Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontës By Jude Morgan


Also known as The Taste of Sorrow.

From an obscure country parsonage came the most extraordinary family of the nineteenth century. The Brontë sisters created a world in which we still live - the intense, passionate world of JANE EYRE and WUTHERING HEIGHTS; and the phenomenon of this strange explosion of genius remains as baffling now as it was to their Victorian contemporaries. In this panoramic novel we see with new insight the members of a uniquely close-knit family whose tight bonds are the instruments of both triumph and tragedy. Emily, the solitary who turns from the world to the greater temptations of the imagination: Anne, gentle and loyal, under whose quietude lies the harshest perception of the stifling life forced upon her: Branwell, the mercurial and self-destructive brother, meant to be king, unable to be a prince: and the brilliant, uncompromising, tormented Charlotte, longing for both love and independence, who establishes the family's name and learns its price. Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontës

Some time ago, I read The King's Touch by Jude Morgan (about James, Duke of Monmouth) and loved it, so I'm surprised it took me so long to read Morgan's latest novel, The Taste of Sorrow.

The Taste of Sorrow tells a familiar story, that of the Bronte sisters' childhood, rise to fame, and premature deaths, but Morgan manages to make this oft-told story seem fresh. He doesn't do this by telling his story through an unusual perspective or by adding sensational elements; rather, he accomplishes his task through exquisite writing, a dry wit, and rich characterizations. Though all of the Bronte siblings emerge with distinct personalities, I especially liked the character of Anne, who's given the honor of uttering one of the funniest lines of the book following a particularly spectacular spree by the sisters' wastrel brother, Branwell. Morgan also does a fine job with Patrick Bronte and with the Hegers.

I would have liked it if the novel had devoted a little more time to Charlotte's life after the deaths of her siblings, instead of a single chapter, but that's not so much a criticism as just a wish that this book could have gone on a little longer. As one who enjoys author's notes, I wish Morgan had added one, or at least indicated which sources he found most useful, though it's clear that he's researched the lives of the Brontes and their circle thoroughly.

Familiarity with the Brontes' novels will add to one's enjoyment of Morgan's novel, but it's not a prerequisite, so don't let a lack of such familiarity keep you from reading The Taste of Sorrow. It's one of the best historical novels I've read, this year or any other year. 9780312642730 La historia novelada de los Brontë. Cruda, dramática y triste.
Si no le doy 5 estrellas es porque creo que la parte central es quizás demasiado extensa y me hubiera gustado saber más de su infancia y de su manera de crear sus mundos e historias, pero aún así, es una novela impresionante que retrata muy bien la vida y pensamiento de estos cuatro hermanos (Bramwell a mi pesar tiene bastante presencia en la historia xD)
Desde luego la figura central es Charlotte, pero todos los personajes tienen mucha fuerza y resultan completamente creíbles, aunque no sabemos hasta qué punto los datos y situaciones son ficción o realidad.
Sea como sea, creo que es un libro imprescindible para todos los que somos fans de las novelas de las Brontë, por lo bien que recrea sus vidas y sus sentimientos y lo que logra que empatices con ellas.
La última parte del libro, a pesar de la tristeza que me transmitió, me pareció perfecta. 9780312642730 This is the real life story of the Brontes

This isn’t some romanticised version of them; this isn’t some fanciful reworking of the backdrop of Wuthering Heights in which the sisters wondered around the moors all day looking forlorn; this isn’t some cultural regurgitation of this overworked schema that has infested our ideas about the sisters: this is an actualised version of the reality of their lives, and it’s rather excellent.

The Taste of Sorrow presents the true, unadulterated, life of the Bronte family. It wasn’t a very nice childhood for the girls. It was full of sickness, death and depravity. What struck me most strongly when reading this, and various academic biographies and theory books I've studied over the last year, is how much the personal experience of the young Charlotte affected her later writing. In Jane Eyre the character of Helen Burns was inspired by her the oldest Bronte sister who died at a similar institute. Similarly, the deplorable Brocklehurst derived from an actual strict school master. In a sense, a part of Charlotte’s novels are semi-autobiographical. Perhaps that’s why she utilises the first person so effectively.

