Live Event: Classic Novels, Radical Women
By Angela Paletta
Plumleaf Press @plumleafbooks hosted an Instagram Live Event on 16 November 2021 to launch the publication of the first three novels in the Plumleaf Vintage series. The event featured three contemporary authors, who wrote the introductions to these first three novels: Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society, for Lady Susan, by Jane Austen; Molly Greeley, author of The Clergyman’s Wife, for The Grey Woman, by Elizabeth Gaskell; and Finola Austin, author of Brontë’s Mistress, for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë.
These three bestselling authors discussed the radical women protagonists in these epistolary novels and clearly showed why these classics are still important today. The discussion focused on the values portrayed in these novels, how letters played a key part in telling the stories, and how these are books “to linger over.” These classic novels present controversial topics well ahead of their time, including feminism, marriage, and strong female friendships. Natalie, Molly, and Finola spent the hour-long Instagram Live discussion delving into these details and discussing why these sometimes overlooked classics are important novels in the authors’ repertoires, as Natalie said, and should be a welcome part of a modern reader’s collection.
The consensus among the three authors was that classic novels are relevant today, which, as Molly pointed out, is slightly disheartening due to the fact that many aspects of women’s lives have not improved as much as one would have hoped they would have compared to centuries past. The past can teach us a great deal, and as these three engaging and knowledgeable authors of historical fiction pointed out, these books, and others like them, have many lessons to teach. The authors also discussed what these three books brought to the canon of classic novels and how important it is for classic books to be given the spotlight they deserve. Finola pointed out that Plumleaf Press published Anne Brontë’s novel in its entirety just as Brontë had originally wanted, unlike some other versions, which have been published in an abridged format. At the end of the event, the four winners of the book giveaway contest that ran for a week leading up to the Live Event were announced.
Natalie, Molly, and Finola have a passion for classic novels, which was clear through their enthusiastic and captivating discussion and their answers to the questions posed throughout the event. The authors gave much credit to Plumleaf Press for giving these three classic novels the recognition they rightfully deserve.
Watch the video below.