Saturday, November 12, 2011

Romancing Miss Bronte

by Juliet Gael

I had planned to expand my reading horizons since I've read so many historic novels lately, but it seems I am trapped in this genre! A friend of mine, with whom I share similar reading tastes, recommended Romancing Miss Bronte, so I took the bait.

Before reading this novel I knew very little of the life of Charlotte Bronte or her family. After reading I feel I have a greater insight into her literary works. Much of her writing is auto-biographical, to the extent that she relied on many of her personal experiences to create characters and themes in her books and poems. The author included several excerpts of Ms. Bronte's correspondence and facts from her travel journals, as well as diaries of close acquaintances when writing this story.

Charlotte lived a dreary, difficult and somewhat tragic life. As a young girl she watched her mother and two older sisters die from tuberculosis. She was forced to abandon formal education in order to care for her father, who was going blind from cataracts, an alcoholic and perhaps schizophrenic brother, and her two younger sisters, while she pined away for a beloved professor. The three sisters together published a collection of poems that fell flat. Soon afterward all three published novels (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey), but only Jane Eyre received accolades. Following this, Charlotte watched as one by one her siblings fell ill and died. More than half of the novel concerns this first part of Charlotte's life; the "romancing" aspect doesn't begin until late in the story, paralleling her life.

I enjoyed learning this information about Miss Bronte's life and thought the author did a good job of maintaining a style appropriate to Bronte's own. Toward the end the story took on a bit more of a romance novel undercurrent than I like, but overall I'd recommend this if you are familiar with the works of the Bronte sisters (and if not, you should become so).

No comments:

Post a Comment