Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Headline, 2009


One of the best books I've read this year !

The story of the Brontes , subject of so many books, both fiction and non-fiction, has had new life breathed into it by the wonderful and compelling writing of Jude Morgan. Without being influenced by the varying myths about the family that have grown over the years he takes the facts and weaves a tale that is both realistic and magical.

 Beginning with the death of the childrens mother , Maria Bronte, and ending with the marriage of Charlotte, much of what lies between will be familiar to many readers. The terrible years at the Cowan school, the time spent in Belgium, the governessing positions have all been immortalised in the Bronte books.
What made it worthwhile reading about again was the beautiful quality of Jude Morgan's prose and his rich development of all the characters. I loved the way the three girls stepped out from under the mantle of 'the sisters' and each began to shine in her own individuality. I loved how the lesser characters, from Tabby in the kitchen to the stern Aunt Branwell were also given their full share of attention and emerged as real personalities.

I love Jude Morgan's wonderful use of adjectives, similes and metaphors........."But Anne was also observant, highly sensitive, sharply honest. Hence the expected things, the dreaded things, that she could not shrug off or keep at a decorous distance. They rubbed like a nutmeg grater at the quick of her self."

I don't love fact I'm appalled at the title change for the US publication --Charlotte and Emily - not only is it dull and unoriginal but the omission of Anne is shameful.
The original title comes from the book - from the Reverend Bronte's memory of his father in Ireland who before going out into the hayfields would place a sucking-pebble in his mouth to stop his mouth going dry.
"That is the taste of sorrows: the hard necessary pebble in your mouth."
It's the perfect title for a story that has more than its share of tragedy and sorrow and it's beyond me why it needed to be changed.

Fortunately no one can change what is inside the covers - masterly storytelling, superb historical fiction, a joy to read!

Year of the Historical Challenge
Typically British Challenge


  1. I have bought so many Morgan books over the years though I've only ever read one- The King's Touch. I liked it so much, though, and feel certain I'll like all her rest! I admit I don't have much interest in the Brontes, so this book doesn't interest me quite as much as the others (I have Passion and Indiscretion on my shelf), but if I like the ones I have, I'll certainly consider the investment!

  2. Ooh, this one sounds awesome! There are a few books about the Brontes out right now!!

  3. I just picked this up (US version) from the library. Looking forward to it. Hate the title change, I wish US and UK publishers would knock that off already.

  4. One of the best books, wow, sounds good to me. I'd like to read something about them

  5. Aarti - if you're not interested in the Brontes it hardly seems worthwhile. I haven't read Passion either so looking forward to that.

    Carrie - I think this one would be hard to beat.

    Misfit - I hate this constant changing of titles too - it never seems to be for the better. Hope you enjoy it!

    Blodeuedd - only my opinion, of course. :-)