Historical Fiction: Romancing Miss Bronte, by Juliet Gael

4.0 out of 5 stars Charlotte Bronte in love

Charlotte Bronte was the only one of her five siblings to marry, though it seems she loved three men in her short lifetime. The title of this book, Romancing Miss Bronte, is something of a misnomer, since this poor woman actually experienced very little in the way of romance. The Bronte sisters who became writers lived with their minister father in the remote moors of Yorkshire, in a bleak stone house on the very edge of a graveyard. To understand the impact of environment upon their lives, it is only necessary to read Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights; these ladies took no poetic license in conveying the essence of the desolation of such a place in the days when transportation options were limited. Juliet Gael does nearly as good a job, not only with environment but also with the characters, as she dramatizes the closeness of their years together. Patrick Bronte, the family’s patriarch, is particularly well represented, and I don’t mind saying that I was surprised at the selfishness with which he treated his daughters, good girls all, and devoted to his well being. Also, it is easy to forget that, until the twentieth century, it was extraordinarily difficult for a woman to find  both a publisher and acceptance from the reading public; what the Brontes wrote was considered daring and shocking, even when it was generally believed that the authors were men. But these three managed to do just that, although, sad to say, neither Emily nor Anne lived to enjoy their success. But, toward the end of her life (which was unforeseen at the time), Charlotte finally found some genuine happiness. Jane Eyre is Charlotte Bronte, and like Jane, Charlotte found the love she so longed for and deserved.

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