Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Month of Brontes

I decided to do something different this month.  Inspired by my initial foray into Juliet Barker's magnificent - and rather dense - biography and urged on by Craftlit I chose to focus all of my reading in January on the Bronte family.

1. The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors:  The Story of a Literary Family, Juliet Barker (ebook)  I adore this book.  It's one of the most complete biographies I've ever read, and it seeks to remove the Bronte mythology so as to show the entire family as REAL people.  (I joked at times that the subtitle could be "A Defense of Patrick and Branwell.")  Honestly, I still have some reading to do.  At 1,000ish pages (1,600 when  I set the font at a comfortable size) which are packed with dense info it's not exactly a light or quick read....but I am so very glad I am reading it.  Perhaps when it's done I'll need to write up a more thorough review.  For now what I'll say is that I identified very strongly with the Bronte sisters - especially Charlotte.  Fascinating!

2.  Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (via the Craftlit podcast)  I can't for the life of me remember when I first read Jane Eyre, but I know I've loved it my entire life.  It pops up ever five years or so for a reread, and I always come away with it with something new to ponder.  This time I found myself considering the possibility that young Jane had attachment disorder....makes you think!  Many thanks to Heather Ordover of Craftlit for selecting this book for her podcast.  (And her reader is phenomenal.)

3.  Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (via Craftlit's bonus subscriber material) OK, so I only just read this book for the first time a few years ago after seeing an adaptation on Masterpiece Classic.  My one sentence summary is as follows:  Wuthering Heights is an unpleasant book about unpleasant people.  I appreciate the fact that Craftlit did it as bonus material because there was enough commentary on the work to provide some interesting food for thought.  It'll never be a book that I enjoy reading, though.

4.  The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte (both ebook and audio)  How, oh how, is it that I had never read this book?!?!  I LOVED it!  I will echo what others have's a book that feels surprisingly modern.  Amazing.

5.  Cottage Poems, Patrick Bronte (ebook)  I didn't read many, as I'm (hate to admit this) not much of one for poetry, but I did want to at least sample Papa Bronte's work.  I did...and I don't have anything to say about it.

I initially had the rather lofty goal of reading the entire Bronte catalog this month, but let's face it....that's a LOT of reading, especially when you include that 1,000 page biography! I honestly have not read any of the rest of the Bronte books, I am hereby making it my goal to read one/month until I've completed them all.

Also...I have to admit that having a theme month was a lot of fun!  I won't do it every month - that would just be silly - but I am going to throw a few theme months into my year just to see what happens.  As I happen to have a fabulous idea, February will be children's book month!  It's rather needed after all of the emotionally damaged folk in January....


rubysasha said...

I love that you are attempting all the Bronte's books, I've always had an attachment to Charlotte too, I always imagine the sisters writing and having such a strong attachment with each other. I know that Elizabeth Gaskall (another fabulous writer you should check out - North & South, Cranford, Wives & Daughters being my favourites) wrote a biography on Charlotte. I haven't read it yet, but it's meant to be an interesting read :)

Anonymous said...

Headed to get the biography now :). I love your book suggestions...

Shelda said...

I'm with you about Wuthering Heights! I loved the movie verson that I saw when a teenager, but it's a very romanticized Hollywood version and it appealed to my teenage self.

But when I read the book as an adult, I just thought, "ugh, these people are just really unpleasant!"

Reika from Ravelry said...

I'm also with you on Wuthering Heights -- and I'm an
English teacher who is supposed to love all classics!
More predictably for an English teacher, I maintain a
special place in my heart for Jane Eyre by rereading it
every couple of years. And I *adore* The Tenant of
Wildfell Hall.

I haven't read Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte
Brontë, but I do love North and South!