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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Bio-Fiction
I was put off buying this book for years due to its dreadful title; I finally got it secondhand from Amazon after re-reading 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Jane Eyre' with enormous pleasure and wanting to find out more about the Brontes. It's basically fictionalized biography - an account of the lives of the four Bronte siblings who survived childhood (the two oldest girls,...
Published 20 months ago by Kate Hopkins

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark Quartet
I first read this fictionalised account of the Brontes' lives many years ago and I remembered absolutely loving it. So, when I saw it for 99p on kindle I jumped at the chance of reading it again. This time round I was a little disappointed. Perhaps my tastes have changed but I found the narrative quite stilted, the dialogue stodgy and worst of all, the characters had...
Published 5 months ago by Moonlit


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Bio-Fiction, 6 Nov. 2013
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes (Paperback)
I was put off buying this book for years due to its dreadful title; I finally got it secondhand from Amazon after re-reading 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Jane Eyre' with enormous pleasure and wanting to find out more about the Brontes. It's basically fictionalized biography - an account of the lives of the four Bronte siblings who survived childhood (the two oldest girls, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis while still very young), from the death of their mother Maria to the deaths of Branwell (through drink and various illnesses) and Emily and Anne (tuberculosis). The story is told from all four Brontes' points of view, and at times from their father's, though Charlotte and Branwell have more space devoted to them than Emily and Anne. As 'bio-fiction' the novel works very well. Reid Banks has researched the lives of the Brontes impressively, manages to write dialogue that sounds convincingly period without sounding stilted, and on the whole provides vivid depictions of the four very different siblings. She's particularly good on the Brontes' childhoods: Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily's awful experiences at Cowan Bridge School (the inspiration for Lowood in 'Jane Eyre'), the trauma of Maria and Elizabeth's deaths, the Brontes' love of nature and their wonderful games of make-believe, which grew from lively games with a box of toy soldiers and a model farm to the creation of a whole fantastic city, and later, the creation of two countries - Angria (created by Charlotte and Branwell) and the bleaker Gondal (created by Emily, with the help of Anne). The childhood scenes are wonderfully evocative. Banks runs into a bit of difficulty when the Brontes emerge from adolescence to adulthood, particularly in coping with their romantic difficulties. I wasn't entirely convinced by her vague hints that Emily had a lesbian passion for one of her employers, and Constantin Heger isn't described in enough depth and vividness for us to really understand why Charlotte fell so passionately for him. It's a shame a couple of bits of interesting Bronte trivia (such as Emily's great skill as a musician) got left out, and in some of the more intense scenes Banks had a tendency to 'purple passages' of description, including phrases such as 'she hid her overflowing eyes in her hands'. I also felt that Branwell and his debauchery got rather too much space, particularly the hints about paedophilia - I for one would have liked to know more about Emily instead (but then, as Emily was so reclusive little is known about her, so Banks would have had quite a hard job here). My other problem in the later stages of the book was that Banks didn't really bring the Yorkshire area alive in much detail. She did of course mention the moors around Haworth, but we never got much of an idea what they looked like, and she fails to mention all the neighbouring properties that provided an influence for the creation of Wuthering Heights, Thornfield Hall, Wildfell Hall etc in the sisters' novels. Nevertheless, there's still a lot to enjoy in the later stages of the book - particularly Charlotte's friendships with Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor, Emily's love of domestica, Anne's quiet love for her father's curate Willie Weightman and the sisters' launching themselves onto the literary scene as successful novelists. Although Banks slightly fudges the scenes dealing with Emily's decline and death (Emily didn't suddenly become ill after Branwell's funeral - she had already been suffering for some time from TB, and her brother's death was simply the final blow that led her illness to gallop to its tragic conclusion; and Banks makes Emily in her final days seem sullen rather than brave as her sister described her) the ending is very moving - and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, about Charlotte's final years and marriage.

