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Branwell: A Novel of the Bronte Brother Paperback – February 10, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this mannered, tortuous life of Charlotte Brontë's younger brother, Branwell, novelist Martin (Outline of My Lover) offers a tender, tragic portrayal of a doomed artist and homosexual avant la lettre. In Martin's marvelous free and direct telling, Branwell, as the sole son among many daughters (only Charlotte, Emily and Anne survived childhood) is accorded privileges they are not, such as special home schooling by their strict father, curate of provincial Haworth. Branwell also lords over the set of toy soldiers the siblings use in elaborate play wars, creating vast civilizations in poems and plays. The early deaths of their mother and sisters Maria and Elizabeth prove shattering for Branwell, on whose fragile shoulders the great hopes of the house rest. Sent off alone to London to gain admittance to the Royal Academy, he falls continually in his family's esteem, becoming a local drunkard and apprentice to the secretly homosexual freemason society; a last chance at gainful employment, as tutor to a boy in Thorp Green, ends in a scandalous dismissal, and Branwell descends irretrievably into a drug-induced, punishing state of monomania. Though slender, this volume's beautiful declarative sentences are perfectly fitted to this famously imaginative, headstrong family; they bring Branwell Brontë's world to light. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (February 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781933368009
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933368009
  • ASIN: 1933368004
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The historical narrative of the one and only Bronte son, BRANWELL is a grand gesture, Martin's style is so dreamily crafted. The author not only reconstructs the permanent veiling of Branwell's spirit by way of his sisters' fame, but through prose as mesmeric as that found in his previous works, it seems as though Martin personally knows his protagonist, Patrick "Branwell" Bronte, alighting the years between with dexterity unlike any other. Martin is a time traveler and his books well-oiled machines, facilitating insight, enlightening, and grooming audiences for what is yet to come. This novel continues to educate far beyond its first reading.
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I'm so glad to have stumbled upon Douglas Martin! Branwell was a random discovery that turned out to be a great reward. This novel is as strange and darkly exotic as the Brontes were themselves, the madness for writing, shared and overlapping among the siblings, vivid and authentic. Branwell's own suffering, his sexual confusion and isolation, is depicted with tenderness and accuracy by means of Douglas' fastinating manipulation of point of view, tense, and language, as if we are reading a stash of old letters only half-unearthed. I want to read all of Martin's books!
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Format: Paperback
This isn't a straightforward biography of Branwell Bronte, it is much better than that.

Douglas Martin is a poet and this book is a beautiful poetic dream, using the dark, damp, brooding atmosphere of the moors and parsonage to set the scene. Branwell's relationship with his sisters, his involvement with their writings, his drug and alcohol abuse and eventual downfall are all brilliantly portrayed.

Douglas Martin has a deceptively simple style of writing, very easy to read. I don't know of any other author who can convey so much meaning and emotion in so few words. He never tries to give a complete picture, the narrative is fragmentary, and he doesn't draw conclusions. Subtly outlining such issues such as Branwell's sexuality and his sudden dismissal from his post as tutor at Thorp Green, he leaves it to the readers to decide for themselves what actually happened. His extensive knowledge of the Bronte family and their writings comes across clearly.

It's tempting to read the book quickly, but don't do that - you will miss a lot of the subtleties in the text. The more you reread this book, the better it gets - brilliant!
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The writing in this novel, and where the writing takes the reader, is incredibly beautiful. Some books keep you at arms length watching the events. But Douglas's writing is an embodiment. His writing encapsulates the soul of the character. Lyrical, gorgeous writing and its' own experience to read.
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