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The Further Secret Adventures of Charlotte Brontë
Laura Joh Rowland
Release: May 13, 2010
I still continue to get on very comfortably and quietly in London--in the way I like--seeing rather things than persons--. Being allowed to have my own choice of sights this time--I selected rather the real than the decorative side of Life--I have been over two prisons andcient & modern--Newgate and Pentonville--also the Bank, the Exchange, the Foundling Hospital--and to-day if all be well--I go with Dr. Forbes to see Bethlehem Hospital.Rowland moves the action back to 1851 and seems to wonder, 'what if Charlotte had visited some of those places but not as sight-seer?'. As with her previous installment Laura Joh Rowland is careful about keeping her feet firmly on the ground in between the otherwise unthinkable -and yet incredibly entertaning - flights of fancy. She even includes - although moved to Bedlam instead of Newgate prison - this episode recalled by George Smith:
At Newgate she rapidly fixed her attention on an individual prisoner. There was a poor girl with an interesting face, and an expression of the deepest misery. She had, I believe, killed her illegitimate child. Miss Brontë walked up to her, took her hand, and began to talk to her. She was, of course, quickly interrupted by the prison warder with the formula, 'Visitors are not allowed to speak to the prisoners'.The sturdy springboard mentioned above is indeed the result of Laura Joh Rowland including as many real people and factual events such as the above as possible. And she moves with ease in Victorian times: conventions, events, behaviour and all sorts of other important background information are seemingly effortlessly whipped up.