Always Emily by Michaela MacColl, published by Chronicle Books on 8th April 2014
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.
This book reminded me why I love the Bronte sisters so much. Their lives are absolutely fascinating and Michaela MacColl has done a superb job of incorporating biographical facts with fictional events to create a story which provides both mystery and romance.
The story focuses mainly on Charlotte and Emily Bronte, the two older sisters, although their brother Branwell and their father both feature. Charlotte is definitely my favourite Bronte. She is torn between her practical and artistic sides and feels a great sense of responsibility to look after her siblings. The book opens with her elder sister being buried and this has a huge impact on the decisions she takes in her own life. She assumes her position because she has to and you definitely get a sense of the worry that hangs over her about her father's precarious financial standing. Emily is more of a wild spirit, drawing inspiration from the beauty of the moors which surround her. She is headstrong and impetuous and often disappears for hours at a time while she explores the rugged hills and moors.
The setting of the book makes it easy to understand where the sisters draw their inspiration for their own stories, which at this point they haven't started writing yet. Certain events that transpire could almost have come from the pages of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. 'Always Emily' definitely made me want to pick up the latter two books for a re-read as they are big favourites of mine.
Well researched and with an intriguing plot, MacColl has captured the spirit of the Bronte sisters. This title will appeal to YA readers who are looking for something different to all the dystopian and paranormal books out there at the moment.