Okay, so… a while ago (*ahem*2013*ahem*) I reviewed Part 1 of “In Search of the Brontës” (2003), in which Patrick Malahide portrayed the Reverend Patrick Brontë, father of the famous writing siblings. Admin, who had recently read Bertram White’s The Miracle at Haworth at the time, was kind enough to provide some of her own extremely insightful contributions to that post. So here, now, only two years later and without further ado, is Part 2!
Haworth’s New Parson
Well, perhaps just a little ado first – a brief recap. Part 1 of this excellent docudrama covered the Brontës’ lives upon their arrival in Haworth, Yorkshire, in 1820, where the Rev. Brontë assumed a post as parson. Using a combination of personal “interviews” and reminiscences, quoted writings, and dramatic reconstructions, we become acquainted with the Brontës’ life in Yorkshire in their first real family home. Sadly, their happiness was to be tested when Maria Brontë perished from uterine cancer only a few months later, leaving Rev. Brontë as a single father to six small children, all under seven years of age.
Unsuccessful in his attempts to remarry (for some reason, a penniless parson with six children wasn’t considered the best catch by the eligible local ladies), Brontë raised and educated the children on his own, employing unconventional methods designed to enhance his children’s critical, independent thinking. Once they’d reached an age for higher education, the two older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, were eventually sent to the Cowan Bridge School , immortalized as the deplorable “Lowood School” in Jane Eyre. Poor conditions at the school likely contributed to their deaths from consumption (tuberculosis) not long after their mother’s. The remaining siblings – Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne – were deeply affected by these deaths, and took comfort in creating stories set in elaborate, shared fantasy worlds as a form of refuge. Later, the girls tried to find employment as governesses or teachers while their brother Branwell, fired from his railway job, became a tutor.
The Brontës in Upheaval
As Part 2, “Gone Like Dreams”, opens, it’s now 1844. Charlotte (Victoria Hamilton) and Emily (Elizabeth Hurran) have been studying French in Belgium under a Monsieur Héger (Ed Stoppard) in an attempt to make themselves more desirable as teachers, with the unintended consequence that Charlotte has developed an intense but unrequited crush on her teacher. Disliking the entire experience and suffering from homesickness, Emily soon returns to Yorkshire. Meanwhile, Anne (Alexandra Milman) has been governessing for a wealthy family, the Robinsons, while her brother Branwell (Jonathan McGuinness) tutors their children – and rashly embarks upon an affair with his employer’s wife. Already unhappy with her job, Anne quits in disgust when she finds out what her brother’s been up to.
Continue for more synopsis and a gallery