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Emily Bronte Reappraised by Claire O'Callaghan - Review

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

At my book club in January Gina offered me her copy of this book to read and I thought it looked really interesting so I took it and picked it up only a couple of days later when I was away in Helmsley celebrating my birthday. I really liked it, so much so that I used a voucher I had to buy the similar books in the series about Charlotte and Anne. 

I guess I had a rudimentary knowledge of Emily. I have been to the Bronte parsonage in Haworth a few times and I've picked up knowledge there. I've never read Wuthering Heights (I'm not much of a Classics fan, sorry...) but I do know stuff about the sisters and I really liked the drama about their lives from 2016, which was called To Walk Invisible. In fact I had mentioned it to someone not long before reading this book, because I felt in it that Emily was doing a lot of the hard work in the house and just rolling her eyes and going 'oh for god's sake' at everyone else. The author here actually said basically the same thing in the end of the book when she mentioned To Walk Invisible and said how good it was.

So, saying that, I didn't know a lot about Emily's life and especially parts of her life outside of her sisters (and their brother Branwell, to a lesser degree). This isn't a straightforward biography as such - instead it looks at contemporary depictions of Emily, for which the sources are Charlotte, who was biased of course and who sometimes seems to have been jealous of Emily, and Mrs Gaskell, a friend of Charlotte's, who never actually met Emily herself (Emily had already died by the time Charlotte met Mrs Gaskell). It also looks at Emily 'fake news' which I found very amusing. This is a cute little book, I read it quickly and was really interested in it. I am looking forward to reading the books about Charlotte and Anne too. I'm giving this five out of five. 

As a side note, now I'm 39, I have officially outlived all the Bronte siblings... wow. 

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