The revelations garnered from the perusal of Charlotte Bronte's novels and her letters in which thousands of hidden clues tell the real circumstances in her life and which are revealed in "Thunder" are so shocking you will be left gasping.
Bronte in Greek means "thunder." The original name of the family was Brunty but Patrick, the father of the famous children, wrenched the name into a new one. What's in a name? Everything.
"Charlotte Bronte's Thunder" is an iconoclastic book that will convincingly topple Emily off her pedestal as the wild, strange, totally original author of "Wuthering Heights, one of the greatest works in English literature.
The research undertaken to write this 500 page tome is mind-boggling and Michele Carter will convince you that Charlotte wrote "Wuthering Heights" and ALL the Bronte books, issuing them one by one like phantoms from Haworth parsonage.
Branwell was too self-absorbed and drunk to have written any novel and neither Emily nor Anne had the intellect or the talent to pen the great stories or to surge into fantasy with exquisite poetry.
The diary papers of Emily's reveal a girl who at sixteen wrote musings that were "awkward, freakish and immature" as well as misspelt. Childishly, she was still absorbed with the Gondal stories the children wrote when they were children. "No Coward Soul is Mine" the magnificent poem always attributed to Emily, could not have issued from the mind of Emily, a girl who simply did not have the mental building blocks or the talent to create great literature.
Branwell had the extraordinary "trick" of writing Greek with one hand, Latin simultaneously with the other. This type of ability can often be seen in savants who can do amost unexplainable things totally beyond a simply intelligent person. Author Michele does not imply that Branwell and Charlotte were savants but perhaps something akin to them with highly unusual mental capacities.
Like Branwell's two hands writing different languages, Charlotte could simultaneously create an anagram and "translate" it into perfect English prose. She could invent the anagrams while she was walking around and perform her magic trick in her head, an astounding ability. She commented constantly on the corruption and vice alive and well right down the street in Haworth, and much of that vice she laid right at the door of the Three Graces Masonic Lodge, where her brother Branwell was secretary. Patrick Bronte was also a Mason.
Charlotte was a devastating social commentator. Her accusations were right in plain sight in the form of anagrams for all to see but her contemporaries couldn't see them. Here are simple samples of anagrams from "Anagram Genius"- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: "O noble heart! Entry by a reject" and "her better enjoyable cot yarn". Most of Charlotte's anagrams as revealed by Author Carter are a great deal more complex. She notes that anagrams often yield different results with different "translators" but Bronte's overwhelming tone cannot be missed.
Author Michele Carter has been to Haworth and walked upon the moors and she will carry you there walking along side her. A sudden storm brews up, the gale winds howl and she sees a man upon a ridge his arms spread in agony and he is screeching to the gods. It is Heathcliff, of course, and the elements, the sheer fierceness of the storm, the writhing clouds conger up an image so real that Michele is terrified. She is there on the moors and she has become, not Emily, but Charlotte, the real writer of "Wuthering Heights".
The physical world of the Bronte family is paramount, the York location is so vital to experiencing the Bronte experience. The parsonage faced east, but to the west glowered the moors, in the spring green with young leaves and wildflowers and grass that the Bronte children loved to nestle into. In the winter snow and the whistle of icy winds kept the family inside but the moors sidling right up to the parsonage always cast a spell.
The Gothic-ness of Haworth and the moors set the tone for the Bronte writings, but more important still is the fact that Branwell, the one boy, was a Freemason. Being very close to Charlotte, Branwell would have gleefully explained the Freemason rituals to his "captive audience of one" and Charlotte would have sopped it all up with a mind of such genius it is almost impossible to contemplate the depths. Very likely fellow Masons would have visited Branwell, and Charlotte was surely in the wings somewhere, breathing in the secret Masonic conversations.
Anne and Emily were as close as twins and were always together when they were home. The two pairs: Charlotte and Branwell; Anne and Emily. But the significant pair is the brother and sister, one year apart in age. Branwell was Charlotte's ticket to the secret Masonic world where women could not venture.
Hundreds and hundreds of Masonic-fuelled words, gestures and scenarios occur in "Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights", "The Professor" and all the Bronte books both as anagrams or in plain sight. Author Carter finds and explains them to you. When Jane is imprisoned in the Red Room, that room becomes a symbol for a Masonic lodge, red being the color of blood and of significance to Masons. Jane, in terror, has a sort of fit but when she is freed she is more assertive, able to confront the horrid Aunt Reed and she becomes more worldly by degrees, degrees being a Masonic term for self improvement. Mr. Rochester's brother-in-law, who is savaged by his insane wife is named Richard Mason. Red, the color of blood, is featured in the small room where Jane attends to Mason while Rochester goes for a doctor. The room is an allegory of a Masonic lodge.
Throughout "Wuthering Heights" Charlotte Bronte "inserts a layer of Masonic allegory along side a narrating layer that depicts Heathcliff's efforts to seek revenge." She is mocking the Masons because Heathcliff is corrupt. Freemasonry, being steeped in Egyptian and Greek mythology is revealed in Heathcliff's origins. "That he was a gypsy (Egyptian) was no accident". Cathy dies on March 20, the spring equinox when Isis is celebrated.
When the Bronte manuscripts were first being circulated, a very respected Victorian critic named Sidney Dobell had come to the conclusion that all the books issuing from Haworth were by Currer Bell. Charlotte always maintained there were three authors. "Her deception was her protection against specific men who might discover her code and then learning that she was exposing ...fraud." (Illegal activities of the Masons).
There is a great deal of proof that Charlotte wrote both "Agnes Grey" and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall", novels attributed to Anne's authorship. (When would Anne have found time to write two books? She was always busy as a governess). Many of the thoughts and descriptions of Anne's characters are echoed in passages of "Jane Eyre".
