- File Size: 3941 KB
- Print Length: 334 pages
- Publisher: All Things That Matter Press (November 27, 2017)
- Publication Date: November 27, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B077SJFT4F
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,127 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Without the Veil Between: Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit Kindle Edition
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Denton shows us the tensions in the austere home of the Reverend Brontë, the hopes for and disappointment in his drunken son, Branwell, and the longings of the three sisters for a more fulfilling life. The sisters’ books are populated with people who live large lives, with secret loves, deception, greed, passion, and loyalty. In this setting, quiet Anne makes her own way, exploring human relationships with a keen sense of morality and ethics. As a governess she has to be with people all day, at their beck and call, and can barely aspire to more. But as a true Brontë, she does aspire. Brief moments with the young curate open her heart to the possibility of love. And she dreams of opening a school with her sisters, and being in charge of her own life. William’s sudden death from cholera plunges her into depression, but she concentrates on duty and endurance, and calls on her faith.
On return to her father’s home, Anne witnesses Branwell’s descent into drugs, sexual escapades, and fantasy. Denton writes, “To reside within the dissolution of principles and proper behavior without being party to it meant that constant vigilance was required, which left little time or inclination for make-believe.” Anne realizes she will never be comfortable at home, able to escape into her writing as Emily has. She believes she will never be useful in society or at home unless she pursues a “well-cultivated mind and well-disposed heart,” and “have the strength to help others be strong.” Denton indicates these are the real-world issues she explores in her writing.
Denton builds the story of Anne’s young life gradually, taking us through her thoughts and experiences as she matures. The tempo steps up with the three sisters together again at Haworth, after having been separated for a few years. Charlotte has an idea for a book of poetry featuring all of them. Emily balks, and Anne mediates between the two, securing Emily’s participation. I found this one of the most fascinating parts of the book. The dynamics among these three gifted women sizzles on the page. Descriptions of Charlotte and Emily are haunting in their excellence. Each woman changed literature and the way in which women were viewed in society. Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall has been called one of the first feminist novels.
The book roars through the tragedies of Branwell’s and Emily’s deaths from consumption. Through all of this Anne faces reality with determination. She has come to believe she was meant to be “an observer, and given … a quiet skill to extract lessons from what she saw. There was truth to be told, warnings to be issued, patience and prudence to instill in young women.” She depicted people and society with realism, not romanticism. This book made me wonder what Anne Brontë’s influence would have been had she lived to reach full maturity. Sadly, she died soon after her sister, Emily.
In Without The Veil Between, Denton’s writing has reached its maturity as well. I kept copying excerpts and pasting them in a file for me to read, enjoy, and think about later. Whole passages are beautifully written: meticulous, poetic, luminous, and powerful. The ending, echoing the title, is especially brilliant. I can’t think of anyone better suited to bring us into the world and the life of the sensitive, creative, and quietly courageous Anne Brontë.
Mary Clark, author of Miami Morning, Racing The Sun, and Children of Light
Anne Brontë comes through as a leading character in her own right, not as an understudy. Diane has written an exceptional history of a hidden jewel in the family Brontë and imbued her with a strength, a tenderness, and a will to animate and to shine.
Literary fiction has another distinctive voice in Diane Denton.
As was the case with many nineteenth century families, the Brontës suffered loss. Anne was born in 1820. Her mother died in 1821 and two of her sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died in 1825. This left the father, Patrick Brontë, an Anglican priest, to raise the three sisters and one son alone. Denton's emphasis on the thoughts and desires of the youngest Brontë sister brings color and life to the pages of her novel. She expresses Anne's concerns in lavish prose that matches the 19th century Brontë style. Without the Veil Between isn't simply a biography, it is a journey back into the day to day lives of one of history's most famous literary families.
Anne's brother, Branwell, was a primary focus of her thoughts due to his troubled lifestyle. He often returned home after his habits left him no alternative.
“Branwell also had the refuge of home for career disasters, but nowhere but drink and opium for those of the heart.”
Early in the novel, Anne desired a relationship with William Weightman, an assistant to her father and a good friend of Branwell's. Her feelings for the young curate were a mixture of her own interest and respect for the effect William had on her troubled brother.
“Branwell had even confided to her that 'Willie' was the best friend he'd ever had – with a wink that caused Anne to wonder if William had admitted something, too. She knew she shouldn't think so. Nevertheless, before she closed her eyes on that day she would be tempted to hold and look at one of her most treasured possessions: a Valentine...”
Of course, the role writing played in Anne and her sisters lives is the most interesting of their concerns.
“Writing and talking about their writing inspired them, and defined them, at least to each other.”
It was, as it is for most writers, a means of escape and a way of dealing with life's frustrations.
“Anne found writing a most natural and constant way to seek relief. Her reason became another’s, a naively optimistic, determined, almost invisible young woman named Agnes, who composed musings out of sorrows or anxieties to acknowledge in a resilient way all those powerful feelings that could never be wholly crushed and for which solace from any living creature shouldn’t be sought or expected. Anne hoped Agnes' story would mark her own passage from a woman of mere occupation to one of true vocation.”
The works of Charlotte and Emily, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, are the two Brontë novels most well known today, but Anne's novels Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are still taught in schools around the world. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was successful enough during Anne's life to earn a second edition.
Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul.
I know little of the Bronte sisters, so I can judge the book merely on its writing and characterisation, and Denton excells in both of them. I lived with the sisters on every page, moved by their spirit and touched by the tragedy. The sisters came to life in a manner that I never questioned historical accuracy or wondered about artistic licence. For me this was the story, delivately written with wonderful descriptive prose, attention to detail and a love for the genre. While I feared the Bronte sisters might be a bit 'too girlie' a subject for me, I needn't have worried. The depth and gravity of Anne Bronte comes across perfectly, making for an extremely satisfying read.