21 April 2011

Charlotte Bronte

Today is the birthday of Charlotte Bronte. She was born in Thornton, Yorkshire, England in 1816. Her father was a minister and she was the third of six children. I am currently re-reading Jane Eyre (again), so this seems telling for me. Even though I know how the story is going to turn out, it's still so heart-breaking. I'm at the point where Jane Eyre is teaching at her little school in Morton. So. very. sad.
But when I think of Charlotte Bronte's life, it's also full of sadness. Her mother died of cancer when she was five years old and she and her two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth were sent to a horrible boarding school (Lowood, anyone?), both Maria and Elizabeth contracted TB and died in 1825. Charlotte worked as a governess for families in Yorkshire and lived on the moors.
Jane Eyre was published in 1847 and seems obviously to reflect on her time in boarding school and her time as a governess. It was published under the name of Currer Bell, a name used along with others, Ellis and Acton Bell, when she and her sisters published a book of poetry in 1846.
Unfortunately, shortly after Jane Eyre was published, her other siblings died. In 1854 she married her father's curate and became pregnant soon following, but died of complications to the pregnancy in 1855.
It seems like such a sad life to me. Horrible boarding school, tuberculosis, siblings dying, being a governess. How did she manage to write about such love and hope? How did she write about such fidelity to ones self? It makes Jane Eyre, the novel, seem so much more than I ever considered. Knowing the back story makes it all the more painful, but at the same time more wonderful. 

17 April 2011

Silent in the Grave - Deanna Raybourn

Summary: To say that Lady Julia met Nicholas Brisbane over her husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward -- it should be noted -- was still twitching upon the floor. 
Lady Julia Grey is a London aristocrat with a wildly eccentric family and a husband she does not love. When her husband dies, she discovers that Edward was the target of menacing notes. Enlisting the help of detective Nicholas Brisbane, Julia begins to sleuth for clues to unravel the mystery of Edward's death. As she does so, she discovers that she has more in common with her unconventional family than she would like to admit, and also finds herself increasingly attracted to Nicholas, a man with a few mysteries of his own. (Source: Bookreporter.com)

Comments: This is the first book written by Ms. Raybourn that I have read and I must say, I will be reading others in the future. It's narrative is first person, which I enjoy, but which unfortunately many writers cannot manage. Ms. Raybourn does the first person very well. The author has created some real characters with Lady Julia Grey, her iconic father, Earl March, her older sister Portia and most especially with Nicholas Brisbane. The reference to Henry Dashwood and the Hellfire club I found most interesting as I had just read about that in another book of fiction, Suspense and Sensibility, or, First Impressions Revisited,  by Carrie Bebris with the notation that a Mr. Francis Dashwood (1708-1781), did indeed exist, as did the Hell-Fire Club. And we think the victorian age is so prim and proper - what an illusion.
I am really looking forward to reading more of Ms. Raybourn's works in the future. In fact, the next one in the series is on its way now.