This fictionalized biography of the four children of Patrick BrontÃ«, perpetual curate of Haworth Parsonage, Yorkshire (the four who survived childhood: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, Anne) is as scrupulously studied as the many volumes on library shelves that purport documentation. Haworth has always been a place of pilgrimage. The lives within that remote parsonage have aroused curiosity for over a century; the first speculator was Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell, whose biography of Charlotte BrontÃ« remains highly readable. Mrs. Banks, a novelist, says that she accepted the assignment to make a story of these four intertwined lives with hesitation. She has done her homework well; no known facts are distorted and her surmises, when the facts are not known, make sense. Here and there is a sentimentality, here and there a twentieth-century anachronism in the discourse. But she has marshalled the data of four far-from-sheltered lives, and made from the tear-jerking facts--isolation, poverty, consumption, early death--a surprisingly lively novel.