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Mardi McConnochie
Adult Fiction MCCONNO

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Three sisters named Charlotte, Emily and Anne have literary aspirations in Australian writer McConnochie's intriguing but overwrought first novel. In this scenario, however, the family name is not Bront?, but Wolf, and they live far from the Yorkshire moors, in Coldwater, a penal colony off the coast of Australia, where their father reigns as an enlightened dictator. Well educated and graced with a philosophic turn of mind, Capt. Edward Wolf is nonetheless capable of inflicting brutal punishments on the prisoners and behaving in tyrannical fashion toward his daughters. By 1847, when the narrative begins, the family has lived on Coldwater for eight years. To relieve their boredom and in hopes of earning an income, the sisters decide to write novels, an undertaking that coincides with the arrival of a brooding, enigmatic Irish convict. When Capt. Wolf appoints Finn O'Connell as his valet, bringing him into the family cottage, the sexually charged atmosphere is inevitable. Charlotte serves as the principal narrator of the novel, providing a blunt, tart perspective on events and engaging the reader with her pragmatic attitude and loyalty to her family. Ultra-sensitive Emily's breathless, tormented musings reflect her volatile mental state; Anne's thoughts are rendered third person, as are her father's journals, in which he records his theories of prison management. After he forbids his daughters to continue their own writing, blaming the "pernicious rubbish" of romances for their untrustworthy behavior, he slips into madness, raving about betrayal and conspiracies. When Anne encounters a mysterious man who then involves her in a prison uprising, the novel slips into melodrama, culminating in prison revolts and considerable angst acted out near cliffs and roiling seas. McConnochie's attempt at imaginative Bront? revisionism has some commendable aspects, notably her depiction of the siblings' different personalities, but the narrative founders in the character of Capt. Wolf, whose behavior is enigmatic throughout . (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Wolf live on Coldwater, a penal colony off the coast of Australia where their father serves as prison governor. Captain Wolf takes pride in his island domain and its inviolability: no prisoners have ever escaped. Hoping to create the perfect prison, he is stern and unbending. His ideas about prison management work well until a new prisoner named Finn O'Connell arrives from Ireland. This most unusual convict benefits from the captain's desire to create a model prisoner. Eventually, however, one of the captain's daughters develops feelings for the young man, starting a chain of events that ultimately threatens the security and emotional well-being of the entire family. Obviously modeled after the Bront sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are aspiring novelists who long for a different kind of existence and look forward to leaving Coldwater eventually. Australian playwright McConnochie, who has done a great deal of research about the Bronts, writes the story of the Wolf girls with compassion and understanding. Highly recommended for all public libraries. Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Captain Wolf
Prison warden

Age: 31
Eldest sister.

Sensitive; romantic.


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