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Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontë's Paperback – Bargain Price, April 27, 2010

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Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontë's + Becoming Jane Eyre: A Novel (Penguin Original) + The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312642733
  • ASIN: B004P5OPAW
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The haunting Brontës bloom like heather on the rain-drenched moors in this feverish re-creation of the Victorian English family by Morgan (pseudonym for the U.K.'s Tim Wilson), who has mined literary icons like Byron, Keats, and Shelley (Passion) before tackling the sisters. The Brontës of lonely Haworth, a rural town with a mortality rate to rival the worst of London's slums, are daunting as subjects because of their constant struggle to survive. The novel doesn't just focus on Charlotte and Emily, celebrated scribes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but also on Branwell, their egocentric brother whom their father, the Rev. Patrick Brontë, doted upon. Sharp glimpses of the talented youngest sibling, Anne, and elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, both of whom died after falling ill at a nightmarish girl's school, complete the family picture. Branwell's profligate ways can seem excessive, and although coltish Emily remains a blurry conundrum, this memorable ode to the Brontës and their impressive contribution to world literature, despite relentless trials and early deaths (only Charlotte reached 40), is bitterly exquisite. (May)
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From Booklist

Isolated in provincial Haworth, sometimes venturing out into the wider world but always drawn back home out of a sense of duty or disappointment or homesickness, tending to die young, the Brontë sisters lived lives narrowed both by preference and circumstance. How did they produce such astonishing fiction? Morgan (An Accomplished Woman, 2009) cleaves closely to the facts in this fictionalized biography, beginning with mother Maria’s death in 1821 and ending with Charlotte’s death at 38 in 1855, having outlived her five siblings. What emerges is a picture of women who became remarkable artists partly because they found their imaginations far more compelling and rewarding than life outside the parsonage doors. Morgan is a deft enough writer that even readers who are familiar with the biographical details will relish seeing how they are fleshed out here. Since Anne has as much of a presence in the novel as Emily, the title is a bit misleading, but Anne never seems to get out from under her sisters’ shadow. --Mary Ellen Quinn

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S. Chiger on May 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are more novels about the Brontes than there are novels by the Brontes. But this is a worthy addition to the former group. Jude Morgan avoids the wild speculation of some Bronte fiction (Emily was a lesbian! Branwell seduced his male student!) but manages to reimagine some of the tropes so that Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne emerge as complex, believable individuals. (I found his depiction of Emily in particular refreshing.) Perhaps more important, you don't need to know anything about the Brontes or even to have read any of their works to enjoy this book.
The title of the book is misleading, by the way. It focuses on the entire Bronte family, not solely, or even primarily, on the two best-known members. The UK title is The Taste of Sorrow, which is perhaps a bit melodramatic but more in keeping with the tone of the writing.
Why didn't I give this book five stars? Because while Morgan's language is often dazzling, presenting numerous mini epiphanies, at times it's overly mannered, detracting rather than enhancing the story. That minor quibble, though, should not put you off Charlotte and Emily!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Reviewer on June 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having taught Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, I was enthusiastic about reading this impressive novel of the Brontes. It's the best book I've read this year.

The title can be deceiving. The story relates the hard lives of Patrick Bronte, his wife, five daughters and a single son, Branwell.

These characters are so very well drawn, the reader completely empathizes with their little victories and crushing tragedies. The author beautifully and cleverly ties in elements that arise in the published novels of the three literary sisters, Emily, Anne, and Charlotte. The metaphors the author employs are startingly different and yet superbly applicable.

The sense of place--removed, rustic, "wuthering"--provides the reader with the coldness and solitariness of the parsonage in which they lived. The setting to a great extent defines much of the character of the Brontes, some of whose lives become as irregular and bent as the trees and shrubs out on the moors.

As a teacher and as a writer Push Not the RiverI cannot recommend this book more highly.

James Conroyd Martin, Author of PUSH NOT THE RIVER & AGAINST A CRIMSON SKY
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Messersmith VINE VOICE on July 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
The book opens on the evening before their mother dies, just the first in many tragedies that will haunt their lives, causing them to live very much within their imagination. The two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, step into the mothering role only to be sent off to an awful school where they are overcome with illness and come home to die. This leaves Charlotte as the oldest child. The Bronte children grew up poor and as girls they had no dowry so they had to work as governesses and teachers to make their way in the world. The whole family, including the father, had pinned their hopes on Branwell to do something with his life and save the family, and it is pitiful to watch him waste his life away.

Writing was a way of escape for them all. When they were children they invented an imaginary kingdom which Branwell's wooden soldiers took part in and they wrote tiny on little scraps of paper which they sewed together into books. Even when away from home at school or working for other families, they would often continue writing these stories. Unfortunately they lived in a time when writing was seen as unimportant and for a woman to write a novel was considered nonsense at best. Morgan beautifully captures their love of the written word and how dedicated to it they were, even though they knew there was little chance of success from their writing.

This novel will surprise and delight you. It is beautifully written and even though the outcome is well known you'll still want to read to the final word to find out what happens. Morgan's writing draws you in and it brings the Bronte family to life. I highly recommend this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shelley Macmillan on June 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Those who love the Bronte sisters love the beauty and creativity of their writting. Jude Morgan had captured the flights of fancy that swirlred in Charlotte and Emily's mind to create a book that lets you follow not only the events in Charlotte and Emily's lives, but also the way they interpreted them. From the dreary and stilting prospect of girls in their position-- daughters of a church curate of small means who had few choises in life, torn from their beloved home and family by deaths and a harsh school system, we follow the imagination that allowed them to survive and develop into the writters we love today. Although somtimes challenging to follow, Mr Morgan weaves a story seen though the eyes of the Bronte sisters that blends the facinating events of their lives with the imagination that saves their spirits. As the reader realizes that, at times, he does not know what is fact and what is fiction- one realizes that this is the very layering that forged the genius that is the Brontes.
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Format: Paperback
First, a word about the title: Why? Why do they call these books different things in different countries? And why did they leave poor Anne off of the title in The United States? Sigh, poor Anne.

I believe that this is the first Morgan book I've ever read. I do think that if I'd have read any of his other work I would have rushed out to find the rest immediately. This book was excellent.

Oh that Brontë family! The awful boarding school, the spoiled drunken brother, the deaths of such young sisters...the tragedies never ended for them. Only Charlotte lived to be 40, and she outlived her 5 siblings by years. Were the novels they ended up publishing to be expected because of their bleak lives? Or is it a miracle that they were able to write at all?

Keep in mind that this is a work of fiction, but it did bring the Brontë family to life for me. I enjoyed this very, very much and would recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction or in the lives of the Brontë sisters.

Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader
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