Reviews of Foolish Heroines
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If you’re looking for something a little different then I do believe you can find it in June Wentland’s debut novel, Foolish Heroines. It has been described as magic realism but there’s a quirkiness here that might allow the book to fit into the absurdist fiction genre too. Nothing is quite as it seems as we explore the seemingly ‘normal’ surface lives of several women and find that our understanding of normality is challenged in a most delightful and mind expanding way... it’s contemporary yet contains within in it a sense of traditional, almost fairy tale story telling that is refreshing. It often felt like I was experiencing the book rather than merely reading it!
This book made me laugh out loud, feel incredibly emotional and also question myself as a woman and my equality in society...The vivid detail of the settings, particularly Lily's garden/forest was spectacular, I honestly imagined every minute detail written and loved it.
The women in this book are oppressed by men, in some way or another. It’s not until they come out from under that oppression that they find themselves and see the beauty in the world.
This sweet little novel follows a whole host of different women and explores — through whimsy and surrealism — how absurd humanity really is.
What an absolute joy. At times you don’t know what’s real and what’s not and honestly it’s best just to go with it... It’s a story about a normal suburb filled with characters who are wacky, vibrant and brilliant. They are quirky and unique and like I said, you are questioning what is real! It’s warm, it’s uplifting and blurs the lines between dark and hilarious!
Foolish Heroines is a book of surprises. A book where the ordinary and the unexpected come together in a way that challenges, comforts and ultimately extends. The lives of these women are bizarre and vivid yet they also feel completely tangible and surprisingly within everyday reach. This is a story of empowerment, of finding a purpose in places you never thought to look and finding friends you didn’t know you might need. The humour that runs through the book is quirky and vibrant; not many pages go by without raising a smirk, a smile or making you laugh out loud.
Valley press have found a book which champions the cause of women, of creativity and of friends.
If you are up for a winding literary adventure, filled with whimsey, humour, colourful imagery, metaphor, glorious characters and cats… lots of cats… then this warm and touching novel deserves a place in your reading pile.
There’s rather a lot of fairy-tale about this book, and Wentland uses this story device to explore some very deep themes about connection, love, attraction, equality and freedom, in a very similar way to Jeanette Winterson – and like her, there is a particular kind of humour and poignancy that drives the tale along, with a bizarre hint of Terry Pratchett in the mix that works beautifully. I very much enjoyed the quirkiness of the threads of each of the characters, as they go on their separate, but interlinked journeys, and come to rest in a better place at the end.
SILVXR Lifestyle and Entertainment blog @silvxr
From the very first page, I was captured by Wentland's use of language and had to keep a pencil with me whilst reading as I kept on noticing beautiful quotes that stood out to me. I personally found 'Foolish Heroines' to be an empowering read, as the women in the novel found and transformed themselves.
"Oh, how aerodynamic some women would be if only they realised. What low air resistance they'd have. To what heights they'd be able to soar like self-powered frisbees cutting sharply, economically, through the soft bloodless substance of other people's dreams."
Whilst the novel focused on the journey through everyday life, Wentland incorporated plenty of humour which made me laugh out loud but at the same she made sure to provide plenty of food for thought. Additionally, I am truly in awe of the way magical realism has been interweaved with domesticity…
Also, if you love animals, especially cats, then you will love 'Foolish Heroines'! As a cat mum, I was overjoyed with the cats featured and the way Wentland made them part of the storyline…
June Wentland's debut novel is a genuinely uplifting read that uncovers a magical world in one of domesticity…I also want to add that I love when blog tours help me discover new authors and June Wentland is a writer whose work I will certainly look out for in the future!
Rating: 5 stars
Following the stories of Janina, Fatima and more, this is a brilliantly surreal story of how female lives interconnect and influence…I found myself totally drawn into the characters’ narratives, feeling empathy and humour, and a few stops between as I followed their journeys.
This isn’t a book that I’d normally think to settle down with, but once I did I truly loved the telling. Foolish Heroines is a distinct and considered debut novel and Wentland is absolutely an author to watch.
A Little Bit of Happiness blog (@h_elisestewart)
It’s almost like quantum physics distilled into a philosophical story that also involves sisterhood and finding one’s identity. It’s such a dense and nuanced novel, but it’s incredibly engaging and not at all overwhelming. (Can you tell I’m excited about this book?).
