The Courtship and Marriage of
Endeavor Press Sep 2015
Kindle ed, 233 pages
Memoir, Biography, Romance, Historical
The romantic author Charlotte Brontë was consumed by love. To show the desire for true love, she once said, a person should even be willing to be kicked by a horse.
Using her literature and correspondence, and the words of her friend and biographer Elizabeth Gaskell, Brian Wilks portrays Charlotte as a romantic waiting for her Mr. Right. The man she chose, after spurning three men’s proposals, was Arthur Nicholls, a curate in her village where her father was the parish priest. They married in 1854.
With a critical and scholarly eye, Wilks documents Charlotte as a woman prone to depression and isolation, and who often wrote her own life experiences into her prose.
She had suffered the unrequited love of her teacher, Heger, when she had studied in Belgium and was devastated by the death of her brother and sisters from consumption. Her father was unwell and she longed to escape the gloom of Haworth in Yorkshire.
Each letter lays bare her doubts, and as an illumination of the times, it is perhaps paralleled only by other women authors, including her sister Emily. To read a woman’s private thoughts and feelings is an emotional experience for the contemporary reader.
At the same time, and without any recourse to his letters or writing, we have as complete and as sympathetic a portrait of Arthur Nicholls as we can get. He was determined to marry Charlotte, even resigning as curate.
‘Charlotte in Love’ goes beyond mere biography, instead of acting as a love story which was so brief in its conclusion, Charlotte dying within a year of her marriage to Arthur. It is, writes Wilks, ‘the story of Charlotte’s growing understanding of the nature of human love and devotion as she experienced them, and of a relationship that grew from acquaintanceship to friendship, to admiration and respect, through sympathy and understanding to love.’
About the Author:
Brian Wilks is the best-selling author of The Brontës and Jane Austen and was Vice-president of The Brontë Society.
My Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book by the author's representative. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
This book is supposed to be about the courtship and marriage of Charlotte Brontë. It is, however, her life story. And it is done in very fussy, stylized writing, as if to be a period piece perhaps of Brontë's own time. It does a very thorough job of relating the events of Charlotte's life, buried as it is in the oft-repeated phrases about her father and other such things. "Patrick Brontë was now in his seventy-sixth year, and once more losing his sight and in poor general health, found himself in a state of confusion and uncertainty." I should have taken a count of how many times the author made such a reference to the parson's health. And possibly the references to how empty the parsonage was without her sisters and brother. And we mustn't forget Branwell's alcohol and opium abuse. And what wonderful authors her sisters were. Some things should only be said so many times.
Miss Brontë's correspondence is used extensively in the books. I truly enjoyed reading what she actually wrote to her friends. It is wonderful that so much of her informal writing has survived.
About half of this book could have been eliminated by focusing on the subject as stated in the title and using a more straightforward writing style. There were many good points in the second half of the book, but they were lost in the fluff.
The book was very well researched and had excellent details included that made some parts of the book very interesting. With a change of title, this should have been a biography.
"Mr. Brontë's letter would prepare you for the sad intelligence I have to communicate. Our dear Charlotte is no more. She died last night of exhaustion. For the last two or three weeks, we had become very uneasy about her, but it was not until Sunday evening that it became apparent that her sojourn with us was likely to be short. We intend to bury her on Wednesday morning."
ABN to Ellen Nussey, 31 March 1855
This is the note Charlotte's husband wrote to her friend when she died. This is the way they wrote then, and this is a man brought low by grief. It is not the style in which to write a memoir or biography.