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Arts & Literature

Chasing Emily: A Review of ‘Emily’s Ghost’

Author: Jennifer Holberg, Professor of English
Books & Culture online
Posted on: Sep 22, 2009

Emily Brontė hears dead people.

Or at least she does according to the latest entry in the Brontė family literary sweepstakes, Denise Giardina’s Emily’s Ghost. To be fair, Emily only gets all Sixth Sense-y in the beginning and ending sections of Giardina’s novel (somehow, I guess, the otherworldly presences just aren’t as convenient or necessary in the vast middle chapters of the novel). And lest the reader believe that these voices are evidence of schizophrenia or a matter of purely imaginative inner dialogue (the latter a possibility that Anne Brontė raises at one point in the novel), Giardina has her Emily affirm quite forcefully the reality of her auditory companions. What’s more, Giardina’s Emily is ardently and actively political (a Chartist, no less); strongly and nobly rebellious against everything well-established in early Victorian society; and the participant in a passionate, if unconsummated, romance. Throw in a pinch of plot elements taken from Jane Eyre and a dash of Jo March-style hair-chopping, and you begin to get the idea of the portrait of Emily Brontė this book gives us.

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