Although a good biography of the Brontes (like Lyndall Gordon's of Charlotte or Juliet Barker's of the whole family) will probably tell you more about the family than this novel, as an introduction to the world of the Brontes and as a reasonably light summary of their lives, I'd definitely recommend it. It's definitely the best book by Banks that I've read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shedding light on the Dark Quartet, 24 Dec. 2005
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes (Paperback)
Anyone who has read any works by the Brontes and knows something of their lives in what must have been a bleak and desolate part of Yorkshire, like me, must have been mystified by what inspirations, sources and imaginative muses drove them in their ardent quests. Theirs was indeed a world enlivened by imagination and the "Dark Quartet" brings that alive; through the detailed research and the writer's imaginative leap, these four characters and their family leave the pages and Howarth comes alive. In the pages, one feels the creative power come alive and the characters speak with the depth of fervour from which their dark and passionate stories sprang.
The many biographies are excellent introductions but this book breathes life into these mysterious and wonderful writers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brought the Brontes to life!, 17 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes (Paperback)
Very much enjoyed Lynne Reid Banks' novel/biography of the Brontes. Bank's format made for a very intersting story with many insights into the sister's relationships. I wish the sequel, PATH TO THE SILENT COUNTRY, was still in print. Would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Brontes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of my love affair with the Brontes!, 30 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes (Paperback)
I returned recently from a visit to the Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire and this book was recommended to me. I just loved it, especially after visiting the Bronte sisters' home and the book directly related to the parsonage and their lives there. It is a novel but extremely well researched, will special reference to a wealth of correspondence generated by the girls and their contemporaries. Just loved it and on reading there was a sequel referring only to Charlotte Bronte, called Path to the Silent Country, by the same author, i just HAD to buy it and read it. I also bought the complete works of the sisters but regretted this, as the book is too thick and heavy to read, no way in bed and only really sitting at the dining room table.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Lynne Reid Banks' Dark Quartet., 1 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes (Paperback)
Wow! What a deeply passionate and lyrical account of the four Bronte's lives. Lynne Reid Banks stirred my emotions and intellect with her gripping tale, which gives a useful background for anyone who has read the Bronte's novels and wishes to know more. The autobiographical basis for the Bronte's novels is fascinating as we watch the slow decline of the tragic yet sympathetic Branwell who clearly informed Anne Bronte's fictional Arthur Huntingdon, and the dark zest behind Wuthering Heights is made believable in Banks' depiction of the ethereal, stubbornly proud and private Emily Bronte. Lynne Reid Banks convincingly captures the obsessions, spiritual and psychological struggles of Charlotte, Emily, Branwell and Anne, yet despite the satisfying element of the tragedy there is also much to lighten our hearts and amuse.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark Quartet, 5 Feb. 2015
By 
Moonlit (scotland) - See all my reviews
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I first read this fictionalised account of the Brontes' lives many years ago and I remembered absolutely loving it. So, when I saw it for 99p on kindle I jumped at the chance of reading it again. This time round I was a little disappointed. Perhaps my tastes have changed but I found the narrative quite stilted, the dialogue stodgy and worst of all, the characters had become arrogant and unlikeable. Branwell in particular came across as a spoilt, over indulged monster who screamed and had fits when he didn't get his way. Much worse than I remembered. However the story is fascinating and it has encouraged me to go back to the works of the Brontes and also to seek out a more conventional biography.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For all Bronte fans, 24 Dec. 2007
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This review is from: Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes (Paperback)
If you like the Bronte novels, read this book. I just need to get my hands on the sequel now and then go back and read some of their lesser read works.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Brontes and their world, 21 Nov. 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Anyone who has read any works by the Brontes and knows something of their lives in what must have been a bleak and desolate part of Yorkshire, like me, must have been mystified by what inspirations, sources and imaginative muses drove them in their ardent quests. Theirs was indeed a world enlivened by imagination and the "Dark Quartet" brings that alive; through the detailed research and the writer's imaginative leap, these four characters and their family leave the pages and Howarth comes alive. In the pages, one feels the creative power come alive and the characters speak with the depth of fervour from which their dark and passionate stories sprang.
The many biographies are excellent introductions but this book breathes life into these mysterious and wonderful writers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Past, 1 July 2015
When I began reading this book, I will have to admit that I was rather sceptical of whether I would enjoy it, as I do not normally enjoy biographies. However the writing, that incorporated excerpts of letters as part of the story as opposed to it merely being another collection of letters being interpreted quickly convinced me of the narrative that was being told. Additionally, the past of the other two Brontė sisters that never reached adulthood was something new to me and therefore further captured my attention. I also enjoyed that the biography focused less on the actual novels written by the sisters and more on their lives and their interactions with everyone around them, especially with their family. Overall an enjoyable and interesting read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening read, 27 Mar. 2015
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This book is an eye opening read! I have really become immersed in the lives of the four Brontes. Their lifes were quite protected and uneventful in most ways and yet the three sisters, Charlotte, Anne and Emily wrote some of the most startling and evocative stories. For their time they were daring and determined deciding to write the books in the names of three brothers and then travelling to London to introduce themselves to the publisher but still maintaining their true identities to the public. Sadly Branwell, inspite of everyone's expectations did not perform so well and his story is a sad reflection on the dependence on alcohol and drugs some people give in to. If you are interested in the Brontes read this book!!
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Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes
Dark Quartet: The Story of the Brontes by Lynne Reid Banks (Paperback - 27 Mar. 1986)
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