Monday, 17 November 2014

Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontës by Lynne Reid Banks

As a fan of the Brontë sisters I take every opportunity to read something about their lives. It does not
matter that you already know most things, each writer always has something to add to the whole story.

This book is a biographical or historical fiction of the four Brontë siblings. I love historical fiction so looked forward reading this. However, it is difficult to write biographical fiction about such loved characters as the Brontës. All the fans have their own view on how they were and how they lived. Lynne Reid Banks book is a master piece in this sense. I must admit that I had some difficulties getting into the book and the first part, the very start of the story, did not appeal to me. I found the writing a mixture between non-fiction and fiction. However, that changed rather quickly.

The more I got into the book, the more I was amazed how well she describes the siblings, as well as other characters connected to them. She has created their characters from what is known of them and from their writings, and at least for me, this is really spot on as I imagined them to be. She makes them so real, they just come into life in front of your eyes. Telling the stories from each of the siblings' point of view, you find out that they are all four very different characters.

The Parsonage in Haworth
Branwell’s story is always sad. A probably talented person who did not have the strength and character to go through with his projects. His overestimation of his own talent, his use of drugs and alcohol took him from a promising youth to a miserable adult. Maybe the hopes for him, as the man in the family, and thus, the person who should support his sisters, were to much for him to bear.

Charlotte, the eldest sister, always took care of the others. She had her happiness for a short time in her life, and managed with her will and her love for writing to fulfil her life. Her love for M. Heger is delicately described, and her longing for him, once she is back in England, is so well written that I think we can all feel what she felt.

Emily, the loner, loving her dog and the moors. She was a tough, but still vulnerable figure, with a lot of wild passion inside her. She held it under tight reins but she could let it show when she walked her beloved moors and in her masterpiece Wuthering Heights. She could not bear to be away from Haworth and suffered incredibly the three times she ventured out into the world.

Top Withens

Anne, the youngest sister was very gentle. She seemed fragile, but was maybe the strongest of them all, in her religious beliefs and her stubbornness to finish what she had started. For several years she worked as a governess to help earn money for the family. Branwell got his job as a tutor to the son at Green Thorpe through her, but it ended in disastrous results when he fell in love with the wife.

The brother and sisters are beautifully and lovingly portrayed in this book. The description of the scenery and the people surrounding the siblings, is very well done, and makes it very real. Their lives are told from the angle of each one of them, which makes it even more fascinating. The same situations are interpreted from different sides and different persons.

Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, have been read by generations ever
since they were written. Here you enter into passionate stories of strong characters, feelings and passions, and in the background is always the moors. The sense of desolation in their books seems to have come from their daily lives. I found that Lynne Reid Banks have managed to keep this special atmosphere in her telling of their story. The book brought me back to the times of the Brontës, and it was as exciting and passionate, as to read one of their books. It really took some time to come back to the 21st century once I finished it. If you love the Brontës, and if you love biographical fiction, this is a book for you.

This book was given to me for free from Endeavour Press. The views put forward are my own personal views.

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