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The three Brontë sisters had a dark secret. They wrote stories.From San Francisco Chronicle:
In early Victorian England, this was considered unladylike and downright unseemly. So naturally they kept their vice cloistered, a conspiracy wonderfully dramatized in a new PBS production titled To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters.
Premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, To Walk Invisible follows the delicate path of Charlotte (Finn Atkins), Emily (Chloe Pirrie) and Anne (Charlie Murphy) Brontë up to the point when they finally could stand it no longer and outed themselves.
The drama therefore stops just short of its most tragic turn: that both Emily and Anne died shortly thereafter, apparently of tuberculosis. Emily was 30, Anne 29. [...]
To Walk Invisible paints the Brontë family as tight-knit and reasonably well off for the times in which they lived. Their father Patrick (Jonathan Pryce) was a caring if somewhat distracted preacher.
Their mother died when they were young, and their only surviving sibling, Branwell (Adam Nagaitis), was a drunkard and a roustabout.
Charlotte, Anne and Emily became the de facto caretakers for the family, and the custom of the day said that would be their full-time and only employment.
I don’t think so, the Brontë sisters said. [...]
In the larger scope, To Walk Invisible fits well with the tone of the stories the sisters wrote. Those stories don’t shock us the way they shocked some of their Victorians readers, but we see in their lives some of the ambivalence, challenges and brooding darkness.
Wainwright’s direction captures a period feel in both visual and logistical details. It’s quite clear that the early deaths of all three sisters were caused in part by primitive medical practices and the lack of what we would consider basic sanitation. To Walk Invisible illustrates a world where that was simply how it was.
There’s a fair amount of darkness in this story, because the lives it chronicles were not easy. There’s also a fair amount of humor. Mostly there’s admiration for three women who in a very short time accomplished things their world saw no reason to think they could. (David Hinckley)
“Masterpiece” and the BBC could have made a whole miniseries on the Brontë sisters, but they’ve done the next best thing, which is to allow Sally Wainwright to write and direct a 90-minute film about the 19th century authors, which will air on KQED on Sunday, March 26. It is, of course, difficult to think of “Wuthering Heights” or “Jane Eyre” as especially scandalous, but they were in Victorian England, as was the novel by Charlotte’s (Finn Atkins) and Emily’s (Chloe Pirrie) sister, Anne (Charlie Murphy), “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.” It wasn’t just the subject matter but that the authors were — gasp! — women.From The Boston Globe:
The real scandal in the Brontë family was the women’s brother, Branwell (Adam Nagaitis), a ne’er-do-well, gambler, alcoholic and drug user who pushed the family’s patience to the limit until even the patriarch, the Rev. Patrick Brontë (Jonathan Pryce), came close to slamming the door in his face.
The script is only one of the stars of the production. Wainwright weaves samples of the women’s writing, including poetry, into the dialogue, and creates distinct characters in each of the three sisters, not to mention their father and brother. It may frustrate us that the women’s lives are refracted so much by two men in their family, but that only underscores the status of women in Victorian society and, in turn, why it was so brash for them to become novelists — even if they use male pen names at first.
The film is graced by lovely performances from the main cast in particular. The work by the actresses in the lead roles is so good, you can easily forget that they don’t look at all as though they could be related. (David Wiegand)
“Masterpiece” doesn’t get more “Masterpiece”-y than Sunday’s movie, “To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters.” So those of you who hear an English accent and lapse into Monty Python, who hated “Downton Abbey” without ever seeing it, who watched “Clueless” to bone up for that senior class on Jane Austen’s “Emma,” who hear Laura Linney’s voice and reflexively raise your hand for bathroom permission, steer clear. This one-off “Masterpiece” is well-stocked with tea and melodrama, as it tells the story of one of literary history’s most important times and places: the Brontë household from 1845 to 1848.From Fine Books Magazine (and uh oh, the mumbling paranoia seems to have crossed the Atlantic too!):
During that period, sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, each in her 20s, pseudonymously published “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights,” and “Agnes Grey,” respectively. There’s so much rich material bound up in that remarkable fact, and writer-director Sally Wainwright, the creator of “Last Tango in Halifax” and “Happy Valley,” often succeeds in doing justice to it all. Wainwright gives us three women reunited in their small hometown village who know the only way to print is to mask themselves as men — as Currer (Charlotte), Ellis (Emily), and Acton (Anne) Bell — while at the same time living in the domestic grip of a brother, wannabe poet and painter Branwell, who’s lost in an ugly spiral of addiction, bruised ego, and love gone wrong.
Interestingly, Wainwright doesn’t bother too much about the actual writing of the novels, or of the sisters’ fictional capacities. She doesn’t strain to dissect their imaginations by linking their books directly to their lives. [...]