I’m digressing here. But, what I mean to say is that the research carried out shines through this historically rich narrative. Whist it is a work of fiction, it is very strongly based upon facts. The Bronte’s produced such iconic pieces of literature; their legacy speaks for itself, and this is a unique look at the women behind the works; it is a suggestion how they could have felt when writing and undergoing personal turmoil. It is truly surprising that all these works came out one family. It is unusual and brilliant.

“Emily’s world fascinates and disturbs: in it you can touch thick Yorkshire speech, and moorland rain slants across your mind with a smell of mossy limestone and yet you are not at home, you might almost be in Gondal or Angria except the towers and the dungeons are of the spirit, the dungeons especially; and sometimes when Emily reads out in her low, almost guttural voice Charlotte wants to run but can’t think why or where she would run to.”

Personally, Charlotte is my favourite Bronte. I think she had the most talent. And the Charlotte depicted here is a strong one. She outlived all of her siblings, and still carried on with her life; it didn’t prevent her from writing: she transferred her feeling into her writing. Emily was a little bit of an outcast, and naturally, in this novel she is a recluse. Anne was the one who existed most in reality, and actually tried to improve her family before her death rather than lock herself away.

“Anne’s is a world very like this one, and you can move about in it with familiarity - but not freedom: it is a place of rigorous consequence, where the weak have to give way to the strong, where her governess heroine Agnes must walk as best she can in the cold shade of money and masculinity.”

Despite their contrasting personalities each Bronte sister found that they were looked down upon in the role of a governess. After the failures they each had in teaching they began writing. And I couldn’t be thankful enough that their teaching careers were terrible. Can you imagine what the literary world would have missed out on? We never truly would have understood the role of the governess. So this is a rather good historical novel. I thought I’d also take a moment to mention the writing style itself. It is very evocative, effective, and laden with colons! As some of you may have noticed, I rather like colons and semi-colons: I find them most expressive. So when I see them used so wonderfully in a modern novel, I have to mention it. They’re simply not used enough in writing today.

