Interior Life

I don’t know why it captivates me so much but it does. And LW writes very well, unexpected really. I know that I have a romanticised view of that time, so much so that a little part of me is scandalised when adaptors of the novels, like AD, appear to take great liberties with the originals. LW does take some of the sheen off my pre-conceptions but only a little. I can understand that her life must’ve been hard, insecure and at times lacking in lustre, just as it was with the Brontes. But we cannot see the past as equal to the now, it wasn’t, isn’t. Their capacity to endure hardship, physical deprivation and discomfort must’ve been greater than ours, for they didn’t have our relative comfort or security. But perhaps they had other things – is that what I crave?

My interest lies in the interior lives of the women. The middle-class gentle gentrified women with seemingly little to do (though LW lifts the lid on this assumption as does AV). Why this is the case (my interest that is) I’m not wholly sure. Because I am ostensibly always at home, perhaps? Because I have battled with my need and love of home and how to treat it comfortably as safe, hiding place and working place, maybe? But I think it is more to do with how such women made their small lives large. As Austen did. The singing bird in the cage. The jaguar in the zoo. The wild forcibly tamed, living out their pulse, their metier in confinement. A throbbing acquiescence.

I read to learn. I read to escape. I read to become more.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.