Graphic Novel Review: Bronte

Brontë by Manuela Santoni

by Manuela Santoni
1 out of 5 stars

This graphic novel begins when the Bronte sisters have returned from Belgium after completing their additional education. Charlotte convinces her sisters to try publishing a volume of their poetry together. Their brother, Branwell, is an alcoholic and opium addict, and their father, Patrick, is becoming more and more ill and weak. The sisters try to make some money with their writing to help support the family.

The story takes extreme liberties with the historical facts, to the point where very little of their real lives is actually reflected in the book. I also hated the way that the sisters’ personalities were represented. They are written as being foul-mouthed, belligerent, and anti-social; and that is presented to the reader as their “passion” when really they are just rude and mean in this book.

Nothing about their charitable work with their father’s parishioners is mentioned, nothing about their many visits with their close friends, and nothing about their strong Christian faith. Instead they are presented as being completely self-serving and isolated.

I find it difficult to believe that a minister’s daughters would act so selfishly and rudely to one another even in the privacy of their own home. Nothing in any part of their actual history even hints at this kind of behavior, and I found it very distasteful.

I think it’s odd that so much of the book focuses on Branwell and his addictions. He is violent towards his father and sisters, and Emily retaliates verbally with the most vindictive dialogue. There seems to be no room for patience or compassion in this book.

I just can’t stand the way that the actual history that we know about the Bronte family has been completely ignored. I guess you could say that it is a “reimagining” or a “fictionalized account”, but even with that excuse, it is a reimagining for the worse. If you wanted to draw out all the darkest parts of someone’s life and then exaggerate them into a mess of sins and misdeeds, and ignore anything good that they may have done, that would be this book.

The artwork is not that great. The pen and ink style is not attractive. Some panels look like the illustrator purposefully made it ugly to add to the drama and darkness of the story.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.

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