I really do recommend this book to Bronte fans, whether Charlotte, Emily or Anne is your favourite, I think you might enjoy this too.
9780312642730 In this novel Mr.Morgan does it again, he achieves sublime precision to what the Brontë sisters' lives might have been, mastering the art of combining fiction with reality. The result: this achingly real tale of sorrow.
Although not a biographical work, it's incredibly easy to believe his version of the facts. Fiction? Maybe. I think some events described must have been invented, but still, Morgan shows his deep understanding of the time, the place and the people which crossed the path of these three unconventional sisters, making the story astonishingly believable.
The book begins with the death of Maria Branwell, mother of the Brontë children, who leaves her severe husband, Patrick Brontë, with 5 girls and an only boy to rise. At first, the story focuses on the surroundings of the famous girls: Charlotte, Emily and Anne, especially in their horrible experience in Cowan Bridge boarding school, where their elder sisters get mortally sick.
After they leave the school for good, we observe little by little the way their strikingly different characters start to develop, even more when their paths are separated by their own experiences working as governesses or teachers.
It's through effort and patience that the sisters manage adulthood, always sacrificing their only passion, writing, for the greater good; which is always in advantage of their brother, Branwell. A man who lives embittered by envy and a coward to face his flaws, he drags all his family down with him.
What I most enjoyed about this book is the possibility it brings to understand what kind of lives lead the Brontë sisters to become what they were and to write the way they did.
Charlotte, the eldest sister, always carrying her responsibility, serious, sharp minded, afraid of showing her thoughts, but daring when she needs to. I was proud of her when she confronts her father about her need to write, although she is dismissed like a kid.
Emily, unearthly, almost inhuman. She needs nothing, she lives through her imaginary worlds, although she understands everything that goes around her and she is the one to give the good advice without expecting gratitude back. She doesn't have expectations, she only needs the moors and quietness to write to feel complete.
Anne, dear, sweet Anne. The little sister, the one left aside, but the one who bears the burdens, the one who sacrifices without complain, the one who makes them a whole being, who keeps them together.
Oh, and the bliss of reading about their creative process, how they come up with the poems with the pseudonym masculine names, how Charlotte finds in her real experiences the Jane Eyre she has been nurturing all along inside her, how she gets inspiration in her apparent dull life. Their father, their brother, the curates...everybody is captured in essence in some of their books.
I was awkwardly moved until the last page, sublime description of the last years of the sisters, magnificent description of Charlotte's feelings. A lesson to be learnt.
Having visited Haworth Parsonage a year ago, and after reading this book, I feel as if the Brontë sisters have become alive, I believe I get the picture, and I understand it. These poor and smart sisters, pitiful and unsocial creatures who seemed to have been born only to suffer, they made their dreams come true, they left their footprint in English Literature.
I only wish they could know what their books have become to lots of us, like me, so that their short lives wouldn't seem wasted.
I have to thank Mr. Morgan for this new feeling, the urge to talk to the authors, Charlotte, Emiliy and Anne, not to the characters, Jane, Cathy or Mrs Graham.
This is his achievement after all.
Will be reading anything written by him! 9780312642730 «...tenía que aprender de nuevo a escribir. Hasta entonces, había sido una actividad compartida: la luz de la lámpara, las lecturas en voz alta, los paseos alrededor de la mesa. Nosotras tres. Ahora era una batalla con dos frentes: el arte y la soledad. A veces, cuando se sentaba a trabajar después de que su padre se retirase a dormir, dejaba la pluma suspendida en el aire y escuchaba. El silencio del comedor estaba tan preñado de presencias, que reclamaba tu atención y te hacía pensar que de ahí tenía que salir algo. Se diría que el aire había retenido sus aromas y sus voces; las sombras de la pared prácticamente se concretaban en la delgadez de Emily, el esbelto perfil de Anne. Una especie de alegría enfermiza la paralizaba y quedaba a la espera, sabiendo que de aquel embarazo nacería un niño muerto, la confirmación de la desolación: el silencio que nunca cesa».
Jude Morgan o la maestría al combinar ficción y realidad. Empecé 'El sabor de las penas' reticente, casi convencida de que poco podría aportar a mi universo Brontë particular, y...vaya si estaba equivocada. Volver al presbiterio de Haworth y a sus páramos desolados; a las concurridas calles de Londres y Bruselas de la mano del señor Morgan, ha resultado una experiencia maravillosa. He leído 'El sabor de las penas' con el corazón en un puño, conmovida hasta las últimas páginas. Pienso en esa última escena de Charlotte frente al mar y no puedo evitar emocionarme.
Hay mucha verdad en la reconstrucción de Jude Morgan (si habéis leído biografías y estudios de la familia Brontë, sabréis reconocer muchos acontecimientos, detalles y anécdotas: la caída de Tabby, el incidente de Emily con el perro rabioso, las tarjetas de San Valentín del señor Weightman, Anne y la bahía de Scarborough, el terrible verano de Charlotte en Bruselas...) y, por supuesto, una parte importante de ficción. Pero ésta reconstrucción está tan lograda, que apenas puedes creer que no sea real.

He adorado el retrato que hace de las personalidades de Charlotte, Emily y Anne. Los pensamientos de Charlotte y su incansable lucha por afirmarse; por dejar su huella en el mundo, sin traicionarse a sí misma. El espíritu indomable de Emily, refugiándose en las profundidades de la imaginación y en la naturaleza inhóspita de los páramos. Y, como no, la entereza de Anne; su dulce entrega por el bien de los suyos y su fuerza inquebrantable. Adoré como queda retratada la relación entre hermanas, con sus altos y sus bajos; y, por encima de todo, ser testigo del glorioso proceso de verlas convertirse en escritoras.

