A girl runs wild and writes furiously in this portrait of author Emily Brontë’s early years.
Although she chafes at society’s expectations, as embodied by her stern aunt, Emily would gladly remain on the English moors with her dog and her scribbling siblings—braggart Branwell, cautious Charlotte and pious Anne—forever. Having lost her mother and older sisters, Emily loathes change and accordingly struggles with Charlotte’s absences, her own brief time at boarding school and her father’s illness. Inexplicably and violently shy, Emily hates being seen, discussed or even talked to by people outside the household. Self-isolated, she prefers walks in the wild and writing, initially creating melodramatic romances and adventures in the fantasy series shared with her siblings and, by novel’s end, attempting a contemporary, character-based story by herself (presumably Wuthering Heights). Emily comes off as a complex, somewhat heartless and uncivilized girl, yet she’s a better artist than Charlotte, a better musician than Branwell and a more committed writer than Anne—claims unsupported by her minimal surviving real-world work. In her author’s note, Eagland admits to taking some liberties in her attempt to decipher the “enigmatic” Emily but relies heavily on well-chronicled facts and Emily’s one and only novel.
Despite liberties, this is more educational than entertaining and is best suited to fans of the Brontës or biographic celebrations of tortured 19th-century authors. (Historical fiction. 12-18)