Mittwoch, 2. Januar 2013
The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan
Jude Morgan wrote a fictionalized account of the Bröntës' lives, starting with the death of their mother and ending a little after Charlotte's marriage. Although all family members receive sufficient attention the novel's focus is clearly on Charlotte, something which you quickly notice through the style that - sometimes more, sometimes less drastically - seems to imitate Jane Eyre. I don't say that as criticism, in fact it was very appropriate, especially since Charlotte inevitably reminds the reader of her famous heroine. Of course there are differences between them: the "real" Charlotte Brontë is less outspoken and, naturally, less fortunate, but her personality in Morgan's portrayal is very similar to Jane's.
Again, I am not criticising this, because Jane Eyre obviously is based on her author.
Unfortunately, I am not familiar enough with the details of the Bröntës' lives to judge how much of their feelings and thoughts in the novel are adapted from their real sentiments expressed in letters, diaries or stories, but I have to bow to Jude Morgan anyway for creating such believable characters.
Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell are not just dusty entries in literary encyclopedias, but authentic, tangible people. If they did not exactly do or say the things as Morgan writes them, it is at least very easy to imagine that they could have done or said them. Whether it is Branwell's descent into alcoholism because he cannot bear the weight of expectations on him or Emily's inability to feel comfortable around people she cannot remember always loving; this novel draws very realistic pictures of the Brontë siblings' lives and personalities.
The only character I found a little one-dimensional is Anne, who is completely unselfish and only concerned with making the lives of her family members as easy as possible without regard to her own happiness, but then maybe that was Anne's role in her family. I don't know, but I am now eager to read her books.
With 464 pages this book was not too long, in fact it was a quick read, but it is maybe a little stretched in the middle and then too hurried when it comes to the development of the sisters' novels. About Emily's motivation to write Wuthering Heights the reader learns virtuallly nothing, for instance, and Charlotte's inspiration for Jane Eyre is also only outlined roughly. (Looking at her live I have to wonder where Mr. Rochester comes from.) But again, perhaps there simply is no existing information on these topics and Jude Morgan didn't want to invent anything. To be sure, it doesn't impair his novel much: The Taste of Sorrow is a great book for anyone interested in the Brontës and I am looking forward to reading more from Jude Morgan, his novels on Shakespeare and the romantic poets for example.