AN ENIGMA OF BRONTES by Maureen Peters


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Peters who has written at least twenty historically hybridized novels (with tattletale titles such as Flawed Enchantress or The Woodville Wench) has told the Bronte story with no invention, less mawkishness than you might have expected from the above but certainly no originality of any kind, and a fair application to the literature -- whether letters or diaries or poems or the original source, Mrs. Gaskell. It has ipso facto the faint flush of sentimentality of the consumption which doomed the six motherless children with ""sublime talents"" of the harsh curate -- and none of the extending insights of, say, Elizabeth Hardwick's shorter piece in Seduction and Betrayal (KR, p. 278). The ""enigma"" of the title remains an empty word as she goes through the foreshortened lives and obsequies, paying somewhat more attention to the ""infernal world"" of fantasy they created in their childhood particularly in conjunction with the gin-and-laudanum sipping Branwell. More modern readers will resent a phrase such as ""the taint of Lesbianism"" but otherwise it's just a hot water bottle version of the story that has been told and retold, usually by women writers (Daphne du Maurier, Phyllis Bentley, Margaret Lane) who rarely resurrect anything firmer from the sad, frail lives enclosed in Haworth Parsonage.

Pub Date: June 24th, 1974
Publisher: St. Martin's Press