I first suspected Jude Morgan's Passion: A Novel of the Romatic Poets would be silly, poorly written or melodramatic - probably all three. The cover does not inspire confidence. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a strong, well researched novel, with vivid characters and amazing storytelling. If you have any interest in Percy Bysshe Shelly, John Keats or Lord Byron, here is a novel about the women who loved them.
Following close on Passion's historical heels is Emily's Ghost: A Novel of the Bronte Sisters, by Denise Giardina. While I had a hard time liking the characters, I appreciated that the author was not trying to make me like them. I also enjoyed the introduction by Giardina of subplots I did not anticipate, such as mill worker rebellion. I can't really say how much of a behind-the-Bronte-novels peek this is. I would have to read biographies of the Brontes in order to know what is real and imagined. I half don't want to know because Emily's love story ends tragically, as it must.
What I found most remarkable about both novels is how they moved me. Knowing beforehand that these creative, poetic lives were snuffed out too soon did not save me from being devastated when it took place in the novels. I could not help wishing it would turn out some other way.
Between these two books, I lost count of the characters who died of consumption. I read most of Emily's Ghost in the middle of the night while sitting up with Luca. His four-week-old cold has moved down to his chest, making him cough and wheeze like a consumptive. It was disconcerting to hear his rattling lungs while reading of Emily's and Ann's deaths from consumption and no surprise I could not find sleep even after finishing the book and turning off the nightlight.