The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson

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. Sisters can share intimate details with each other, they can talk about their feelings, emotions and other personal things, because they go through the same changes and make similar experiences while growing up. And that’s why I really loved this book so much! I liked how Rachel Ferguson depicted the Carne sisters and I loved the fact that they have such a special relationship. They care deeply for one another, protect and help each other whenever there is a problem; there’s just such a deep affection between the sisters and they have such a strong bond, which I really admire.

However, the Carne sisters are not the only likeable characters. The book is full of intelligent, amusing and engaging characters. Toddy, his wife Lady Mildred and Deirdre’s mother are just a few of them and you will long to find out more about them with every page you read. While reading The Brontes Went to Woolworths, you will find yourself transported to a London full of creative people who are smart, eccentric and hilarious and you will want to read on forever as you will delight in exploring a different time and place.

Although this book is very amusing, it is sad at the same time, at least that’s what I found. As the story evolves, you will ask yourself why these girls feel the need to make up stories and pretend to know people they have actually never met. Furthermore, you will learn how imagination can help people cope with various things and how it can make such a difference in somebody’s life.

Set in London during the 1930s, The Brontes Went to Woolworths captures a time that is long forgotten and an atmosphere full of charm and warmth. The reason why I love to read books that are written in the past is because they portray a different time, where people behaved in another way and where people had a different view on life.

I loved everything about this wonderful book –its eccentric and clever characters, the dated language, the setting and especially all those funny made-up stories! I highly recommend this book to everyone out there who is interested in Interwar Literature and to everyone who likes to read books set in the past.

‘The Brontes Went to Woolworths is part of THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP, a new library of books from the early twentieth century chosen by readers for readers.’ For more information, please visit Bloomsbury Publishing

Other reviews:

Things Mean A Lot


Note: This review has been written for Nymeth’s 1930s Mini-Challenge.



13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shelley
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 17:23:37

    I never thought of my sisterless state as a reason why I might enjoy the Bronte and even the Austen books.

    Also, I’m writing to make a tardy offering to the 30’s challenge.


  2. Lua
    Apr 27, 2010 @ 19:44:57

    This book sounds like a dream Andreea- the kind of dream you wish you never wake up from 🙂 I love stories about sisters and this one sounds extremely interesting because it’s about a story of sisters telling stories…
    Can’t wait to get my hands on this one, thank you for the wonderful review!


  3. Claire (The Captive Reader)
    Apr 28, 2010 @ 16:02:02

    So glad you enjoyed it. I’ve heard such charming things about this one that I can’t wait to read it myself!


  4. Hannah Stoneham
    Apr 28, 2010 @ 18:27:19

    Thank you for sharing a most inspiring post. i have been meaning to read this for absolutely ages. i have to admit that I was thwarted at first because I got it confused with Barbara Comyns “Our Spoons Came From Woolworths” – thought that they were one and the same and so did not seek it out. I struggle to find a negative review of this book – so thank you for adding to the cheer!
    A pleasure to read your blog


  5. fleurfisher
    Apr 28, 2010 @ 19:47:02

    Sounds perfect. Actually, I’ve had this for a while but I haven’t read it yet because i worry it can’t live up to expectations. But I think Nymeth’s challenge might just give me the push I need!


  6. Nymeth
    Apr 28, 2010 @ 22:19:46

    You’re not the only one who had a little bit of trouble getting into it at first – but I’m SO glad you loved it in the end, Andreea! I think you might like Alas, Poor Lady even more. It’s Victorian! Going all the way from the Victorian era to the 30’s, actually. Enough said, right? 😛


  7. iliana
    Apr 29, 2010 @ 20:05:52

    Great review Andreea! This sounds like the perfect comfort read. I must check out this Bloomsbury press one of these days. Although that may be bad news for my to be read list 🙂


  8. bermudaonion
    May 01, 2010 @ 12:30:29

    It takes me a little while to get used to “dated” language in a book, but once I do, I usually love it. This book sounds like a joy!


  9. Jessica
    May 02, 2010 @ 07:38:43

    Thank you for the review, this is on my endless TBR list, I think I might do the 1030s challenge


  10. diane
    May 06, 2010 @ 01:23:58

    I LOVE the title and sound of this book. I just wish listed it, so a big thanks for blogging about iit.


  11. KAS Quinn
    May 13, 2010 @ 10:35:50

    It’s been twenty years since I’ve read this book, but seeing your review brings it all back – “nature’s gentleman”, the dog in the Serpentine, and I believe a rather sinister Charlotte B towards the end? If you like this imprint from Bloomsbury, do take a look at Persephone Press, a small independent British publisher with books of a similar nature. Have you read “The Making of a Marchioness” by Frances Hodgson Burnett? It’s not a children’s book, and has been reissued by Persephone.


    • Andreea
      May 14, 2010 @ 13:36:18

      Yes, it’s indeed a wonderful novel! And the Brontes do have a sinister appearance in this book.

      I love Persephone Books, in fact, I just finished reading ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ and ‘The Making of a Marchioness’ is on my wish list.


  12. Marie
    May 25, 2010 @ 06:41:32

    Your review makes me feel like reading this novel, once and for all! As a Brontës enthusiast, it’s been year I knew it and thought I would have to read it once, for the title, at least, but I’ve never taken the plunge; now, I’m firmly determined!
    Thank you for this really nice review, I’m looking forward for the others! 🙂


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