UNQUIET SOUL: A Biography of Charlotte Bronte by Margot Peters

UNQUIET SOUL: A Biography of Charlotte Bronte

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A romantic, a melodramatic, a frankly Gothic (viz., ""Her heart died within her"") life of Charlotte Bronte, the eldest and most tenacious of the prodigiously talented brood. Peters tells it as Charlotte might have: a biography of ""hunger, rage and rebellion"" with much suspense and gnashing of literary teeth and a feminist's understanding of the social forces that kept her a governess until, at the age of 30, she adopted a male pseudonym. With great swatches of Charlotte's correspondence, the author recounts the Brontes' collective fantasies; the girls' education at inferior Lowood-like institutions; the family's hopes for Branwell and his subsequent dissipation and madness. Charlotte was rebuffed by Wordsworth and Southey (""Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. . ."") ten years before ""Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell"" took Victorian England by storm with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey. Charlotte's entry into the literary circles of Thackeray, Mrs. Gaskell, and Harriet Martineau followed the consumptive deaths of Branwell, Emily and Anne within months of each other. Peters paints a glowing portrait of London society, with attention to the attacks on the ""immorality,"" ""overmasculinity,"" ""unwomanliness"" (read sexuality) of Jane Eyre. Unquiet Soul is scholarly--with a bibliography that ranges from the primary sources to Sexual Politics, socially relevant, redolent of Victoriana and reads like a ladies' novel--what more could you want?

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1975
Publisher: Doubleday