However, it was not widely perceived that "the three Bells (Currer, Ellis and Acton) rang in the tone of one note" because Charlotte was very convincing when she insisted there were three authors.
There are many examples revealed in "Thunder" that strongly indicate Charlotte wrote "Wuthering Heights." How could two women as opposite in character as Charlotte and Emily use the same texts for inspiration (Paradise Lost )and "have the same attitudes, write the same themes, use identical symbolic systems?"
And what does Charlotte have to say about her future husband Arthur Bell Nicholls? He certainly had no appreciation of her talent: "Currer Bell could fly up to heaven for all he cared." What does she have to say about her marriage and the last nine months of her life? You'll learn all in "Thunder". Arthur Bell Nicholls was a Mason, a significant fact.
Haworth was a den of iniquity, the scene of just about every conceivable vice. Somehow one misses Emily, the reclusive genius, her black hair blowing as she strides across the moor, Keeper at her heels, pulling the characters of Cathy and Heathciff by osmosis from the glowering skies, the writhing trees. That Emily is an illusion, but in her place is Charlotte, her torch of truth held high, her incredible talent and courage an inspiration forever.
"Charlotte Bronte's Thunder" is very comprehensive and I found I had to back-track many times to try and understand an issue. Author Michele Carter’s singular ability to find the anagrams which are sprinkled like seeds in row after row of the Bronte books is amazing. If you are a Bronte aficionado (and who isn't?) don't miss "Thunder”. Little Charlotte, the size of an eleven year girl (in an anagram she calls herself “Tiny Ariel”) was one of the greatest literary giants of all time.
"Shades of War" opens with the unpleasant and rather frightening scene of a Vancouver passenger train coming to a screeching halt when it hits a cow. A cow, a great, lumbering female animal. A bull killed on the tracks would not arouse the same sense of horror as the cow, her head almost severed, is rolled off the tracks and lands with her sightless eyes peering at some buttercups.
The tone and substance are set for this fine novel: women teetering on the brink. Teetering, not from fear or cowardice but from inability to find a purpose in their lives, a sense of direction, fulfillment, happiness. However, men are teetering, too, unsure of what direction to take, how to reach fulfillment but their insecurity is carefully disguised. Even little ten year old Theresa-Marie, the youngest female in the book, has to cope with a rather nasty brother, Christian, who is jealous of her and does everything he can to make her miserable.
Shades of War: war comes in all colors from the frontline to the domestic hearth where women are waiting for their soldier to come home, waiting to be fulfilled. Waiting for something, they may not know what. The women are submerged in a miasma of pervasive melancholy which manifests itself in visions, terrifying nightmares and ghosts. Happiness is elusive and none of the characters has learned how to grasp it.
Clare Tate, a young war widow and suffragette from Toronto, has come to the little town of Rockwater, the last stop of a lecture circuit. It is the day before Good Friday, 1917 and Clare checks in at the Timber Hotel which is run by the three Boisseneau brothers Pierre, Louie and Joe. She has barely unpacked when the cry of murder reverberates throughout the hotel and everyone, including Clare, runs like an animal pack, strangely drawn to the body that has been discovered in the woods. The discoverer of the body is twelve year old Christian, who screams, runs a fever and well, acts like a girl.
As Clare is drawn into the lives of the people at the Timber Hotel and merges with the people in the inn, there is a subtle change in the way she speaks and acts. She had been the school-marm, who spoke in a somewhat trite, somewhat prissy way. When she meets owner Joe and his friend Oscar, who always dresses in a skirt, at breakfast the morning after her lecture, the day after the discovery of the body, the two men, who had attended her lecture, are gentle and encouraging . Clare begins to experience a new awakening, she becomes more sensitive to other peoples’ needs, more tolerant.
Joe always wears a glove on his left hand having shattered it accidently when his gun went off. Here are two imperfect men, Oscar the transvestite, Joe with a handsome face but a ruined hand.
Clare had felt a little full of herself. Her thoughts are drawn to these two men who in their way have faced emotional hardships just as great as the loss of her husband. Louie, one of the three brothers who runs the hotel has secrets of his own: he likes to sneak into the local brothel and get tied up and whipped as foreplay.
Louie is arrested for the murder of the girl, whose name it has been discovered is Heidi, and she is one of the prostitutes in the local brothel. The women associated with the hotel where Clare is staying, beg her to help them get Louie freed. Clare is given a challenge and that challenge acts like adrenaline. Instead of constant introspection, here is a clarion call to help somebody else. And this rustic town, this backwater place will teach Clare something vital- like how to live. And with her mind on others, she begins to heal.
Shades of War is both a mystery and a social commentary. The women of Western Canada win a great battle over Easter weekend 1917: they have won the vote. However, the skirmishes between man and woman can only end when the two sexes respect each other as equals . Even the male chauvinist, Pierre, who before this weekend had felt “God could count on Pierre Boisseneau to praise the glories of war” and who had firmly believed in male superiority, turns to the skirmishes between men and women and muses “maybe we are all the same…men and women equally alone and equally confused.” Even little Theresa-Marie manages to give her tormenting brother, Christian, a blow on the head that sends him reeling. Equality does not mean woman is a doormat.
Many of the characters in the novel undergo a baptism of fire but they emerge unscathed because the dark glass they have been looking through has suddenly been pierced with light. They learn where their happiness lies and they learn how to achieve contentment. Two historical victories are won over that Easter weekend of 1917: women in Western Canada have won the vote and the 2nd Canadian Corps, fighting in France, has captured Vimy Ridge, a major achievement against the Germans.
Author Carter brings the novel to a satisfying conclusion, and you’re very likely going to think about the relationships in your life as you close the book.