a book which had a transformative effect an
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
This non-fiction work is the story of a love affair – that of the author with the work of the Brontës. It functions as a biography of the three sisters as well but my favourite parts were her grounding the stories and characters in her real life and how she found that different Brontë books appealed to her at different ages, inspiring and comforting her. Her re-readings of Jane Eyre and finding new things at dif
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
1. I am not sure how Miranda Pennington and I aren't best friends. We lived in the same neighborhoods in Brooklyn, we went to the same restaurants and concert venues and we are both delightfully obsessed with Jane Eyre.

A Girl Walks Into a Book is the memoir/in depth study of the Bronte family. Miranda, much like myself, fell in love with Jane Eyre and Mr Rochchester at an early age and have continued to let it guide us both into adulthood. Pennington does an in-depth analysis of all of the Bront
Amanda Helling
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved A Girl Walks Into A Book. The author has masterfully woven her own story with the lives and works of the Brontës. I connected with this book, particularly with Pennington's opinions of the Brontë novels, more than any memoir I've ever read. I lost count of the times I laughed out loud & the number of times I recognized a passage as my exact thoughts on a book or character or ending (looking at you, Villette). This book is funny, smart, and feels a lot like readers are being given a p ...more
Moray Teale
May 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Full disclosure at the very start. I didn't finish this book which in itself is very unusual. I found the conversational tone and slangy style unbearable (referring to Jane and Rochester's first encounter as a "meet-cute", in unforgivable. Let's just stop using that term altogether) the overabundance of rhetorical questions tedious and the analysis of the text, as well as the influence and parallels of the author's life, superficial. It just was not to my taste at all.

(I received a free advance
I will happily read anything about the Brontes, but found Miranda Pennington's memoir very difficult to get into. It is more about the author herself than the Brontes, and the focus upon her own life made the whole feel quite imbalanced. I also felt as though Pennington tries far too hard to be witty and amusing; had this element been removed, or at least toned down, I imagine that I would have had more patience with it.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely memoir about how one woman found solace and guidance throughout her life through a love of the Brontës and their work. Lots of life lessons, dreams, heart-break, and learning to be an adult who works through difficult situations. Pennington touches on all the books, a number of the adaptations, and even includes a shoutout to the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
I had a conversation recently where both of us were ruing the fact we had never had an overwhelming passion to guide our lives. The curse of being well-balanced, maybe. Pennington has a passion for the Bronte sisters and a knack for making them, and their influence on her life, interesting to the rest of us. Never underestimate the power of the right book at the right time.
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
In this memoir Pennington writes about how her life has been largely influenced by the lives and works of the Bronte's. She correlates experiences she's had with things that have happened to the characters in there books and/or the Bronte's themselves.

I made the mistake of reading "A Girl Walks Into a Book" before I've read any of the Bronte cannon. That was a bit of a bummer because there were major spoilers for some of the more popular works. I blame myself though because it didn't occur to m
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A coming of age memoir from an author who loves the Brontë's as much as I - but knows 10 times more. I brought this book with me to the UK, read that last chapter “Haworth” before my first trip to Haworth, the highlight of my trip! Picked it up again, after the holidays, starting at chapter 1. A must read for Brontë fans. I loved this well researched and heartfelt book very much!

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Miranda K. Pennington is a writer and editor who recently joined the faculty at American University, in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared on Electric Literature, The Toast, The American Scholar Online, the Ploughshares blog, and The Catapult podcast. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction at Columbia University. This is her first book.