21 September 2023
Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
Isolated from society, Emily Brontë and her siblings spend their days inventing elaborate fictional realms or roaming the wild moors above their family home in Yorkshire. When the time comes for them to venture out into the world to earn a living, each of them struggles to adapt, but for Emily the change is catastrophic. Torn from the landscape to which she has become so passionately bound, she is simply unable to function.
To the outside world, Emily Brontë appears taciturn and unexceptional, but beneath the surface her mind is in a creative ferment. A violent phenomenon is about to burst forth that will fuse her imaginary world with the landscape of her beloved Yorkshire and change the literary world forever.
There’s something rather special about Fifteen Wild Decembers for not only does the story transport us to the isolated Haworth parsonage where the Brontë’s made their home but it also gives us huge insight into Emily Brontë’s tragically short life. Emily’s emotional attachment to the moors and wild spaces, the lure of home whenever she is away from it and the visceral connection she has to the land bring such a powerful sense of her personality that it quite literally took my breath away. Emily’s life was so short and yet the mark she left on our literary world is huge, this re-imagining of her life is such a lovely tribute to her and one I am sure will appeal enormously to Brontë enthusiasts.
The story flows beautifully, it’s gently done, but with such a powerful presence that each of the siblings, their anguish, indecision and inability to find their place in the world is bolstered only by their strength of character. Having visited the Haworth parsonage on a number of occasions as soon as you enter through the front door there remains a definite sense of the Brontë presence and this brooding nature comes across so well in this lovely story, I felt as if I was truly seeing the world through Emily’s eyes, grieving with her in sadness and feeling her turmoil in a world she didn’t always want to understand. We know that Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë had tremendous imagination and yet sharing their work with a London publisher wasn’t easy however, thankfully for us someone was prepared to give Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell the opportunity to reach a wider audience and the rest, as they say, is history…
Evocative, beautiful and gloriously lyrical, Fifteen Wild Decembers, brings Emily Brontë to life in such a profound and beautiful way that I have no hesitation in making this my Book of the Month for November.
About the Author
Karen Powell grew up in Rochester, Kent. She studied English Literature at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and now lives in York with her husband and daughter.
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