Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 1 Star
I have read some Bronte literature, though not all of it. I liked their writings and even knowing the stories from films beforehand did not stop my liking them. When I saw that there was a book about their younger years and that there was a bit of magic about the story, I thought it would be a very enjoyable book. However, I found it sorely lacking.
The viewpoints change every chapter, one being told by Charlotte, then Branwell, etc. That in and of itself would be fine, but I couldn't see a lot of difference between the personalities on the page. It truly felt like one person writing all the chapters. Without the characterization necessary for such a work, it fell rather flat. I couldn't immerse myself in the story due in part to this, and to another aspect of the plot.
A great deal of this book takes places within a fantasy world that is entirely in the heads of two of the main characters, Charlotte and Branwell. They each have different ideas about how the stories ought to go and you can see that. Charlotte prefers well wrapped up love stories and Branwell craves mischief. As I progressed through the novel, though, I found myself not really caring about the "people" in the book. They weren't real enough to rise up from the page, which is perhaps why the siblings spend so much time in the world of ink.
I can give this novel one star for the premise and the attempt, but I can't honestly recommend it to anyone. There was no life, no enjoyment, that made me want to read through each chapter, anticipating what came next. Without that, it isn't a worthy read.
Browsing Youtube, I came across the band The Birthday Massacre. A great many of their songs have the mood that I thought appropriate to describe this book. The despair that appears in their music, especialy in Pins and Needles, reminded me of how Charlotte felt about her writing. I saw it as, for her, a dream but one that was more nightmare because she didn't see herself as worthy of the destiny that she ultimately had and that her work wasn't as everlasting as it turned out to be.
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