But the guts of “To Walk Invisible” are about the sisters’ claustrophobic daily lives, their occasional battles — such as when Emily (Chloe Pirrie) learns that Charlotte (Finn Atkins) has read her hidden manuscript — and their suppressed resentment at having to hide their gender in order to succeed. They watch in sorrow and anger as Branwell spits in the face of all his advantages as a man — and as their father, the Rev. Patrick Brontë (Jonathan Pryce), defends and supports him nonetheless. Well-played by Adam Nagaitis, Branwell is an unstoppable force of torment, drama, and financial desperation in the family. At a certain point, though, his self-destruction mobilizes the sisters into pursuing publication, in order to bring in money.
Much as I liked “To Walk Invisible,” I did find a few awkward pieces of exposition, about the times and the Brontë family history, stuffed into the dialogue — a problem that often afflicts historical pieces. [...] Also, despite the spare look of the movie, there are a few moments of melodramatic excess whose volume could have been turned down a notch or two. Add to that a scene at the tail-end of the movie that is unforgivable as it breaks the story’s spell.
But there’s so much more to like here, not least of all the five strong Brontë performances, tight camera work that abets their intimacy, and writing and direction that refuse to romanticize these people and their circumstances. Wainwright never pushes us to interpret the Brontës’ story as one of nascent feminism; more valuably, she delivers the bleak tale with all its tragedy and redemption and lets us find the meaning on our own. (Matthew Gilbert)
Historical dramas too often bait viewers with pretty gowns and lush landscapes, so it’s refreshing here to see some realism both in content (Branwell’s abusive alcoholism), scenery (from dirty interior walls to muddy outside lanes), and costumes that are plain and true to the people wearing them. The moors are there too, don’t worry. Viewer’s tip: The tones are hushed in many scenes, so turn up the volume. (Rebecca Rego Barry)From aNewsCafe:
Filmed on location in Yorkshire, we see the environment that produced these stories, the moors that would feature so heavily in Emily’s Wuthering Heights. It’s a gorgeous production, one that takes you away into another time and place.WUFT sums the whole thing up as
To Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters will please anyone who is a fan of the Brontes, and anyone interested in the development of three literary legends. (Chad Grayson)
Learn how, against all odds, the Brontës were recognized in a male-dominated 19th-century world. (swagner)Coincidentally, this columnist from Tulsa World writes in praise of this kind of show brought to the US by PBS.
It’s a hard call deciding which show on PBS has been my favorite.Writer John Boyne has selected his favourite books for Sunday Times (South Africa) and among them is
Without a doubt, all involve a British accent. It’s that lush landscape, foreign-sounding voices and Jane Eyre-like storylines. It was a good book come to life while living in rural Oklahoma. (Ginnie Graham)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. This taught me how the hero of a novel does not have to be likable, he or she just has to be interesting. (Michele Magwood)Margaret Atwood herself has written about the life of Canadian author Gabrielle Roy for Maclean's.
As in Wuthering Heights, and indeed as in the True Romance magazines popular in the 1940s, she has two suitors. One of them is cast in the Linton mould—a cut above Florentine socially, idealistic, and a nice guy, but not a man to whom she is drawn sexually. The other is a quasi-Byronic, cynical, passion-inspiring no-goodnik, like Heathcliff. Here the plots diverge, for in Wuthering Heights the no-goodnik is devoted to the heroine, while in Bonheur d’Occasion he has his way with her and then skips town.Jane Eyre is one of '10 More Books To Read Before You Die' selected by #AmReading.
5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëGraphoMania (Italy) recommends reading Jane Eyre when one is feeling depressed.
Orphaned and penniless but strong and determined, Jane is one of literature’s most unforgettable heroines. Intelligent, passionate, and with a complex inner life, she fights to express her individuality in a society where both her class and gender work against her. The resulting story is rich, romantic, and eminently satisfying.
Se cercate una storia con una donna forte, capace di non farsi abbattere e vittime di una sfortuna dietro l’altra allora ricordatevi che c’è sempre Jane Eyre di Charlotte Brontë. (Nymeria) (Translation)The Washington Post features the book This Long Pursuit: Reflections of a Romantic Biographer by Richard Holmes.
In 2001, Holmes tells us, he quite hesitantly agreed to offer a course on biographical writing at the University of East Anglia. As he recalls in “Teaching,” he initially put together a list of 27 classics of English-language biography, including John Aubrey’s “Brief Lives,” James Boswell’s “The Life of Samuel Johnson,” Williams Hazlitt’s “The Spirit of the Age,” Elizabeth Gaskell’s “Life of Charlotte Brontë,” Lytton Strachey’s “Eminent Victorians” and Richard Ellmann’s “James Joyce.” (Michael Dirda)Corriere della Sera (Italy) mentions the Brontës' use of pseudonyms. On AnneBrontë.org, Nick Holland wrote yesterday about 'Haworth Sanitation And The Babbage Report', coinciding with World Water Day.