Charlotte in Love, by Brian Wilks. Distributed in the United States by Trafalgar Square, North Pomfret, Vermont. 800-423-4525. $35, hardcover.

“The Bronte family was driven by two forces,” author Brian Wilks declares, “the need for affection and the need for an audience.” While Wilks has taken it upon himself to gather the audience, the reader becomes a key source of that affection. Although Charlotte had difficulty finding love during her lifetime, her search is over, for in almost every reader, she can find a devoted admirer.

In CHARLOTTE IN LOVE, Wilks paints a vivid portrait of the thoughts, fancies, and philosophies of Charlotte Bronte. Rather than stacking fact upon fact, Wilks takes a more interpretive stance, piecing together many bits of information into an analytical look at Charlotte’s wanderings through the realms of love and loss. The influences of her family and a lifetime of word-crafting are immense, and Wilks takes great care to accurately describe the circumstances around nearly every nuance of Charlotte’s behaviour.

Charlotte drifted through a life of uncertainty and frustration. Her dealings with her family were bittersweet; although it was a very close-knit and supportive group, an ailing father, a self-destructive brother, and the loss of two dear sisters cut bitterly into her heart. Incapable of falsifying her emotions, Charlotte deftly turned away many suitors in their quest for her hand in marriage. Her one true love was unrequited, and she felt years of torment after her professor, the object of her affections, denied her his benevolent regard. Tragically, once she found a suitable life’s companion, she met her death within a year.

For avid enthusiasts of the Brontes as well as casual readers, Wilks examines key points from every angle and provides detailed explanations of important aspects. His style caters to the pace of the eager and energetic mind, quickly moving from topic to topic, but he maintains a consistent story, rich in information and deep in its philosophical aspects. His competency as a writer is indisputable, and his compilation is excellent.

Wilks does an extraordinary job of capturing the essence of Charlotte’s spirit and quest for love. His work provides a thorough insight into the mind of Charlotte Bronte, but it also delves into the nature of love, in all its cruel and irresistible elements.

Kristin Sopronyi