Charlotte & Arthur Book Review

A honeymoon is more than the first time that the newlyweds can have sexual relations without the naysayers putting their two cents in. It is a vacation that gives them the opportunity to break from the stress of the wedding, life, and the daily annoyances that are too easy to complain about.

Charlotte and Arthur is the 2021 novel by Pauline Clooney that tells the story of the honeymoon of Charlotte Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls. Their courtship was an unexpected one. Arthur was in love with Charlotte long before he proposed. When he finally did, her father, Patrick Bronte, was not pleased with the prospect of his last living child marrying his curate, who came from poor Irish stock.

Nevertheless, they did go ahead with their nuptials, which was then followed by a month long trip traveling through Ireland and meeting Arthur’s family. What starts out as a gamble for Charlotte, who by then was in her late 30’s and was convinced that she would never marry, turns into an unexpected love for her new husband.

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As a Bronte devotee, I loved this book. The details are fantastic. It was as if I was there with them. Clooney takes us into a part of Charlotte’s story that is often glossed over or not given the spotlight that it should. I will warn that this story is not for the Bronte neophyte. The ideal reader is someone who has an encyclopedia-like knowledge of these women, their lives, and writing.

My only complaint is that the figurative editorial red pen appeared far too much for my taste. When I am reading for pleasure, I don’t want to be thinking about what I would fix, if I was the author.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: One of Us (2017)

Humans were not meant to be alone. We need other people, we need to be loved and wanted. But sometimes, that need conflicts with the internal knowledge that we are different.

The 2017 Netflix documentary, One of Us, follows three former NYC-based Hasidic Jews as they break away from their previous lives. To say that this process is difficult is an understatement. It’s more than the change in physical appearance. The emotional journey from where they started to where they ended is challenging, to say the least. It requires the knowledge that they may lose everyone they love in the process.

Going through this process is akin to coming out of the closet as an LGBTQ person. The push-pull of being true to yourself while wanting to be accepted is a psychological see-saw that no one should go through. But we live in a world that says that the only way we will be loved is if we conform to what is “normal”.

Though the subjects of this film are Jewish, one does not need to be of the same faith to try to understand what these people are going through. I suspect that there are many people, of all faiths, who were raised one way, but come to realize that that is not how they want to live.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

One of Us is available for streaming on Netflix.

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