August 7, 2016
Dear Sweet Fierce Anne Brontë
With a trio of Bronte sisters to choose from, two of whom are perennial favorites, plus their wildly wayward brother Branwell, why write a novel about Anne? Grave, quiet, serious Anne? Why not Charlotte of Jane Eyre fame? Or Emily, creator of the savagely gothic Wuthering Heights? Why little Anne Brontë, author of the less popular and more realistic novels, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?
Let me tell you!
Because there’s so much more to Anne Bronte than meets the eye. Because Anne was a dark horse. Pure stealth. She was the littlest sibling, the sickest one, the quietest and shyest, the girl everyone thought was the most fragile and delicate when in reality she was FIERCE. Anne didn’t cave. She never surrendered to the people around her. She didn’t argue or scream or stamp her feet. She simply did what she wanted to do, very quietly, and before anyone realized what had happened she’d written two subversive novels by the age of 29, worked the longest and hardest of anyone in her family besides Papa, and never EVER complained.
Anne could keep secrets. Big, juicy, dangerous secrets. Secrets that could bring an entire house down. She knew the dark night of the soul. It almost swallowed her whole when she was seventeen. Anne fought demons and won. She fought just to breathe. At times she was so shy she could barely speak, and so she watched and listened, learning about all manner of things a gentle virgin in the 1800’s wasn’t supposed to know. Things like sex and bastards, alcoholism, heroin addiction, and betrayal.
Anne paid attention. She saw through masks and noticed the details everyone else missed. She wrote about the dark side, but she loved the light, and when she died at 29, on the heels of Bran and Em, Anne went out with the courage of a lion. No crying for her. Instead a deep, calm grace.
As I read Anne Bronte’s books over the years, she quietly slipped up on me. She reminds me of a thief in the night, stealing up behind you, sliding an arm around your throat to pull you close and whisper in your ear. I couldn’t forget her voice. It haunted me. Her spirit stole into my head and heart and wouldn’t leave. And then to my utter surprise she rose from the dead to embark upon a new and dangerous adventure. So I wrote it down and now, in Anne Brontë, Nightwalker, sweet, gentle Anne will show you just how fierce she truly is!