The Brontës by Anna Doherty

Published By Hatchette Children’s Group

Book Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

I’m unbelievably happy to finally get the chance to review this one. It’s certainly different to what I normally do in the sense that it’s not a novel, or even a collection of fairytales or poetry. The Fantastically Feminist (and totally true) Story Of The Astonishing Authors: The Brontës By Anna Doherty is beautiful, not only when looking at its contents, but with its design as a wide, short book with a certain weight to it gives it a feeling that is reminiscent to a scrapbook. There’s something subconsciously comforting about its design as it feels like the sort of book one might fill with pictures of and notes on loved ones, which in a way is exactly what it is.

The purpose of the book is to look at the lives and work of the Brontë sisters and tell their story in a way that is comprehensive and welcoming to children. Even though I expect it was aimed at children younger than I am, I was absolutely delighted to read it and found the way it tackled the complexities of the time and their struggles clever and worthy of their legacy. Issues they navigated through such as high levels of misogyny and family deaths were not distracted from with more pleasant things as is common when talking about authors of that time, but were handled with eloquence and grace. I think the introduction of feminism in mainstream media to children is absolutely vital and seeing it in so many books nowadays has been exciting for me.

Aside from handling and introducing important topics to young people, there was of course the main theme of the Brontë sisters and their work. I learned a lot from this book that I would never have known about them prior, and I think learning a little about an author can bring you a long way in sympathising and connecting with their work which can make a book that much more interesting.

There was also a very healthy approach to the books the sister’s wrote and bringing them to attention of children. I feel that a lot of the time when faced with books that are classics or just a little older, it can be difficult to get children to find an interest in them but this does it so much better than I could have imagined. In my experience, books of a different time are rarely as scary and difficult to understand as many of people first believe. The emotions and messages that are portrayed in a good book will, by putting a little effort into it, transcend time and capture any reader. I think that this book is crucial to show to children, and for someone of any age to read, who loves the Brontës’ works, or is just looking to try something a little different.