The historical facts about the lives of the Brontës to tell a fictional story were great. The story of the Brontës is an extremely sad one. First, their Mother dies leaving behind five daughters and a son with a staunchly religious Father. The two eldest daughters, Elizabeth and Maria die of consumption after being away at what was supposed to be a school of opportunities for poorer children. They were sixteen or seventeen upon their deaths.
Later on Branwell, the only son, dies of a combination of alcoholism, laudanum addiction and consumption.
Then Emily dies followed later by Anne, both of consumption.
The deaths of Branwell, Emily and Anne all happened within months of each other.
Charlotte is the only one left beside her father Mr. Brontë. Charlotte marries Arthur Nicholls, her father’s curate, but less than a year into marriage she dies of what is speculated to have been complications from pregnancy.
In fact reading this and remembering the Brontë works I have read I could see the shades of their experiences in their writing. The incidents in Agnes Grey are real events that happened to Anne while she was a governess. Jane Eyre’s terrible time at school are shadows of Charlotte’s time at the school which ultimately killed her sisters Elizabeth and Maria. The Yorkshire moors of Emily’s Wuthering Heights are a reflection of the environment she lived in. One has a greater appreciation for their work when one understands the life they lived.
Jude Morgan does an excellent job of weaving the facts with a good story and while I already knew much of the Brontë’s I learned some more about them through this work. This is a good way for people who may not like biographies to learn about the lives of people they want to know more about. I cannot fault the author with his ability to tell a story because he does it so well.
I had some issues with this book however!
Final Recommendation: Despite my major gripes with this book I would suggest reading it as the storytelling prose which Jude Morgan exhibits is really masterful…if you can get through Morgan’s writing style that is.