Thursday, June 18, 2015

What Would Emily And Charlotte Do?

 Always Emily,  an intriguing, quirky book by Michaela MacColl, deals with the Bronte kids before Emily and Charlotte wrote Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. The book is structured as a mystery that teenage Emily and Charlotte solve. But they're also very committed writers, and we see how they take experience and work it into their teenage projects.

This Jane Eyre fan was more interested in the puzzle/mind game aspect of the book then the mystery. I kept hunting for Jane references. Girls dying at boarding school would be one. The "mad woman" hidden away would be another. Was Robert Heaton an Edward Rochester stand-in? Fire figures in both Always Emily and Jane Eyre. Charlotte is portrayed in Always Emily as a strong, somewhat moral character, similar to Jane in Jane Eyre.

I was frustrated reading this book because I have so little knowledge of Wuthering Heights, Emily's book. Emily is portrayed as wilder than Charlotte here. Is she like Catherine in WH? Is the young man she knew as a child and finds on the moor a Heathcliff figure? What about the dog!? What about the cemetery?

Emily and Charlotte are intense about their writing here, and we see them taking what they know and using it in the writing projects they're working on in Always Emily. That behavior makes it clear, I think, that what they are experiencing in the world of Always Emily will eventually make its way into Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

MacColl has a new book, The Revelation of Louisa May, dealing with a young Louisa May Alcott. I think I know more about Alcott and her work than I do about the Brontes and theirs, so I'm looking forward to reading Louisa May at some point.

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