Day 890: Charlotte and Emily

Cover for Charlotte and EmilyI have read two of Jude Morgan’s literary biographical novels but never felt I was really seeing the true character of the subjects. However, with Charlotte and Emily, Morgan seems to have found his subject.

Charlotte and Emily covers most of the Brontës’ lives, from the time they were children until Charlotte marries Arthur Bell Nicholls. By that time, all the other Brontë siblings have died.

Charlotte is the main character of the novel, although it is occasionally told from the point of view of Anne. Emily remains distant from the reader, harder to know.

Much of the novel is concerned with the focus of the entire family on the future of brilliant Branwell, the only son. The girls are sent for schooling so that they can be teachers and earn money to help educate Branwell. Although Charlotte wonders if she can become a writer and even tries sending poetry to Southey, the poet laureate, she is discouraged by both Southey and her father.

Of course, Branwell never finds a vocation and instead becomes a wastrel. Charlotte and Anne work doggedly as teachers, although they hate it. Emily gets herself sent home both from school and work.

I have read biographies of the Brontës, but this novel is the first I’ve read that gave me a sense of what their lives may have been like. I found it completely absorbing. If you are a Brontë lover, this is a book for you.

Related Posts


The Secret Life of William Shakespeare


8 thoughts on “Day 890: Charlotte and Emily

  1. Helen April 26, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    I enjoyed this book too and liked it better than Jude Morgan’s books on Shakespeare and the Romantic poets. I can’t understand why only Charlotte and Emily are named in the title, though – the UK title is The Taste of Sorrow, which I think is much fairer to Anne.

    • whatmeread April 26, 2016 / 3:31 pm

      Oh, that’s a much nicer title. Yes, it’s odd, especially since Anne was really more important as a character than Emily in the novel. Sometimes I think the publishers believe that Americans are just dense, and they wouldn’t know the books was about the Brontës unless they used their names. And Charlotte and Emily are the two best known (unfairly). I agree that this one was much better than the Shakespeare novel or Passion, especially the Shakespeare novel. I didn’t get any feel for Shakespeare at all from that novel.

  2. Naomi April 26, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    I’l keep this one in mind when I want to read a good fictional account of them! I’ve also seen a new biography around lately that looks good: Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman. Have you seen it?

    • whatmeread April 27, 2016 / 10:09 am

      I haven’t read that yet, but I am keeping an eye on it.

  3. Emily J. April 26, 2016 / 9:30 pm

    I want to read this one! Do you think it stays pretty true to their lives? I always wonder about that when I read fictional accounts, like The Aviator’s Wife or American Wife.

    • whatmeread April 27, 2016 / 10:09 am

      As far as I can tell, it does. I really got more of a sense of what they were like and what their lives were like from it.

  4. Geoff W May 26, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    Finally catching up on this! I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’ve got some major catching up to do on Brönte fiction this year!

    • whatmeread May 26, 2016 / 12:23 pm

      I think this one will be worth your while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.