charlotte brontë

    Kieron's Comic, Brontë's Book

    One of the comics I read is Kieron Gillen’s1 Die, which is about a group of people who get sucked into a fantasy world. The world is based on a role-playing game — or at least, it seems to be at first. The other night I started the latest issue, 9. Unexpectedly — but not surprisingly — Charlotte Brontë turned up as a character (or maybe not, but let’s run with it). The story was about how she and her siblings had created complex fantasy worlds in part as stories for their toy soldiers. And maybe the world of Die is based in part on those.

    Imagine my surprise, then, when I woke the next day to hear on the radio news that a tiny book — “no bigger than a matchbox” — written by Charlotte, was being auctioned in France. It is filled with stories of the fantasy worlds created by her and her siblings.

    The book has been bought by the Brontë Society. It will be kept in the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where it was created.

    Two completely unrelated events, of course, but interesting how things collide.

    1. He seems not to have website of his own, bizarrely, but he has a Tumblr, and a newsletter

    We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver (Books 2007, 2)

    Wow. This is an amazing piece of work. The mother of a high-school killer writes letters to her husband, describing Kevin's life as she experienced it. I can't write a lot about it without getting heavy on the spoilers, but I will just say this.

    When I was a few pages in I was getting a strong sense of this absence of a voice: the husband was not to be heard. But then I thought two things. First, all epistolary novels are like that to some extent; though it is possible for the letter-writer to refer to things their correspondent has written in return.

    Second, it occurred to me that Shriver, by excluding the man’s voice, might have been making a point about the relative exclusion of women’s voices in literature. In other words, the way I was feeling might be akin to how Jean Rhys must have felt when she read Jane Eyre.

    I don’t, now, think that she was particularly trying to do that, though the effect of the early chapters is still there.

    I’ll say no more for fear of spoilers, except: highly recommended.