Brolliology Review 

Synopsis from Melville House:

Humans have been making, using, perfecting, and decorating umbrellas for millennia — holding them over the heads of rulers, signalling class distinctions, and exploring their full imaginative potential in folk tales and novels.

In the spirit of the best literary gift books, Brolliology is a beautifully designed and illustrated tour through literature and history. It surprises us with the crucial role that the oft-overlooked umbrella has played over centuries — and not just in keeping us dry. Marion Rankine elevates the umbrella to its rightful place as an object worthy of philosophical inquiry.

As Rankine points out, many others have tried. Derrida sought to find the meaning (or lack thereof) behind an umbrella mentioned in Nietzsche’s notes, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote essays on the handy object, and Dickens used umbrellas as a narrative device for just about everything. She tackles the gender, class, and social connotations of carrying an umbrella and helps us realize our deep connection to this most forgettable everyday object — which we only think of when we don’t have one.

About: Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature is a nonfiction written by Marion Rankine. It was recently published on 11/7/17 by Melville House, hardcover, 157 pages. The genres are nonfiction, history, and reference. According to the publisher’s website, “Melville House is an independent publisher located in Brooklyn, New York. It was founded in 2001 by sculptor Valerie Merians and fiction writer/journalist Dennis Johnson, in order to publish Poetry After 9/11, a book of material culled from Johnson’s groundbreaking MobyLives book blog. Since then, the company has gone on to publish numerous books of fiction and nonfiction. Among its nonfiction has been the bestseller Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. Melville House is also well-known for its fiction, with two Nobel Prize winners on its list: Imre Kertesz and Heinrich Boll.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.

My Experience: I started reading Brolliology on 10/28/17 and finished it on 11/12/17. This book is beautifully put together. The author brings in so many books and their uses of umbrella such as Harry Potter where Hagrid uses the umbrella to threaten Uncle Vernon. Another popular book is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where Mr. Tumnus was using the umbrella to protect himself from the snow. There is the well-known Mary Poppins with her umbrella tucked under her arm. Umbrella is not for rain or sun protection as you may think when mention of an umbrella. It guaranteed character and social standing and it was utilize as fashion in the Victorian era. Men and women carried umbrella to show rank and class. People’s use of umbrella varies across cultures and religion.

In this book, readers will learn how an umbrella has its importance throughout the years and in different part of the world. In China, long ago, only top officials can carry umbrella and different colors distinguish their rank. Common citizens are forbid to carry an umbrella. In India and ancient Greece, umbrella is associated with fertility. Religions such as Christianity where umbrella is held over the pope in procession. In Africa, umbrella are placed over graves. There are different terms for umbrellas: umbrella, brolly, parasol, and canopy. In Victorian era, parasols is used by women to flirt, tease, and attract men’s attention. It softens the women’s features. The increase in demands for umbrella is interesting as well as the alterations and ways a person utilizes it through generations.

This book is very well written. I love the different illustrations in this book. Umbrella is view as another home, a shelter, where a person could feel save. Recently I read a thriller called The Woman in the Window, the main character has a phobia for the open space and she would use an umbrella to give her the feeling of shelter and comfort. I have started noticing umbrella references in books I read, including a book I am currently reading now called The Wicked Deep. It’s definitely interesting how umbrella plays a big part in our lives, not just for protection from the sun and rain but to be in poems and stories. I highly recommend everyone to read this book because the author did a great job compiling different stories and histories into a small package.

Pro: cover, illustrations, history, book references

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

Buy it here for free shipping: Book Depository or Melville House

About the Author:

Marion Rankine is a London-based writer and bookseller. Her work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Overland, and For Books’ Sake, among other places. (Info obtained from Melville House website and illustrations obtained from Edelweiss and photo obtained from Google search).

More Information about Melville House

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***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Melville House for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.


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