Un libro precioso. 9780312642730

Jude Morgan ¾ 9 Read & download

Confession time again - I can't claim to have read everything written by the Brontes but I will admit to having a special place in my heart for this Yorkshire family. Jane Eyre is my all time favourite novel and a couple of years ago I had the honour of visiting Haworth Parsonage, staying a couple of nights in the village and supping a few beers (no laudanum though!). One might labour under the misapprehension that it's an easy thing to do - to captivate readers with such fascinating subject matter - but I can't think of a more daunting task for an author to take on than to revitalise a story which is so well known without taking liberties!

Well, I'm very pleased to report that Mr Morgan has done a splendid job. I do think it helps to have some pre-existing knowledge of the Brontes in order to fully embrace this fictionalised account of their lives. So how does the author breathe life into this tale? Firstly, I think the use of the present tense is an excellent tool as it succeeds in immediately drawing us into the claustraphobic corners of the parsonage and the intellectual intensity of the sisters. Admittedly the style takes a bit of effort on the reader's part at first as it's in the third person and it does tend to flit about a lot between the siblings - something which, I feel, complements the darting, birdlike movement of their creativity and imagination and heightens the drama of their story.

The novel opens with the death of their mother and concludes as Charlotte embarks on a new life, married to Reverend Nicholls. There are those who would have preferred the story to continue to include Charlotte's death one year later but I actually found it quite refreshing for it to end on a note of optimism. Other books about the Brontes have focussed on Charlotte but I found this novel gives us more insight into Emily and Anne and even Maria and Elizabeth who are so often overlooked. Personally, I find absolutely no redeeming qualities in Branwell who was a selfish boor with no consideration for his siblings but Mr Morgan is slightly more gentle in his portrayal of the only son who is always misunderstood.

The cloistered ambiance of the parsonage, the wildness of the moors and the social isolation of these three exceptionally talented women is evident throughout the novel. I firmly believe that it takes a very talented writer to tell a well worn story and still manage to move the reader emotionally without resorting to mawkishness. Even if you never have the opportunity to visit Haworth, reading this novel will make you feel like you're actually there. You will feel the despair and deprivation of Cowan Bridge as well as the heartache of Charlotte in Brussels and have a much clearer perception of how life events influenced the Brontes' novels. Yes, it's an intense read but well worth the effort!

