A novel from the unfinished manuscript by Charlotte Bronte
Viking, April 2004
If you are a fan of Charlotte Brontë, a book inspired by and the first two chapters written by the lady herself, will be right up your alley.
Although the book’s main point-of-view character is a Mrs. Chalfont, the story is also told by several other people, including a young girl variously known as Matilda Fitzgibbon, then as Emma Brown—the last being her own selection, taken from a woman who sold her into what miraculously allows the girl to escape becoming a sexual slave. Her real surname remains a mystery until the last, and it takes this lengthy tale to discover it. For one thing, Emma does not remember her name, not even her first name until late in the novel, which, among other things, investigates the role of women and girls of that era.
Beautifully written, the story considers relationships whether familial or romantic. Whether those ties are forged by love or by honor and blood; within the upper class, the lower class and even the dregs of society. Action and danger come in the search for Emma when she disappears while attempting to discover these answers on her own. It seemed almost impossible our investigators would ever discover Emma or from whence she came, but dogged determination, time, and some money prevail in the end.
An intriguing and inspiring story, read it with care to gain all the nuances.
Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2021.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Six Dancing Damsels: A China Bohannon Mystery