Coming late 2017:
Without the Veil Between
Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit
A novel about the “other” Brontë sister
For notification of its release, please add your name to my mail list.
A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
~ from The Bluebell by Anne Brontë
Anne has always, and unfairly, been the least celebrated Brontë sister, her work considered less important than that of her siblings …
This book gives us Anne. Not Anne, the ‘less gifted’ sister of Charlotte and Emily (although we meet them too as convincingly drawn individuals); nor the Anne who ‘also wrote two novels’, but Anne herself, courageous, committed, daring and fiercely individual: a writer of remarkable insight, prescience and moral courage whose work can still astonish us today.
~ Deborah Bennison, Bennison Books
Without the Veil Between will be released by All Things That Matter Press, publisher of my first two novels.
When I set out, well over two years ago, to write a fiction about Anne Brontë, youngest sister of Charlotte and Emily, I doubted I would find enough material to produce something longer than a novella. I remember how Deborah Bennison, whose lovely words are quoted in this post, pushed me to take it further. Before the first part was finished, I was also convinced there was more than enough for a novel.
The pages are still blank, but there is the miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
~ Vladimir Nabokov
My objective didn’t change as blank pages filled and multiplied. I wanted to present Anne as a vital person and writer in her own right, as crucial to the Brontë story and literary legacy as her more famous and—in her brother Branwell’s case—infamous siblings were. As anyone who ventures off the Brontë beaten path might, I soon realized Anne had a very independent, intelligent, inspiring story to explore, take to my heart and soul, and tell.
Denton’s emphasis on the thoughts and desires of the youngest Brontë sister brings color and life to the pages of her novel. She expresses Anne’s concerns in lavish prose that matches the 19th century Brontë style. Without the Veil Between isn’t simply a biographical novel; it is a journey back into the day to day lives of one of history’s most famous literary families.
~ Steve Lindahl, author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, and Hopatcong Vision Quest, stevelindahl.com
Without the Veil Between follows Anne through the last seven years of her life. It begins in 1842 while she is still governess for the Robinson family of Thorpe Green, away from Haworth and her family most of the time, with opportunities to travel to York and Scarborough, places she develops deep affection for. Although, as with her siblings, circumstances eventually bring her back home, she is not deterred in her quest for individual purpose and integrity. She stands as firm in her ambitions as Charlotte does and is a powerful conciliator in light of Emily’s resistance to the publication of their poetry and novels.
Without the Veil Between catches both the triumph and the tragedy of Anne’s short but quietly courageous and determined life. Her disappointments and heartbreak patiently borne; her originality of thought in opposition to contemporary mores; her searing and unflinching insights into the experiences of women and the need for resistance and positive action that we now call feminism.
~ Deborah Bennison, Bennison Books
Of course, Anne’s life and work intermingled with her sisters’, but should never have been for so long blended with theirs until nearly non-existent, her character, thoughts, emotions, spirituality and much of her experience independent from theirs—as she and, eventually, others grew to realize, imperatively and purposefully so.
Halfway through her twenties, having lived most of the last four years away from her family, she was finally fully-fledged, the nature she was born with at last standing up for itself, wanting its voice to be heard, with the courage to admit she was meant to wear truths not masks.
~© 2017 by DM Denton
I invite you to enter Anne Brontë’s world
through the places and people that influenced it.
And add your name to my mail list
for notification of the novel’s release.
Settings of Without the Veil Between
Characters in Without the Veil Between
Excerpt from Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit
What better way to enjoy time with Emily again than by resuming their habit of wandering west to meet only earth and sky. Their dogs, like themselves, with contrasting physiques and personalities, were intrinsically similar, especially in their need to frequently escape the stuffiness and limited amusement of being indoors.
“Flossy, come back,” Anne tried to command the impulsive spaniel off once more to chase sheep.
Emily had no trouble getting Keeper to lie down with a firm annunciation of his name while she pointed to the ground, although his whimpering implied he was still thinking about following Flossy’s example.
“Flossy. Bad boy, bad boy.”
“If you control your little Robinsons like you do that sassy mutt, I fear they won’t live long.”
As if it heard Emily’s prediction, a large ewe turned on Flossy, which brought the dog running back up the steep slope to his forgiving mistress.
On second thought, Anne tried to be tougher with a disciplinary tap on Flossy’s nose, then embraced him again. “Good boy.”
“Methinks he’s exactly what you always wanted … to be.” Emily was walking again, her direction declaring her destination.
Their ascent to Top Withens would be delayed an hour or more, if Emily’s mood was more for reclining and swirling her hand in the water to stir up tadpoles.
When Ellen Nussey was with them, from crossing the slabbed bridge over Sladen Beck to climbing a rugged bank, navigating greasy stones and not minding a little dampening, there was always an echo of “watch your step”. With just Anne and the dogs following her lead, Emily didn’t have anything to say until they were at the best seat in view of the waterfall.
“No, you take it, Annie. I relinquish my throne to you.”
“Any of the other stones would do for me.”
“I insist on taking care of you.”
Anne didn’t mind Emily acting more like an older brother than Branwell ever did, or even a gallant lover, reminiscent of childish acting-out. In truth, she depended on it. In that small oasis of time, standing still where they were hidden from the world, their faithful companions conspiring to find something to occupy themselves, there was so much to enjoy and be grateful for. The sky was open in sight of heaven, high ground around and beyond them, the sun warming and a breeze cooling, the sound of water calming, and faintly fragrant moss glistening on the rocks with tiny white stars appearing between some of them.
Yet, more as if she was on a stormy ocean than in a quiet cove, panic overwhelmed Anne until she could hardly breathe.
Emily lightly rubbed Anne’s back and twisted up a strand of her hair loosened from its simple arrangement.
Anne cleared her throat, choking, Flossy pawing at her knees, Keeper barking.
“Go ahead and spit.” Emily helped her sister lean over to do so. “Other than me, there’s only the dogs, flies, tadpoles and, perhaps, God to witness it.”
Anne laughed and spoke hoarsely, “What would I do without you?”
“Better than I have done without you.”
~© 2017 by DM Denton
I longed to view that bliss divine,
Which eye hath never seen;
Like Moses, I would see His face
Without the veil between.
~ from Anne Brontë’s poem, A Happy Day in February
What Denton has achieved is a portrait placed in a time very different from the jangling present, but that resonates in a way that suspends years and centuries and lets us feel the joys and sadness of a writer whose unflinching look at life, especially in her novels, rings with the authenticity of who, inside, she really was.
~ Thomas Davis, Four Windows Press, author of The Weirding Storm, an epic poem
©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.