Today’s needull is a book review of “Charlotte Brontë: A Life”. The year 2016 was her bicentenary year. She lived all of 38 years but her works are considered classics in English literature.
In the end, I’m not sure who Harman’s Brontë really is. She’s not Gaskell’s sad, sweet martyr, she’s not the caustic, love-hungry heroine of Lyndall Gordon’s 1994 biography and she’s not the neurotic, hypocritical woman who stalks the pages of Juliet Barker’s group biography, The Brontës (published in 1994 and updated in 2010). Harman unforgettably conjures up Lucy Snowe, the protagonist of Villette, as ‘a disturbing, hyper-sensitive alter-ego, a ticking bomb of emotions’, but she never uses such language when describing Brontë directly. So, although this book is clear and shrewd, plainly and crisply written, it makes me wish for more of the expression of the powerful feelings Claire Harman admires in Brontë’s writing.