Author makes up an imaginary life of the Bronte sisters:living with their father on an island housing a prison. She spins a wonderful, dramatic story. Highly recommend!!
Three sisters named Charlotte, Emily and Anne have literary aspirations in Australian writer McConnochie's intriguing but overwrought first novel. In this scenario, however, the family name is not Brontâ°, but Wolf, and they live far from the Yorkshire moors, in Coldwater, a penal colony off the coast of Australia, where their father reigns as an enlightened dictator. Well educated and graced with a philosophic turn of mind, Capt. Edward Wolf is nonetheless capable of inflicting brutal punishments on the prisoners and behaving in tyrannical fashion toward his daughters. By 1847, when the narrative begins, the family has lived on Coldwater for eight years. To relieve their boredom and in hopes of earning an income, the sisters decide to write novels, an undertaking that coincides with the arrival of a brooding, enigmatic Irish convict. When Capt. Wolf appoints Finn O'Connell as his valet, bringing him into the family cottage, the sexually charged atmosphere is inevitable. Charlotte serves as the principal narrator of the novel, providing a blunt, tart perspective on events and engaging the reader with her pragmatic attitude and loyalty to her family. Ultra-sensitive Emily's breathless, tormented musings reflect her volatile mental state; Anne's thoughts are rendered third person, as are her father's journals, in which he records his theories of prison management. After he forbids his daughters to continue their own writing, blaming the "pernicious rubbish" of romances for their untrustworthy behavior, he slips into madness, raving about betrayal and conspiracies. When Anne encounters a mysterious man who then involves her in a prison uprising, the novel slips into melodrama, culminating in prison revolts and considerable angst acted out near cliffs and roiling seas. McConnochie's attempt at imaginative Brontâ° revisionism has some commendable aspects, notably her depiction of the siblings' different personalities, but the narrative founders in the character of Capt. Wolf, whose behavior is enigmatic throughout. --Publisher's Weekly
Adult/High School-In this intriguing work of fiction inspired by the Bront' family, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Wolf are the only female inhabitants of Coldwater, a desolate Australian island where their father runs a notorious penal colony from which, he brags, no one escapes. The same can be said of his family. Scarred by the tragic death of his son Branwell, Captain Wolf has withdrawn from his three daughters even while he keeps them virtual prisoners. The girls pass their days with housekeeping and writing, punctuated by sibling conflicts and shifting alliances. When one sister falls in love with an Irish convict, another with a soldier posted at the prison, and a third with a mysterious swimmer who rises from the sea, the fates of all three are changed in ways they could not have imagined. This fast-moving plot is full of cruelty, danger, and passion; has an elegant style; and makes use of multiple points of view, so that each story is narrated both firsthand and by others who see it differently. The icing on this literary cake is that Charlotte and Emily are reincarnations of Jane Eyre and Catherine Earnshaw, and their narrative styles imitate those of the real Bront' novels. Readers who love to be swept away by passionate, tragic dramas of the past should find huge enjoyment in this book.--School Library Journal