Monday, October 12, 2009

Emily's Ghost

Giardina, Denise. 2009. Emily's Ghost. W.W. Norton & Company. 335 pages.

At night, the door to other worlds opened wide. Emily waited as darkness fell, so ecstatic she shivered and wrapped her arms tight about her chest.

Emily is the Emily. Emily Bronte. And Emily's Ghost is a novelization of her life. A life lived for the most part with her family: Patrick, her father, a curate; Branwell, her brother; and her two sisters Anne and Charlotte.

This is not a novel about Emily's writing. Within its pages, we don't see many glimpses of Emily and her sisters hard at work...writing. This, instead, is a novel about the complex relationships between the three sisters. Relationships made more difficult, in a way, when all three fall for the same man: their father's assistant, William Weightman.

It's a romance in the sense that Emily does fall madly in love with William. And he with her. But for various reasons--neither here nor there--this was not to be. Emily felt 'the call' to much. Wanting the freedom to write. Wanting the freedom to wander. She knew that a life tied to a man--even a man she loved--would only tie her down. If she were to marry, she would have responsibilities. She'd be expected to behave: to be a prim and proper little wife. To conform to all of societies little codes and rules. To marry him would only invite scandal into his life. She knew that society would always see her as strange and dark and different.

I don't know how much (if any) of this is true. It would be nice in a way to have a way of knowing. Of knowing how much is based on truth, on fact, and how much is pure fabrication. Did Emily and William really have a relationship? Were they really in love? Was Charlotte and Emily really that much at odds with each other? Was there more hatred and bitterness than love and tenderness? Was Charlotte really that manipulative and mean?

For fans of any of the Bronte sisters, this is an interesting read. And a fast-paced one. Though it didn't make me particularly want to go read any of their books--like the Syrie James Bronte novelization did--still, it was a nice read. Lots of drama.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Richard LeComte said...

I read Giardina's "Saints and Villains," and this summer I read Charlotte Bronte's "Villette" as part of an on-line book club. Giardina takes some liberties with Bonhoeffer's life in "Saints," but I enjoy her work.

Annette said...

I am a Bronte fan! I must read this book. Maybe I'll shop for this book to read on my vacation and add it to my suitcase I'm taking of all the other books I need to read. LOL.

Serena said...

This sounds like a book that I would like. thanks for the review.