author : michaela maccoll
pages : [hardcover] 296
favorite characters : charlotte & emily
Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.
I’ve only read one book by the Bronte sisters-Jane Eyre. But I’ve heard much about their lives and have been fascinated that such talented writers could all grow up in the same household. While MacColl obviously takes liberties in recreating the lives of this well-known family, the plot really worked for me. I found it gripping, particularly towards the end, and I loved how at the finish of the book there was a detailed explanation of what was historically accurate and what the author placed in herself!
Although the book gets very exciting at the end due to the sisters unraveling the mystery, there are portions of the book beforehand that set up the novel and took a while longer for me to get through. It was almost like the pacing of Jane Eyre and how I assume the other Bronte books would go. I’m unsure of whether that was done purposefully or not; if it was then it was brilliantly done because this novel had the feel of a timeless classic accompanied by modern writing that made it much less of a chore to get through. I know that there are people who don’t enjoy the Bronte writings, maybe because it’s harder to relate to them, but this is definitely a novel that anyone can get behind.
Charlotte and Emily both had traits that frustrated me yet simultaneously made them seem more real. I felt like they could simply step out of the pages of the book because they could be charming and then do something real and human. The sisters had a rocky relationship as well. With their different personalities it’s no wonder that they never got along perfectly, yet when they both set aside their differences wonderful, interesting things happened.
If you’re looking for something different to read then this is certainly a book you should pick up. It was interesting, intense, and painted a romantic Gothic landscape that was incredibly captivating. I do hope that more books about the Bronte sisters will follow; at the very least I’ll be looking forward to reading more from this author!