Glass Town: The Imaginary World of the Brontës

Comic Arts: Abrams. Mar. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781419732683. $24.99. LIT
Growing up motherless in their father’s windswept parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë spun yarns about the fictional worlds of Glass Town and Gondal. Only fragments of these writings remain. Yet Greenberg (The One Hundred Nights of Hero) has cunningly reimagined both the worlds and the story of their creation, weaving historically attested and new episodes to produce this charming metafiction. Here, like Charles Dickens’s Ghost of the Christmas Past, the character Charles Wellesley visits the adult Charlotte at night to escort her through her memories of storytelling, encourages her to lay them to rest with fondness, and reveals a denouement marvelously right for the youngsters’ convoluted plot. The beguiling art suggests the charming awkwardness of do-it-yourself paper dolls with the bright colors of a youthful paint box.
VERDICT Greenberg not only shows how the juvenile “scribblemania” of the Brontës prefigured later literary accomplishments, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but also crafts a story that resonates within our own century. Engrossing for both adults and teens attracted to alt-history fantasy or the Brontës. (See also, Catherynne M. Valente’s The Glass Town Game, SLJ 6/17.)
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