This book is a continuation of Charlotte Bronte’s last writing before she died. She only finished the first two chapters of this book, and it has been finished by “another lady”. I am usually skeptical about modern authors trying to finish work from a classic author, but this was well done.
The writing doesn’t exactly mimic Charlotte Bronte’s writing style, but it does a fair job. The themes and plot have many elements that I would expect to find in a Bronte story. There is a gothic moodiness, plot twists, wild scenery, and of course, complex and compelling characters.
Mrs. Chalfont is a lonely widow who adopts an abandoned child and tries to penetrate the mystery of the child’s true identity. With the help of Mr. Ellin, she embarks on a journey of discovery and intrigue to unravel the secrets the child is hiding. It is only when the ruthless Emma appears on the scene that the depths of crime and hatred become apparent, and only Mrs. Chalfont can save the innocent child she has come to love.
I loved the story so much! I was laughing and crying and clutching the book to my heart! The emotional power in the story is very reminiscent of Charlotte Bronte’s style.
I figured out the big plot reveal on page 86, and it is not actually revealed until page 163. There are only four words on page 86 that made it plain, so I think if that clue had been removed, it would not have ruined the mystery too early. But even though I figured it out early, I still enjoyed seeing it all unfold for the characters.
Mrs. Chalfont is such a sweet and lonesome character. She is kind and generous and forgiving, but she hides secret pain and anguish in her heart. I just loved seeing how she interacts with the various heroes and villains, and how they are all astonished at her big heart.
Mr. Ellin is a bit of an enigma. I’m not sure that his personality in the rest of the book really fits with the first two chapters. He is a complex person; private and secretive about his own business, but also sociable and charming in company. He is languid at times until you almost think he is lazy, but then he’ll be springing into action with energy and determination. He certainly kept my interest.
The elusive Emma is the titular character, but she is only in one scene. The story is all about how her anger and hatred have affected the lives of so many people. We see people’s reactions when her name is mentioned, how the county gossips about her, how people’s memories of her are skewed, how her family try to shield her and make excuses for her. She is a force to be reckoned with at every turn.
Overall, I enjoyed this book so much! I only took off one star because the prose isn’t quite the same at Bronte’s, but pretty close; and because I figured out the big reveal too early.