cover image Anne Brontë Reimagined

Anne Brontë Reimagined

Adelle Hay. Saraband, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-912235-64-3

Hay, an academic at the University of Loughborough, debuts with a casual introduction to the life and work of Anne Brontë and her evolving reputation. Hay makes a case that despite early accounts that cemented her as the “frail” and “weak” sister and a lesser talent among the three, Anne “deserves to be regarded as a great writer.” Though eager to avoid the “Charlotte-as-bitch” trap, Hay notes the negative effect Anne’s sister Charlotte had on her work’s reception: Charlotte’s “Biographical Notice” contained a misunderstanding of Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, for example, that influenced critics. Hays also examines her subject’s embrace of the unorthodox doctrine of Universal Salvation, which made readers “uncomfortable,” and her desire in her novels to tell “unpalatable truths,” which resulted in her work being labeled “coarse” and “brutal.” With skilled close readings of her work, Hays convincingly argues that Brontë’s writing on loneliness and society’s expectations for women remain relevant, but a few of Hay’s positions are a little tenuous, notably that Brontë is similar to musician Sufjan Stevens, and the comparison of Brontë’s thoughts on goodness to the sitcom The Good Place. Even so, this accessible introduction to a “misunderstood” writer is a fine place to start for readers new to her work. (July)