Charlotte Brontë's death in 1855 deprived the world of what might have been her masterpiece. The twenty unfinished manuscript pages that are the nucleus of Emma Brown signaled her most compelling work since Jane Eyre—the story of a young girl, Matilda, brought by her father to a small school in provincial Victorian England. The school, Fuschia Lodge, is foundering, so its headmistress is delighted to welcome a new pupil—especially one so elaborately dressed, with an apparently rich father who is "quite the gentleman." But when Matilda's tuition goes unpaid and it comes time to make arrangements for the Christmas holidays, she is shocked to find that the identity of the father, Conway Fitzgibbon—like the address he left behind—does not exist. So who is the mysterious Matilda? She herself will not say, and it falls to a local gentleman, Mr. Ellin, and a childless widow, Isabel Chalfont, to unravel the truth. From the drawing rooms of English country society to the grimy backstreets of London's seamiest reaches, from the dandified members of the city's elite clubs to the blowsy ranks of its brothels, Emma Brown follows the search—first for Matilda's true identity and then for the girl herself.

With all the wit and pathos of the novel's originator, Clare Boylan's accomplished pen has seamlessly developed Brontë's sketch of a girl without a past into a stunning portrait of a Victorian society with a shameful secret at its heart.


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Emma Brown
by Clare Boylan

Viking Press
April 12, 2004
ISBN #0670032972
448 pages
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