Episode 15: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell
The Madwoman Upstairs is the story of 20-year-old Samantha Whipple, the last living descendant of the famous Brontë sisters. Samantha's father, an alcoholic writer who was obsessed with his famous ancestors, died in a fire when Samantha was fifteen; her mother, from whom she is more-or-less estranged, lives in Paris. When the novel begins, Samantha has just enrolled at Oxford University to study literature, where she is housed in a strange, windowless tower that was home to some of Oxford's most notorious eccentrics. For years, Brontë scholars have speculated that Samantha's father possessed a secret array of Brontë artifacts, an inheritance that would now be Samantha's. Though Samantha has no reason to believe this is true, when a copy of Anne Brontë's novel Agnes Grey -- one that had belonged to her father -- mysteriously materializes in her tower, she embarks on a search to uncover and recover her legacy.
Catherine Lowell talks about what it means to give an interview when you've just written a book that rejects the idea that we should care about authorial intent, offers her take on whether you need to read the whole Brontë oeuvre in order to appreciate her book (short answer: no, but why not do it anyway?), and tells us whether she herself believes the happy ending her unreliable narrator offers us