Rummanah Aasi
  I became a fan of the Bronte sisters when I was in high school. One of my older sisters' favorite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. She kept gushing about this book and told me that I had to read it. I was a freshman in high school at the time. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it like her. When I was a sophomore, I first read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and was blown away. Even though I had to use a dictionary and learned new vocab words while reading the book, I could not put it down. Slowly, Wuthering Heights became my favorite book and I try to read it annually. Now whenever my sister and I discuss books, we keep turning to our endless debate: Which book is better? She leaned towards plain Jane and the aloof Mr. Rochester. While I liked the moody, dark moors, and the misunderstood Heathcliff. Interestingly enough, I don't think either or us read anything by Anne Bronte. I don't think our neglect was intentional. Perhaps we already chose a favorite and stuck to it?
 While reading the Chicago Tribune Book Section by Julia Keller, I came across a title that she recommended to Bronte fans called Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes by Jude Morgan. The novel was to depict the Brontes' life stories. I had previous read a similar book by Morgan who wrote Passions, which tells the tales of the famous Romantics (Byron, Shelly, and Keats) and the women in their lives. I loved Passions and therefore had high expectations for Charlotte and Emily, which were well met.

Description: A fictionalized biographical account of the lives of the Bronte family. From the death of the mother Mia to the death of Charlotte Bronte, who died at the age of 38 and outlived all of her siblings. 

Review: The title of the book is misleading. The novel doesn't focus on the two leading sisters, Charlotte and Emily, but rather the entire family. Branwell, their egocentric brother whom their father, the Rev. Patrick Bronte, doted upon is a complex character. At times I couldn't help but like his charm, but my opinions of him definitely changed by the end. There is also a keen observation of the talented youngest sibling, Anne, who can't help but be in the shadow of her elder sisters. The two eldest sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, both of whom died after falling ill at a nightmarish girl's school, are also included in the tale.
   Charlotte's personality of constantly seeking approval and love is shown quite nicely. Branwell's hubris can be a bit much, but I could see glimpses of the male characters in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in him. I wonder if he inspired his sisters while they were writing. Emily was a fascinating character. She doesn't speak much, but when she does it usually profound. I also really liked strong, but silent Anne. Now I have a desire to read her books too.
  I wasn't aware that there were two older Bronte sisters before Charlotte, so that was a treat to learn about them too. Despite relentless struggles and early deaths, the Bronte sisters are rightfully memorable and celebrated.
Morgan stays pretty close to the real biographical facts of the Bronte family. She deftly shows the struggles of each individual as well as the evolution of great, female writers. Her writing is excellent. The language is extremely descriptive and detailed. When reading the novel, I could totally picture myself at Halworth and observe what is going on, but also know what the characters are feeling.
  So, why the 4.5 stars instead of 5? Well, I thought the pacing was a bit off. The story lagged in the beginning, but quickly picked up in the middle, and I felt the ending was a bit rushed. Overall, a great book that I think all Bronte fans should read.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language in the book. There is also alcohol and drug use too.

If you like this book try: Passions by Jude Morgan or Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael
2 Responses
  1. BookQuoter Says:

    I know I would want to read this. I read Romancing Miss Bronte, and is now very interested in their story. Thanks.

  2. It's a great book, especially if you read "Jane Eyre" or "Wuthering Heights" before. I had a great time making connections to the novels while reading this book. Hope you like the book as much as I did!

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