#Bookreview – The Brontë Cabine: Three Lives in Nine Objects by Deborah Lutz

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What Amazon says

An intimate portrait of the lives and writings of the Brontë sisters, drawn from the objects they possessed.

In this unique and lovingly detailed biography of a literary family that has enthralled readers for nearly two centuries, Victorian literature scholar Deborah Lutz illuminates the complex and fascinating lives of the Brontës through the things they wore, stitched, wrote on, and inscribed. By unfolding the histories of the meaningful objects in their family home in Haworth, Lutz immerses readers in a nuanced re-creation of the sisters’ daily lives while moving us chronologically forward through the major biographical events: the death of their mother and two sisters, the imaginary kingdoms of their childhood writing, their time as governesses, and their determined efforts to make a mark on the literary world.

From the miniature books they made as children to the blackthorn walking sticks they carried on solitary hikes on the moors, each personal possession opens a window onto the sisters’ world, their beloved fiction, and the Victorian era. A description of the brass collar worn by Emily’s bull mastiff, Keeper, leads to a series of entertaining anecdotes about the influence of the family’s dogs on their writing and about the relationship of Victorians to their pets in general. The sisters’ portable writing desks prove to have played a crucial role in their writing lives: it was Charlotte’s snooping in Emily’s desk that led to the sisters’ first publication in print, followed later by the publication of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

Charlotte’s letters provide insight into her relationships, both innocent and illicit, including her relationship with the older professor to whom she wrote passionately. And the bracelet Charlotte had made of Anne and Emily’s intertwined hair bears witness to her profound grief after their deaths.

Lutz captivatingly shows the Brontës anew by bringing us deep inside the physical world in which they lived and from which their writings took inspiration.

My review

I loved this book. I found it to be a really fascinating autobiography of the Brontë family. The detailed information about specific historical objects that featured in the lives of various members of the Brontë family was really interesting and I learned a lot of new facts about life in the Victorian era.

The Brontë children seemed to be surrounded by death and sadness from a young age. They lost their young mother to cancer and their father was left to bring up six children , five girls and one boy, on his own. Only four of the Brontë children lived to adulthood with the two oldest girls, Maria and Elizabeth, dying of consumption at the ages of eleven and ten years old, respectively.

I enjoyed the descriptions of how the remaining four children entertained themselves by writing tiny books filled with stories of their own creation. I would love to go and see the surviving books in the Brontë Museum.

Patrick Brontë, the father, came across as a tyrannical man with some very strange ideas on raising children. Apparently, his children were fed a poor diet that excluded meat and they were not strong and robust as a result.  This may have been part of the reason he outlived them all. He doted on his only son and spoiled him with the result that he grew up to be a tempestuous man with an inflated opinion of his own artistic abilities which ultimately led to his downfall. Branwell was given the most of Patrick’s four children and achieved the least.

The book describes the lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne and how they each came to write their books and the circumstances that inspired their stories. Anne, Emily and Branwell also died of consumption as young adults. Charlotte was the only one to get married and she died during pregnancy of extreme morning sickness which caused her to waste away. She died at the age of 29 years old. Based on her letters, Charlotte was a woman capable of great passion and romance.

A uniquely presented biography of the Brontë family for lovers of the Bronte books and also those interested books about life during the Victorian era.

Purchase The Brontë Cabinet




10 thoughts on “#Bookreview – The Brontë Cabine: Three Lives in Nine Objects by Deborah Lutz

  1. We will always be fascinated by the Brontes and this sounds like a great addition to all that has been written about them. They were all dead long before the age my children are now!

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