PATH TO THE SILENT COUNTRY: Charlotte Bronteë's Years of Fame by Lynn Reid Banks

PATH TO THE SILENT COUNTRY: Charlotte Bronteë's Years of Fame

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The second installment of Lynn Reid Banks' fictionalized Brontë biography will disappoint readers who last year welcomed her Dark Quartet. The first, though it told the sad stories of the deaths of all but one of the Brontë children, was spirited and credible; the second is very soggy. Perhaps the cast of characters makes the difference. Emily, Anne, and Branwell Brontë, for all their trials, were lively young people, and the book's dialogue, largely extracted from their unpublished romances, was convincing. Poor Charlotte! She had seen so many deaths, suffered so many girlish heartaches, and was now caged up at Haworth Parsonage with a tyrannical father who sent away the curate who wished to marry her. Charlotte didn't like him much either, but marry they eventually did. Banks' thesis is that Charlotte finally knew a few months of happiness and fulfillment (a word heavily relied on for delicacy in matters of sex) with her husband before dying, pregnant, though not because of the pregnancy. The records tend to bear her out. But most of the book is pure gloom, and it is hard to sympathize entirely with a woman of thirty-four who is still bewailing the failed romance of her early twenties. The prose is dead, with many speculations as to what Charlotte might have said to Mrs. Gaskell or Harriet Martineau--and vice versa. Neither fact, fantasy, nor good red-blooded Gothick.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1978
Publisher: Delacorte