I know, I know. Another excuse for me to subtly talk about nineteenth century literature under the cover of modern adaptations of it (just like every review of the Austen Project I’ve written). However, I really did enjoy this book, Red Room, being as it is a celebration of the Brontës, their lives and works. It features stories by Alison Moore, David Constantine, Carys Davies, David Rose, Rowena Macdonald, Tania Hershman, Sarah Dobbs, Venessa Gebbie, Elizabeth Baines, Zoë King, Bill Broady and Felicity Skelton, and a poem by Simon Armitage. Each story takes a novel or an aspect of the lives of the Brontë sisters, and takes a new perspective on it. As someone who loves the Brontës (and who loves good short stories), this book is a real treasure.
The collection as a whole, and on a story-by-story basis, manages to capture that tense and vivid atmosphere the Brontë sisters did so well. The collection begins with Moore’s ‘Stonecrop’, in which we get that ominous ambiguity, that eerily calm sense of appreoaching violence that I so love in the Brontës’ novels. And later there is the atmosphere ‘Behind all the Closed Doors’, by Sarah Dobbs. This, although probably one of the stories more loosely connected to the Brontës, is a great story. It keeps that same sense of danger, of mortality, that you get in Wuthering Heights.