Jaffareadstoo book blog @jaffareadstoo
Foolish Heroines took me by surprise, in a good way. It isn't at all what I expected and even reading the blurb I wasn't sure whether the story would be a good fit for me but once I started to read and got into this author's sense of humour I found the story to be quirky and fun but with a deeper message… Foolish Heroines is a difficult book to describe as it's a bit like trying to remember one of those occasions when you wake up in the morning thinking, did I just dream that! So, I won't spoil anything by relating the story except to say that it's surreal, quirky, imaginative and gloriously creative.
Bookmarks and Stages blog @Lou_Bookmarks
Right from the first paragraph, it becomes clear that this is not going to be any ordinary story. It has quite an opener! I won’t say what that entails as it would spoil it for you, but put it this way, Janina, who is one of the main characters has a strange sub-conscious indeed. It makes for a quirky, humorous entertaining story. This is most definitely for people who perhaps want something a bit different to read.
The Northern Bookworm
Like a lovely warm cup of tea, this story takes you on a quirky journey as a number of people - plus mammals, arachnids, reptiles and molluscs - find happiness.
Told from the viewpoint of a number of women who are unhappy with their lives, and often the men in them, this hilarious tale sees each of them re-evaluate their lives, learning both how to appreciate what they have and how they can make subtle changes for the better.
Though initially starting off quite dark...the story often had me laughing out loud as the characters grappled with the events in their lives... I finished this story feeling like I had a number of new friends...Looking forward to reading more wonderfully descriptive and imaginative tales by June in the future.
Foolish Heroines is a story of the magical transformation of an array of characters’ lives, told in language that is lush and lyrical. Don’t imagine you can guess what will happen in this novel: it’s too extraordinary for that. The laws of physics and biology are bent, delicious food is cooked and enjoyed in wonderful settings, and things are generally turned on their head... This combination of characters and events produces a unique and fascinating adventure. I recommend this book to those who want to read a story that is fresh, unexpected, beguiling and unusual. Enjoy.
On Waterstones online
June Wentland has more in common with Flann O Brien than Jane Austen, her flights of imagination often caused me to laugh out loud. I'll never be able to drink Horlicks again without giggling and thinking of Mona Troy. This is a novel that will definitely take you to places far removed from the challenges of present times.
This is great fun, and delightfully thought-provoking. I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t want to finish reading and was sorry when I got to the end.
As someone who doesn't normally read magic realism, I was completely captivated by June Wentland's debut novel. All seems normal when you start reading, but then the magical elements seamlessly slip into the story, making you both raise an eyebrow and remark 'Well, of course!' at the same time...The novel is beautifully written with chapters of a 'just one more...' length that render the book unputdownable. Lyrical throughout, my favourite chapter starts with these delicious lines: ‘The hungry pink mouth of a new day mewed into existence. Kitten soft, it crept over the rooftops like creamy milk from a tipped jug. It trickled into windows, innocently nudging alarm clocks into motion.’
June Wentland’s first novel starts off almost normally… However, it isn’t long before the magic realism seeps in, leading to a not-quite real world … The dialogue is sharp, often hilarious, and the author’s wild imagination means that the reader doesn’t get to sit still for a second! It deals with major life/relationship issues, yet it never loses its signature quirkiness. Occasionally, the author’s word-craft is almost poetical, embellishing the text with little jewels, such as: “only the flowers were active in the heat, frantic, besotted with their own need to propagate...sun-stroked stamen quivered in their dreams of seed and soil”.
Wentland jumping from putting whites in the white wash instead of everything on programme D to - in the next paragraph - musing on whether souls are circular, then, without pause for any sort of breath, straight onto bowler hat-sized cervical caps, aerodynamic women and jumpers gloriously flapping on the washing line. Absolutely amazing - where will this woman jump next? No-one, including, I'm sure, Wentland herself, knows! As a reader, I felt like Fatima, who as a sign painter on a ladder had the urge to step back and see what the letters she had been painting spelt. Just so: what a joy to step off the treadmill ladder of what we call 'normal life', backwards, without looking - and see where we land. That's what this glorious book is about. Take it away, Wentland!
Foolish Heroines is a great read - a fun and quirky story with some lovely characters on serious journeys of self discovery. Like all adventures of discovery the path can be stony and painful,but worth the effort.
June Wentland conjures a tales of transformation full of vivid emotions,colours,shapes and strange encounters.
So sit back and enjoy the roller coaster!
June has created a magical journey full of extraordinary characters. A story full of the delicious quirkiness of relationships and life. Impossible to predict with charming twists and turns, and entertaining to the last page.