Et voici la petite interview que Samantha Ellis a gentiment accepté d'accorder à Whoopsy Daisy (les questions ont surtout trait aux sœurs Brontë)
:1- What is the first novel of the Brontë sisters that you have read and which is the one you prefer now?
I think my first Brontë novel was Jane Eyre, but my favourite when I was a teenager was Wuthering Heights. I found Jane a bit boring. wanted to be Cathy Earnshaw—wild, passionate and free—and I wanted a Heathcliff of my own. I didn’t realise that trying to go out with Heathcliff-types in real life would be so damaging and difficult. I wrote my first book How to be a Heroine after an argument with my best friend where she said Cathy was petulant, violent, silly and selfish, and did not have a happy ending, while Jane Eyre was clever, got what she wanted, lived by her principles and didn’t suffer fools. I wondered if she was right and reading the two novels again, I felt that perhaps I had chosen the wrong heroine, and that there was more fire and passion and boldness to Jane than I had realized. And my Brontë heroine journey isn’t over yet... I was in Haworth, reading from How to be a Heroine, when Ann Dinsdale at the Brontë Parsonage showed me Anne Brontë’s last letter. I’d never been that interested in Anne. I’d always thought she was mild, boring, meek, dull and even a bit untalented. I’d believed Charlotte when she said her littlest sister had always been preparing for an early death. But her last letter was full of spirit. Instead of preparing to slip away into oblivion, she was avidly, bravely fighting for more life. I now think my favourite Brontë novel is probably Anne’s second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, about a woman who falls for a sexy, dangerous cad, as all Brontë heroines do, marries him and finds out what it is really like to be stuck with a man like that. He’s an alcoholic, self-destructive, abusive and unfaithful. And she leaves him. It’s extremely refreshing. She escapes with her son and starts a new life as a single mother, living in a ruined house and supporting them both by painting commercial landscapes. She eventually finds new love on her own terms. It’s a wonderful, dark, knotty, startlingly radical novel, and Helen is a fantastic heroine.
2- Have you seen most of the television adaptations and cinema of the novels of the Brontë sisters? What are your favorites? And the ones you like the least?
I love Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights; I thought it captured the strangeness & dark knotty complexity of the novel. It made me feel the way reading the novel feels. I also have a huge affection for the Lawrence Olivier film, even though it takes huge liberties with the text and makes Heathcliff seem like a romantic hero, which he definitely isn’t!
3 - Have you seen To Walk Invisible? What did you think of it ? What did you think of Charlie Murphy's portrayal of Anne? And what did you think of the other actresses?
To Walk Invisible was the Brontë drama I’d been waiting for. Sally Wainwright managed to ignore all the heritage nostalgia and make something as raw and gritty as the Brontës’ lives must have been. I loved how Wainwright took the sisters seriously, and was as interested in their ambition as in their talent. I loved how it rained all the time and the streets were filthy. I loved how violent it was. I know some people felt there was too much Branwell but I thought it was a story that needed to be told: how three sisters responded creatively to the (many, terrifying) challenges of living with a self-destructive man and created heroes and anti-heroes we are still discussing, arguing about and falling for. Oh and I thought Charlie Murphy was an excellent Anne: determined, committed to realism, passionate and intense. My only tiny caveat is that I wish Wainwright had given Anne a bit more radical fire.4 - Would you like to see another adaptation of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (the latest adaptation is about 20 years after all)? Would you see a particular actress playing Helen?
I don’t have an actor in mind, but I would love to see it done again. The 1996 miniseries is very good, I think, (and very bold, for example in its depiction of marital rape) but it would be interesting to see another take. 5 - What is the last novel you read and loved? And the last non fiction book ?
I loved Mary McCarthy’s The Group. It’s such a fabulously frank and often satirical, acidic (even bitchy) look at female friendship, and McCarthy’s never afraid of the dark side.
I’ve also just read What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen which is a curious book. It’s not a parenting book, more a beautifully written meditation on motherhood, and a lexicon of all the things mothers do that are unappreciated & hard to pin down in words. Stadlen argues for ignoring the blizzard of advice & finding your own mothering style in collaboration with your child. She also says being uncertain is a good thing, which is a relief to anyone starting out as a mother. 6 - What are your favorite English classics?
I think it would have to be the Brontë novels!
7 - Do you have a new book project? If so, can you give us some details?
Not yet! I have just had a play of mine on in London, called How to Date a Feminist. (More details here: https://www.nickhernbooks.co.uk/Book/1933/How-to-Date-a-Feminist.html).
It’s a romantic comedy about a woman who has always fancied bad boys (and has a bit of a thing for Heathcliff) and meets a feminist man who challenges her to try a different kind of relationship. I’ve also just had a baby so he is my project for now (!).8 - Do you know if there is a chance that one of your books will be translated into French one day?
I would love to be translated into French!
Thank you very much for having me, and asking such lovely questions.