PS. I would also highly recommend Lynne Reid Banks' excellent fictionalised accounts of the Brontes - Dark Quartet and Path to the Silent Country although I fear that they might be out of print (second hand anyone?).
9780312642730 Wonderful! I loved this book, although I’ve read about the Brontes before this fictional account of their lives was believable and well done. I could imagine each of their characters being just as they’re depicted here. It was hard to put down and I was so emotional when Jane Eyre was published, I had more tears in my eyes than when Anne and Emily died! A treat for a Bronte fan. 9780312642730 Cuando la editorial Alianza anunció la reedición de las tres novelas más conocidas de las hermanas Brontë vi que incluían un libro que hacía referencia a ellas. El sabor de las penas, una novela acerca de sus vidas, una novela, no una biografía. Así y todo, me interesaba, igual que me interesa todo lo que tenga que ver con ellas y era un libro del que no había tenido noticia hasta ahora. No es de extrañar que quisiera leerlo y no voy a negar que estaba un pelín pletórica después de leer la joya de Jane Austen en la intimidad. Sabía que no sería igual, pero esperaba que me gustase, de todos modos.
Esta novela de Jude Morgan es arriesgada, se arriesgó al publicarla, ya no diré al escribirla, porque ya sabéis que las Brontë tienen muchos fans y novelar su vida requiere decantase por una versión de esta, darles personalidad y seguramente mucho de lo que pongas sea tu visión y no la de todas las demás personas que las admiran. Igualmente entras en el mundo de la ficción e imagino que Morgan tuvo que inventar, lo cual muchos fans tampoco suelen tomarse bien. Con todo esto, lo que quiero decir es que es bueno acercarse a estos libros como algo curioso, como algo más sobre las autoras que tanto inspiran y ya está. Es una novela, no una biografía que espera ser recta y fiable. Por eso creo que hay que ir con esa idea en la cabeza y si sois muy sensibles respecto a este tema, diría que sería difícil que pudieseis disfrutar de este tipo de trabajos.
Mi primera impresión cuando empecé a leer fue de confusión. Jude Morgan emplea aquí un estilo que no es tan directo como me gusta a mí, está en presente, cambia a veces la persona verbal y las elipsis no están muy marcadas. A veces empiezo un nuevo párrafo y me cuesta un tiempo darme cuenta de que han pasado años. Para mí, no es el mejor estilo que habría podido emplear.
Y luego me sorprendió el tono, que tampoco era el que esperaba. Siempre se ha hablado de la vida de Charlotte, Emily y Anne como una sucesión de desgracias, y es verdad que tuvieron más que muchas otras personas en toda su vida, pero, aunque todos sabemos lo que es pasar por malos momentos, me cuesta creer que nunca tuviesen un momento de alegría y felicidad en sus vidas. El tono de la historia es bastante lúgubre y se apoya en esa visión oscura de la vida de las tres hermanas, por lo que todo es sufrimiento casi. Triste, oscuro, frío. Y eso no nos deja con un regusto amargo cada vez que dejamos de leer, que no es lo que yo suelo buscar en mis lecturas.
No voy a decir que no me haya gustado la novela, porque sí la he disfrutado, puede que no tanto como creía al principio que haría, pero aun así es un buen repaso de la vida de las hermanas, en especial de la de Charlotte, lo cual tiene sentido porque es de la que más datos se conocen y se conservan, es la que vivió más y estuvo más expuesta al público durante su trayectoria como escritora de éxito. También he conocido detalles sobre sus vidas que desconocía porque si os movéis un poco por el mundo de sus biografías, cada una dice cosas diferentes y también se especula mucho. He llegado a leer que Emily y Branwell tenían una relación incestuosa, que Branwell en realidad era homosexual y no había cometido adulterio con la mujer de su jefe, sino con su jefe en realidad, etc.
De todas maneras, es una buena manera de conocer sus vidas y la parte que más me ha gustado es la que se refiere a la emoción que viven al escribir, al publicar, al conocer las opiniones de sus escritos… Se hacen famosas y no se lo creen, han publicado con pseudónimos y su vida sigue en Haworth sin ser nada especial, pero media Inglaterra se pregunta quienes son los hermanos Bell.
Para darles personalidad a las autoras la novela se sostiene en lo que se ha contado. Que Anne era la pequeña y la más cuidada y que tenía una fuerte influencia de su tía Branwell; que Emily era solitaria, misántropa y con un carácter difícil, muy difícil; que Branwell era un fracaso; que el señor Brontë era un tanto rígido y que Charlotte era insegura con su aspecto, pequeña pero valiente y que las tres hermanas prácticamente nunca fueron muy felices. Esto es lo que nos puede llegar a día de hoy, pero ¿eran así realmente? Eso nunca lo sabremos, no podremos conocerlas y a mí no me gusta creer a pie juntillas lo que digan sus biógrafos, tampoco me gusta pensar que fuesen siempre tan infelices… pero eso ya es cosa mía.
