One of the most powerful episodes in Jane Eyre is in Chapter 21 when Jane forgives her Aunt Reed for lying about her and cheating her out of family ties and a possible inheritance. I kept thinking of that scene as I read about the Brontë family. Assuming there was any truth to the portrait painted by Banks, nobody in the family would have been capable of writing the lines, “You have my full and free forgiveness”. They were all too petty and self-absorbed.
A better, more balanced book is The Brontes: Charlotte Bronte & Her Family by Rebecca Fraser. Fraser freely writes about the question marks connected to Brontë history, but doesn’t attempt to give sloppy, easy answers to each one of them. She quotes from many letters written by Charlotte and others which paint quite a different picture of the family. Yes, they had incredible hardships, but Charlotte’s sweet spirit and faith in God shine through even her worst difficulties.