August 09, 2009

The Taste of Sorrow - Jude Morgan


I did not know a great deal about the lives of the Bronte family before reading The Taste of Sorrow. I had read (and loved) Daphne by Justine Picardie which reflected on the family - and in particular the only son and brother, Branwell, and one of my favourite books of all time is Jane Eyre, but apart from that I was a little in the dark.

I acknowledge that The Taste of Sorrow is fiction and is Morgan's interpretation and understanding of what may have occurred within the family but I really feel (don't ask me how!) as though the author has captured an essence of this famous family that rings true and is totally believable.

The book starts with the death of the young Bronte children's mother, and as such sets up a constant theme of the family story - death, and the sorrow that accompanies it is never far away. From this early loss the children are brought together - they become connected almost as one;

The children obediently fold their hands in prayer - they all know how to do that. Still they do not range themselves. Rather they draw together in a peculiarly precise huddle, as if they stand on a rock, just big enough for them, above an encircling sea.

Morgan creates the sense of interdependence amongst the siblings, while at the same time clearly demonstrating their individual personalities, perfectly. Throughout the book I had a strong image of each of the children growing together - even when physically apart they were connected through the creations of their imagination - and the loss that is felt when one is taken away (in actuality or metaphorically) is acute.

I found the writing throughout absolutely stunning - without wanting to sound cliched - the writing was like a beautiful piece of music - it flowed and carried you along with it. In paricular I loved reading the sections where the inner minds and outer thoughts of the character's were portrayed:

Branwell asked: 'What was it like there? Maria would never really say'.

It was a beautiful day to be on the moors. A skylark invited location somewhere above, a glinting needle of song in a haystack of blue. The turf yielded fragrantly; bees rode the warm air. But Charlotte only had to think a moment, and the cold doors clanged around her. Branwell watched her face.

'You couldn't get near the fire,' she said at last. 'The big girls shut you out so. You hung about, hoping... But mostly you had to imagine yourself warm. You had to have the fire inside'.

I tried a new method of reading with this book. I had felt so flat and despondent with my reading lately that I decided to just slow down and concentrate on one book at a time - and I chose a wonderful book to initiate this method! This book captured me completely - I didn't want to focus on anything else for fear of missing some of the magic in this book. I now want to go back and read Jane Eyre and the other Bronte novels - I will be reading them through new, more informed, lenses.

17 comments:

Holly said...

Wow. This one sounds remarkable.

Karen said...

Hi Holly - that is definitely how I would describe it - just wonderful!

Serena said...

wow this sounds fascinating

farmlanebooks said...

I have heard lots of great things about this book and really want to read it, but am ashamed to admit that I've not read many Bronte books. Does this give away/require knowledge of the plots of these books.

Karen said...

Hi Serena - definitely fascinating - it hooked me in early and kept me there.

Hi Jackie - I don't think you need to have any in depth knowledge of the Bronte books to enjoy this one. I had only read Jane Eyre and I did fine! The book only really concentrates on the novels very late in the piece - and then it does give you information about why the books are being written.

Danielle said...

I'll be watching for this to be published in the US. I've only read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and only have the briefest knowledge of their lives, but sometimes fiction is a nice way to start and then follow up with more factual material. I also still need to read Daphne...

savidgereads said...

This book left me wanting to lock myself up in a romm with enough food for a month and only the entire Bronte works to keep me compnay its truly wonderful am so glad you loved it too.

Karen said...

Hi Danielle - you made me remember that I read Wuthering Heights last year (I kept thinking the only Bronte book I had read was Jane Eyre! Possibly because I love JE but really didn't like WH). I thought Daphne was great.

Hi savidgereads - I know what you mean! I felt in a similar way!

Tara said...

Lovely review. I really want to read this one.

Gondal-girl said...

loved your review, I thought it was amazing too

Karen said...

Hi Tara - I would definitely recommend this one - a wonderful read.

Hi Gondal-girl - it was great wasn't it?? have you read any other fiction about the Bronte's that you would recommend?

Gondal-girl said...

Taste was the best so far, but there is also Lynne Reid Banks Dark Quartet and The Brontes went to Woolworths ( which I am reading right now). Plus a picture book that I have somewhere...

do you know any?

Karen said...

Hi Gondal-girl - thanks for these suggestions. I'm afraid I don't know of any others but I am pretty sure BronteBlog has some listings of some.

Samantha said...

I still have Morgan's earlier novel The Passion to read and now I want to go right out and buy this one now!

Karen said...

Hi Samantha - I would definitely recommend it - I loved Passion too.

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