In this blog post series, we’ll feature contributing authors from our new anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. Today we’ll catch up with Rachel Roberts, who lives in West Yorkshire’s Brontë Country.
Contributor Rachel Roberts reads her childhood copy of Little Women (Volume 1, illustrated by Dinah Dryhurts) at Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, England.
What is your favourite scene from Little Women?
Growing up, I was intrigued by Meg’s visit to “Vanity Fair” and her romance with John Brooke, which seemed really grown up and glamorous—Laurie and Jo’s reactions were, however, juvenile and relatable. I love “Under the Umbrella,” which is, like Jo, both romantic and unromantic. Professor Bhaer has returned to Jo’s life during a time of grief and “quarter life crisis,” but I like to think she is saving him in return, leading him away from his ivory tower and hard line on trashy fiction to a home where his best qualities as an educator and nurturer are utilised.
If the March sisters were employed where you work, what would their jobs be?
I work as an administrator for a large housing association (which provides low cost housing and community development). Jo would be a youth worker, helping young people into training, education and employment, the role she eventually chooses for herself in the novel. Meg would be a communications officer, designing web content and written material, because of her talent for beauty on a budget and eye for detail. Beth would be an extra care worker, where she would work diligently for a small number of people, and Amy a manager of some sort, as she is ambitious and eager to have her successes recognised.
Who are some of your other “imaginary heroes” from literature?
I have always loved coming-of-age novels especially ones with idealistic, inept protagonists and the opening line “I was born . . . .” Aidan Chambers’ Postcards from No Man’s Land was probably the novel that affected me the most as a teenager because of its focus on with identity, relationships and social values across different generations.
Having grown up in West Yorkshire, the Brontë sisters are my local heroes. We are currently celebrating the bicentenary of their births. Jane Eyre and Helen Huntingdon (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) are heroes as they resist the conventions of the day by insisting on fairer terms for their relationships.
Rachel Roberts grew up in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. She studied English Literature at Newcastle University and lived for a time in Glasgow, Scotland. She currently lives back in Leeds with her partner and works in housing. Rachel enjoys running and posting online about cross stitch design and dolls.
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