by Kate Pennington (Author)
This is an adventure story set in 1832, and
its protagonist is the 14-year-old Emily
Brontë. She encounters the swashbuckling
Heslington on the moor, who is in hiding
after the discovery of his affair with the
daughter of the house where he is a
servant. Following her romantic ideals,
Emily agrees to act as a go-between for the lovers, and
gets herself into some dangerous situations as a result.
The tale is well told, and offers some interesting
thoughts on the differences between art and life. There
are very obvious correspondences between this novel
and Wuthering Heights, and one of the main concerns is
the exploration of how Brontë might have drawn from
real-life events to write her novel. The main focus is on
the figure of Emily, but Charlotte and Anne are not so
well drawn; Anne in particular has only a shadowy
presence. Details from the family’s everyday life and
diary extracts are well used; these historical and
biographical elements will be of interest to some readers.
Pennington’s novel seems to assume a familiarity
with Wuthering Heights. A lot of the pleasure of reading
Brief Candle comes from spotting the connections
between the two books. However, with a 14-year-old
protagonist and relatively simple language, Brief Candle
seems to be aimed at readers who would probably not
yet have come to Wuthering Heights. Perhaps the
biggest question about Pennington’s book is whether it
would be of much interest to readers who weren’t
already familiar with Brontë’s novel.
Recommended age: 13–16. This book is definitely
aimed at girl readers.