La novela ofrece una versión y aunque sí que inventa, por decirlo de alguna manera, está muy asentada en los datos biográficos que se conservan de ellas, tanto por la biografía que hizo la escritora Elizabeth Gaskell, contemporánea de las Brontë y amiga de Charlotte, como en las posteriores.
He disfrutado conocer todo esto poco a poco, adentrarme en la vida de la rectoría, pero como digo, el tono tan lúgubre hace que me cueste un poco conseguirlo. Y luego hay un aspecto que sí que no me ha gustado nada de nada. Hay un tratamiento del sexo que me parece horrible, aunque puede que yo no haya entendido bien lo que la autora quería expresar. Todas las mujeres en la novela, empezando por la madre, la señora Brontë, ven el sexo como algo más bien desagradable. Algo que les gusta a los hombres y no pueden entender por qué. Los hombres también muestran una imagen perturbadora del tema, al principio el señor Brontë, pero también el director de Cowan Bridge tiene un tono similar. También está lo que cuenta una niña del mismo colegio y la desinformación con la que viven las hermanas. En toda la novela, puede que menos hacia el final, el sexo se ha visto como algo malo, negativo, algo que deben soportar y que toma un tono bastante perturbador en los personajes masculinos. Que se sexualizase tanto algunos aspectos y con este cariz a lo largo de toda la novela no me ha gustado mucho, creo que sobra.
La edición forma parte de la colección que Alianza ha sacado de estas reediciones de las tres obras mas conocidas de las hermanas, aunque he visto que La inquilina de Wildfell Hall empieza a ser ahora con más fuerza la obra de referencia de Anne Brontë y por lo que me han contado es mucho mejor que Agnes Gray. Yo solo he leído la de la Inquilina y me fascinó, a ver si pronto leo su primera novela y puedo comparar yo misma.
Aun así, es una colección muy bonita y práctica, en tapa dura y tienen diseños relacionados. El sabor de las penas, como las demás, tiene una sobrecubierta y un interior sencillo, me hubiera gustado que además de la historia en sí incluyese una introducción o alguna nota de la autora.
En conclusión, puedo decir que ha sido una experiencia interesante. A medida que avanza en la lectura me he ido acostumbrado al estilo, un tanto peculiar, y creo que hace un buen trabajo asentándose en lo que se transmite de las Brontë en las biografías que hay publicadas. No se va por teorías, sino que sigue la historia oficial y en base a esos datos recrea la personalidad de las tres hermanas escritoras y la de su padre.
Como he dicho al principio, no tengo problema con este tipo de lecturas porque soy capaz de ir con la mente abierta, pero sé que hay personas a las que les cuesta o que son muy sensibles a este tipo de proyectos. Es una lectura interesante, sobre todo si sois fans de las autoras y puesto que su vida fue tan fascinante, es lógico que la mayoría de sus lectoras queramos saber más como era, por eso las novelas que surgen son una forma de aliviar esa curiosidad. Hay que tener siempre presente eso, que son novelas y que no hay manera de saber lo cerca o lo lejos que están de lo que fue la realidad de sus vidas, pero son lecturas curiosas, interesantes y yo disfruto de este tipo de lecturas. Si os llama la atención, os animo desde aquí a darle una oportunidad. 9780312642730 This is a book about the Brontë family and not just of the three girls turned writers - Anne, Charlotte and Emily - but also of their household. Their brother Branwell has a prominent place and a big influence on his sisters. The book is quite inventive and can be read as fiction due to the long dialogues that are by necessity imagined. However, the facts themselves are stark and shocking. Poor Mr. Brontë, the father - his wife and all his children died before him! The author makes some keen obervations on human nature and all-in-all, this is a highly recommendable book. 9780312642730 Historical fiction about the Brontes--Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell. I struggled with this book. A lot. The beginning was engaging and the end was simply on fire. But the middle seemed weighted down with a lot of detail about the girls' times as governesses and teachers and understand quite quickly that was not what they wanted to do. I'm not going to tell any author how to write their book, but that section was heavy and took forever to wade through. I get the point: Jane Eyre is Charlotte, but I didn't need 200 pages of it. The writing was gorgeous; I wish that had been enough to keep the midsection, well, interesting. The last 70 pages of the book is the chunk that we all want to know about; the writers creating their famous books, what inspired them how they worked together. How they revealed themselves after writing under pseudonyms. This was the nut of the book, and I wish it had been longer. For the start and the end, I gave four stars because they were both that good--but if you skim in the middle, you're not at a loss for it. 9780312642730