One of the creepiest things that Julia, the heroine of Elizabeth Taylor’s superb novel, At Mrs. Lippincote’s, has ever seen is Emily Brontë’s comb.
She and her cousin-in-law, Eleanor, are talking about the Brontës, because Julia’s son Oliver is reading Jane Eyre. The nearby school, Sunnybank, reminds Oliver of Lowood.
Julia has read all the Brontës’ books.
Julia lit a cigarette and picked up Oliver’s books from his chair. “I haven’t read Jane Eyre for years, have you, Eleanor? There’s something about those girls that gives me the creeps.”
“What girls? Oh, Brontë girls!”
Julia’s husband Roddy is in the RAF, and the family has recently moved into Mrs. Lippincote’s house to be near his work. Julia doesn’t have much in common with the soliders, but the Wing Commander is fascinated by Julia. When he drops in, she calls him Mr. Rochester. She says to Oliver, who has measles, “Dear, it is Mr. Rochester to see you.
Jane Eyre is not the Wing Commander’s favorite.
“Jane Eyre is NOTHING to Villette,” he observed.
“No. Nothing.” Julia leant forward with her hands clasped on her knee. “Oliver has not yet been at Villette.”
The Wing Commander has toured Brussels, the scene of Villette, and seen where Charlotte and Emily studied French.
Later in the book, he visits Anne Brontë’s grave.
I loved this charming classic! And Brontë fans will laugh.
Why read anything but Elizabeth Taylor?