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The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan

The Taste of Sorrow (2009)

by Jude Morgan

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2341371,430 (3.93)50
  1. 10
    Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael (Shuffy2)
    Shuffy2: Both books are about the lives of the Bronte sisters- the ups and downs on the road to publishing their now famous works.
  2. 00
    Dark Quartet by Lynne Reid Banks (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: Both books explore the lives of the Bronte family in a compelling manner.

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"It’s because I’m all wrong that I have to find something right. And I found it here, in this room. We all did, didn’t we? We found something that alters the conditions of life. You write. You write yourself out of it, you write it out, you write it right.” ( p. 258)

Like many other readers, I suspect, I first read the books by the Brontes in young adulthood, and I’ve returned to them from time to time, with fresh eyes, over the years. While I’ve never read a formal biography of any of the sisters, I know a few basic details about each of them. Given their talent and the seemingly endless tragedies in their lives, including the fact that not one of the six Bronte children made it to the age of forty, I’m not surprised that a mythology has arisen around them, as it tends to do around gifted, heroic, or beautiful people who are cut down before their time. With the Brontes, you can't help but wonder: what if fate had been kinder?

In The Taste of Sorrow, Jude Morgan has written a moving biographical novel about this iconic, literary family. It is a sort of ensemble piece that begins with the harrowing death of their mother when the eldest of the six children is less than ten years of age; it follows their story (or stories, more precisely) through to the time of Charlotte’s marriage. Morgan writes in the present tense and flexibly shifts point of view between Charlotte, Emily, and Anne—mostly keeping to the third person, but sometimes relating characters' innermost thoughts using the first person point of view. Their brother, Branwell, and father, Patrick, figure prominently in the narrative, but they are always presented from the outside, through the eyes of one of the three sisters.

Morgan’s fine writing (which does not adhere strictly to 19th-century style, rhythm, or idiom) and considerable descriptive powers transport the reader back in time. Because this is a fairly big book, which I read over several days, I had a sense of being with the characters, knowing them in a way I hadn’t before, and even of grieving with and for them.

Since I haven't read any scholarly biographies of the Brontes, I am unable to comment on the liberties Morgan may have taken with the biographical material. His characterization of the three sisters--the serious, self-conscious, approval-seeking Charlotte; the taciturn, fierce, elemental Emily; and the gentle, temperate, slightly bland Anne--is fairly consistent with my previously formed impressions of them. Even though there were no particular surprises in the book (aside from some information about Charlotte's husband), reading it was a rewarding experience, both intellectually and emotionally. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Jun 29, 2017 |
Unputdownable story of the Brontes,
By sally tarbox on 18 November 2016

The Brontes are like Henry VIII - you know their lives inside out, you've read biographies, watched TV documentaries - yet you continue to find their story utterly fascinating, told from different angles, in different ways. So Jude Morgan certainly has great material to begin with - but what a wonderful novel he has crafted from it.
Told in the present continuous (something I don't always enjoy, but it works superbly here), the novel opens with their mother on her death bed, about to leave her five daughters and one son to the care of their rather dour father. In beautifully envisaged scenes and conversations, the author follows them through their wretched school at Cowan Bridge; their secret world and early writings, their various teaching posts, Brussels, Branwell's self-destruction.... He writes from the point of view of various characters, their personalities an amalgamation of historical research and the surely autobiographical hints in the Brontes' works.
Such a brilliant read that I have ordered Mr Morgan's other novels (based on true-life). ( )
  starbox | Nov 17, 2016 |
A novel of the Bronte family, from the children's childhoods to their deaths. It's told in a beautifully elliptical manner. I got the impression of grim, narrow lives with loads of tragedy and lack of opportunities--but also the shining, open vastness of Emily, Charlotte and Anne's imaginations. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This is a thoroughly intense novel...the writing style of the Brontes is applied to their lives, emotions, rampant thoughts. It's not a book you can read while sleepy....Each paragraph is dense, filled with stream-of-consciousness thoughts, spoken and unspoken words, several people's feelings and reactions. The breadth of understanding of the human psyche in general and of these humans' psyches in particular is amazing...obviously a great deal of research has gone into this book.

I think it took me longer to read this book than usual, partly because I got too involved in the characters' lives and sometimes needed a break from the intensity of their quiet lives...but I loved it at times. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes; (2 1/2*)

In 1821 Haworth, Yorkshire Maria Bronte, mother of five and wife to a Vicar, dies. Her milk-toast husband Patrick sends his oldest four daughters to a cheap, abominable boarding school but Maria and Elizabeth come home to die from consumption. His son Branwell becomes an addict while his three remaining daughters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, go out to work at teaching in schools for young ladies & as governesses. The sisters are unhappy away from home and so return and begin writing poetry, essays and eventually novels for which they use pseudonyms. They dote on their father and brother but by 1855 all five of Maria's offspring are dead none having reached the age of forty.

In this Bronte fictional account, in spite of the title, the focus is on all six siblings and their father and not mainly on Charlotte and Emily.

It read like a Victorian soap opera and while I was able to finish it I must admit that I was a bit disappointed, not in the writing, so much as in the content. Still and all I am sure that many will and have loved this book. I simply was not one of them. ( )
4 vote rainpebble | Apr 12, 2014 |
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For Ann, with thanks
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"Oh, my children. Oh, God, my poor children."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Alternate titles: The Taste of Sorrow and Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontë Sisters.
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Book description
Charlotte. Emily. Anne. The Brontë sisters - the drama, the passion, and a story that lives for ever...

Once upon a time there were three sisters, bound by love and suffering, growing up in wild isolation in a lonely house on the moor. Their story will astonish you: their passionate, dangerous closeness; their struggle against the world; their determination to rise above the fates of their parents and their other lost sisters, to become more than the world ever thought they could be. You don’t know their story, but you think they do. They were the Brontës.

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312642733, Paperback)

From an obscure country parsonage came three extraordinary sisters, who defied the outward bleakness of their lives to create the most brilliant literary work of their time. Now, in an astonishingly daring novel by the acclaimed Jude Morgan, the genius of the haunted Brontës is revealed and the sisters are brought to full, resplendent life: Emily, who turned from the world to the greater temptations of the imagination; gentle Anne, who suffered the harshest perception of the stifling life forced upon her; and the brilliant, uncompromising, and tormented Charlotte, who longed for both love and independence, and learned their ultimate price. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:21 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

From an obscure country parsonage came three extraordinary sisters, who defied the outward bleakness of their lives to create the most brilliant literary work of their time.

» see all 5 descriptions

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