Saturday, 3 January 2015

'Always Emily' by Michaela MacColl (****)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to my readers! I apologise profusely for not blogging in such a long time, but life has been very busy and these last two weeks have been a relaxing period amidst all the chaos! I was very fortunate to be shortlisted for an interview at Oxford to read English Language and Literature, so that occupied me for a week, and since then it has been a flurry of catching up with work, a LOT of reading, preparing my creative writing portfolio for Manchester and a whole lot of writing on top of that. Since Christmas is now over (*sob*) and with school commencing on Monday, I thought it was about time that I got up to date with book reviews and blogging and all that lovely stuff. First up is a book review for the novel Always Emily by the wonderful Michaela MacColl. I was sent Always Emily by the lovely folks at Chronicle Books, in exchange for an honest review. Here is the blurb for anyone who's interested:

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle— before someone else gets killed.

Now anyone who knows me well will know that I am a HUGE Brontë fanatic- so much so that I have visited Haworth twice and decided to base my EPQ on the novels and life of Charlotte Brontë. I was very excited when I requested Always Emily because I have never read a modern novel based on the Brontës and was eager yet thoroughly apprehensive to see whether I would like it or not. I wanted to be once again thrust into the world of the dark heathery moors and the dim Parsonage but I didn't want the integral characters of any of the Brontë family to change. I was delighted therefore, once I started reading the novel, and discovered that MacColl had not only been faithful to the characters of the sisters, but had also been convincing in her portrayal of the moors and the day to day life of the Brontës, encapsulating me again in their dark, enchanting world.

Predominantly, I was worried that the story itself would not be of a high calibre, and the novel would purely be based upon the Brontës, thus turning out to be like one of many history and literary works that have been written about the famous literary family in the last century. However, MacColl's tale is an uniquely gripping and enticing read, permitting any reader, whether an avid reader of the Brontës or not, to be lost in this enchanting story. In fact, Always Emily might indeed appeal to a generation that perhaps has not picked up a Brontë novel before, and set them off on that journey they might not have otherwise started. 

The unique characters MacColl integrated into Always Emily are of a furiously high creative standard and help drive the novel forward, as well as developing the protagonists of Charlotte and Emily so that the reader understands them better. The dialogue also between Charlotte and Emily is so realistic and faithful to their characters as told to us by Elizabeth Gaskell and others, which makes the story to be of an incredible quality. The themes of romance, mystery and family drama mixed in with the harrowing world of the Brontës makes for an incredible story for all ages. There was obviously an enormous amount of passion and thorough research that went into this novel, and I could not recommend it enough!

Buy Always Emily here:

Check out Michaela MacColl here:

Check out my trip to Haworth here:

Until next time!

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