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The Brontes Went to Woolworths: A Novel (Bloomsbury Group) Paperback – March 2, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Bloomsbury Group
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608190536
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608190539
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'The Brontes Went to Woolworths is about the imagination. It is marvellously successful' A.S Byatt 'The family at its most eccentric and bohemian - a pure concoction of wonderful invention. What an extraordinary meeting I have just had with the Carnes' Dovegreyreader 'Charming and zany' stuckinabook.blogspot 'A wonderful mix between reality and fantasy' aladybugsbooks.blogspot --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Rachel Ferguson was born in 1883 in Hampton Wick. Rachel 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 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 Volunteer Reserve she began writing in earnest.
Working as a journalist at the same time as writing fiction, Rachel Ferguson started out as 'Columbine', drama critic on the Sunday Chronicle. False Goddesses, her first novel, was published in 1923. A second novel The Bröntes Went to Woolworths did not appear until 1931, but its wide acclaim confirmed Rachel Ferguson's position in the public eye. Over the next two decades she wrote extensively and published nine more novels.
Rachel Ferguson lived in Kensington until her death in 1957.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on March 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. G. on May 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Carne sisters, Deirdre, Katrine and Sheil have been making up stories since they were children. Now a journalist, Deirdre and her sisters still can't resist making up these stories, including their talking nursery doll Ironface and their imagined friendship with real Judge Toddington, whom the sisters affectionately call Toddy. The Carne sisters live in a bohemian house with their mother, who likes to join her daughters in their creative game and together, they often tell stories of people whom they never met, pretending to know them intimately. But when Deirdre meets Toddy's real wife one day, the Carne sisters are confronted with reality. Will this event now put an end to their childhood fantasies for ever?

The Brontes Went to Woolworths was such a delightful book and I am so glad that I read it. I must admit that I had some difficulties when I first started reading it. I don't know what it was, but I found it hard to read on at first. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't really know what was real and what was not as I first began reading this book, but once I read a few pages, it got better and I could really enjoy this wonderful book. While reading The Brontes Went to Woolworths, I had to laugh many times, because the Carne sisters and their made-up stories were so hilarious! The characters in this book are all witty, charming and funny and you can't help but adore them. At times, I wished I could accompany the sisters on their journeys and adventures and while I read this book, I thought about how wonderful it must be to have sisters. I only have a brother, so I don't really know how it is to have sisters, but sometimes, I wish I had sisters, because I imagine that it must be great, especially having sisters while growing up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on March 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
As Miss Martin says about the Carne girls, this book is "v. weird." And yet, I loved it. Right from the very first paragraph, you know you're going to be in for quite a ride: "How I loathe that kind of novel which is about a lot of sister. It is usually called They Were Sisters, of Three-Not Out, and one spends one's entire time trying to sort them all, and muttering `Was it Isobel who drank, or Gertie? And which was it who ran away with the gigolo, Any or Pauline? And which of their separated husbands was Lionel, Isobel's or Amy's?'". How can you not continue reading, with an opening like that one? I'm glad to say that the rest of the book is just as witty and funny as that one bit is.

The Brontes Went to Woolworths is told from the point of view of Deirdre, one of the Carne sisters. She's the journalist and novelist; Katrine is the drama school student; and Sheil (not short for Sheila) is still in the schoolroom with her governess, Miss Martin, who thinks the girls very strange. For the girls have a habit of making up stories, about real people they've never met. If they were small children, this wouldn't be unusual... except for the fact that the two eldest are in their twenties. Again, "v. weird." The latest subject of their fantasies is Justice Toddington and his wife Mildred. One day, Deirdre actually meets Mildred at a charity bazaar, and the Toddintons become embroiled in the fantasy. But as always, real life intercepts.

In this book, as a reader (and outsider), you often feel like Miss Martin, who never quite knows what's going on, or what's real and what isn't. The girls frequently make fun of her, but I have to say that I completely empathize with her point of view--I'd get fed up with the Carnes' behavior, too!
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