Take the Bronte Sisters, for Example

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Crystal has been in a love affair since long before I met her. No it’s not another man. Her affair is with books and literature. I knew Crystal was an avid reader the first time I met her. When I introduced myself at that 50’s party in 1975 she talked about her love of literature and why she was an English major. My vain attempts to impress her with bits and pieces I remembered from my high school literature classes sounded thin even to me. She left that night totally unimpressed. I was relatively unphased, figuring I would probably never speak with her alone again. She thought I was a phony and I thought she was too intense.

Today, a number of decades later, I realize the depths of her obsession. Our house contains at least ten book cases full of books. (She won’t agree to this.  She says she has a library and also that she is a writer.) Some have additional books stacked on top. In the attic, there are easily another twenty boxes of books and more in the garage. The best gift I ever gave her was a Kindle. I believe by now she has another sixty plus books on it.

I guess if you are going to have an obsession, or as she would insist passion, literature and book collecting aren’t the worst. Part of being happily married is allowing your spouse to grow in their interests. For nearly forty years, I have listened (although at time less than attentively) about the brilliance of the Bronte sisters. Now it’s your turn.

Crystal’s Corner

I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte when I was in Jr. High School.  My mother made me read it. It is a classic book, a mystery, somewhat Gothic and a love story.  The three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne wrote novels in the 1800’s under pseudonyms.  Emily and Anne had to pay to get their first novels published.  Charlotte’s novel, Jane Eyre, was purchased by a publisher and was very successful from the start.

What is amazing about their books is that they illustrate woman’s history in a fictional form.  In Wuthering Heights, it is understood that Cathy Earnshaw had to marry well if she wanted to have any kind of a decent life.  After her father dies, her brother, a drunk and a tyrant, is losing their fortune.  Emily’s brother had a terrible drinking problem and gambling addiction.  If her brother survived her father, he would inherit everything because at that time period women did not own property or estates. This was one of the reasons why the Bronte sisters wanted to make money.  None of them were married or engaged to be married before they wrote their novels.  Charlotte and Anne had worked in the only professions available to women: teaching and being a governess.  Neither of those professions worked out for them.  As children who were kept away from society other than their father’s parish, they wrote tales for years.  Their poetry was published before the novels. (They had to pay for the first printing.)  The book, although it had gotten excellent reviews, was not successful.

Wuthering Heights was the only novel Emily wrote before she died from TB.  Her oldest sisters had died in childhood from the disease and from being at a boarding school.  The boarding school described in Jane Eyre was similar to the school that Charlotte and her two oldest sisters were sent to when they were children.  It was a brutal school for minister’s daughters.  Their father had never set foot in the school when he took them there and had no idea that they were being starved and abused at the hands of the staff.  Charlotte mainly survived because she was stronger and also did not stay at the school as long as her sisters.  So that put Emily, Anne and Charlotte to be educated at home with books that they read and discussions which they had with their father.

What is interesting about Jane Eyre and Wuthering heights is that the main characters are motherless girls. Jane had also lost her father and was staying with her Aunt and Uncle.  Cathy lost her mother very young and then her father before she was grown up.  The problems with being an orphan or poor relation are emphasized in Charles Dickens books: Oliver, David Copperfield, and others. The Bronte sisters were raised by their Aunt who came to live with them after their mother died.

Many people think that classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are just old dusty outdated books, but they have excellent characterization, plotting and some timeless truths in their pages.  If you haven’t read them or haven’t read them for a long time, try them.  I don’t think you will regret it.  These two classics like Jane Austen’s books have been made into movies and TV series over and over again.  Obviously, even today’s audiences are entertained by their magic.  I know I am.


Not the Bronte sisters, but three pretty special sisters just the same. Unfortunately I’m fresh out of pictures of English moors.

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