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Emily's Ghost: A Novel of the Bronte Sisters Paperback – July 5, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: The Bronte Sisters
  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 Reprint edition (July 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393338487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338485
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Giardina (Saints and Villains) offers Brontë fans a solid biographical novel portraying sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily as different in temperament but in love with the same man, fighting the same illnesses and withdrawing from the same grim realities to write poetry and fiction that express their individual passions. Youngest sister Emily distinguishes herself at age six when, while attending boarding school, she admits to encounters with ghosts. (The punishment doled out by the headmaster does not deter Emily, but it does inspire a well-known scene in Jane Eyre.) Brontë men include brother Branwell, who struggles with addiction; father Patrick, straining to support his family on limited finances; and William Weightman, Patrick's young, flirtatious, social-reforming curate who becomes the key figure as he wins the hearts of the three Brontë girls. Giardina's mid-19th-century England is factually sturdy, while the relationship between Emily and Weightman is nicely nuanced, and the insights and inferences about Emily and Charlotte's relationship are convincingly rendered. You don't have to be a Brontë scholar to appreciate Giardina's novel, but having a little context will greatly increase the payoff. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A captivating novel that pulls at the heartstrings.” (Deseret News)

“Giardina’s Emily lives with the unconventionality and passion that infuses her own Wuthering Heights. Fans of historical romance definitely will want to meet her.” (Library Journal)

“It is impossible to begin and not finish [Emily’s Ghost], and just as impossible to lay it aside afterward and say nothing about it.” (Buffalo News)

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Customer Reviews

It creates a beautifully written novel and love story.
b moore
There is an important question that you must ask yourself when deciding to read this book.
C. Wong
This book was picked as the September read for our book club.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Yorkshire, 1840s. Emily Bronte has given up hope of surviving what appears to be an advance condition of consumption. Yet she remains hopeful through her writing and her somewhat whirlwind relationship with her sister Charlotte and Anne and her wastrel of a brother Branwell. Writing is a big deal for the Brontes, and all sisters have a talent for it. And while Charlotte's stories stem from her days at a strict boarding school, Emily's stems from encountering ghosts. But now, as her health deteriorates, she looks back to her own personal ghosts: her childhood. Her life begins with her unwavering love for her father, to witnessing her brother's growing addiction, and ends with the competition that transpires between the sisters after they all fall for William Weightman, a young and flirtatious curate.

I began this novel with some trepidation. Having read some rather bad or mediocre fictional accounts of famous authors, I was ready to take this one with a grain of salt. However, Emily's Ghost is a beautiful, well written and touching story that centers on relationships and struggles in an accurate description of nineteenth century England. Denise Giardina must be one hell of a scholar and historian -- or at least knows the Brontes' history quite well. Her lyrical style drew me in from the very first page and I couldn't help entering Emily's mind. This is a Victorian gothic story, with the same sort of elements found in Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. The description of the Yorkshire moors is especially breathtaking. Both Emily and Charlotte would've been proud. It does step into the macabre in more than one occasion, but given that this is mainly centered on Emily, it works with the overall theme. So, if you're in the bargain for biographical fiction with some gothic elements, then Emily's Ghost is the way to go. Enjoy.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Giardina immerses her characters, the accomplished Bronte sisters, in the stark northern English countryside of Haworth parish, where they live a meager existence with their father, Patrick, a widowed curate. Emily, Charlotte and the younger Anne seek whatever limited employment is available to them in the mid-19th century. Giardina describes a spare way of life, the sustenance of the soul in the face of want, the rich world of the mind a palliative against a merciless world. A memorable image: little Emily and Charlotte and their two older sisters huddling together for warmth under a thin blanket at a harsh boarding school, the older sisters expiring of consumption soon after. Years later, Charlotte, Emily and Anne are united in their love of literature, Emily comforted by the fanciful characters that people her imagination, Cathy and Heathcliff, Emily's "ghosts".

Oblivious to fate, Charlotte hopes to marry well, Emily not at all. William Wrightman, a young minister, arrives in Haworth to lighten the burden of the elderly curate and a great love story is born, albeit one forced into the shadows by a rigorous and unforgiving society. Wrightman makes an immediate impact on Haworth parish, on the frail Patrick Bronte, who will come to love the new minister as a son, on Charlotte, Emily and Anne, even on the dissipated Bronte heir, Branwell, who, in spite of his many bouts with alcohol and laudanum, becomes a great comfort to Wrightman. By the novel's end, Haworth parish will experience a cholera epidemic, political upheaval and the ministrations of a devoted young minister who unfailingly assists all in the hour of need.

Emily is a woman born too soon, afire with literature and stories, who has great sympathy for the dreary, soulless lives of the common people.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We know very little about the enigmatic Emily Brontë, writer of `Wuthering Heights' and some passionate, brilliant poetry. Emily is one of the three Brontë daughters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) who survived childhood. Together with their widowed father, Patrick, their brother Branwell and their Aunt Branwell they lived in the Yorkshire village of Haworth. Patrick was an Anglican minister appointed to the church of St Michael and All Angels.

I am enough of a Brontë fan to want to read all novels about them. This novel in particular appealed because it centres around Emily: my personal favourite. Ms Giardina has used known historical and biographical details as a foundation for her novel and this makes the characters come alive. The appointment of William Weightman as Patrick Brontë's curate serves as a pivotal point and much of the novel is built around the reaction by each of the sisters to him. It is in this way that we gain the measure of Emily's honest but unconventional independence. William and Emily have a mutual respect for each other which is deeper than physical attraction.

I became caught up in this novel, finding that Ms Giardina's depiction of Emily portrays the same strengths that I would accord her. There are echoes of `Wuthering Heights' in this depiction that I am not entirely comfortable with but they are consistent with what we can imagine of Emily based on her one published novel. Charlotte's meddling, too, is consistent with other reading I have done so I can imagine work of Emily's being altered or destroyed.

This is a well-written historical novel that will appeal to most Brontë fans. Those of us who have enjoyed the Brontë novels and poetry will feel right at home in this setting even if we imagine the detail differently.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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