Glass Town

Isabel Greenberg

Book - 2020

"The entrancing story of the Brontë sisters' childhood imaginary world. Four children: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne have invented a world so real and vivid that they can step right into it. But can reality be enough, when fiction is so enticing? And what happens to an imaginary world when its creators grow up? Plots are spiraling, characters are getting wildly out of hand, and a great deal of ink is being spilt... Welcome to Glass Town."--Provided by publisher.

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Bookmobile Spotlight GRAPHIC NOVEL/Greenberg Checked In
Fantasy comics
Biographical comics
Historical comics
Graphic novels
New York : Abrams ComicArts 2020.
Main Author
Isabel Greenberg (author)
Item Description
"The Imaginary World of the Brontës" --Cover.
Physical Description
211 pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Greenberg's (The One Hundred Nights of Hero, 2016) third graphic novel knits together the nineteenth-century lives of Brontë siblings Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne, along with the fictional world they invented together as children: Glass Town. In the wake of losing their mother and two eldest sisters, inspired by books, boredom, and a gifted box of toy soldiers, the siblings proclaim themselves "the four great Genii" and begin the creative work that will in turn divide, unite, and preoccupy them for the rest of their lives. Greenberg's angular, folksy comics add lightness to what is in many ways a heavy tale. Several spreads invoke the imagination as the Genii navigate the wild seas of their made-up world. The drama in Glass Town unfolds in bursting, warm color, while scenes in tonal washes of cool reds and blues signal a return to "real" life. Most notably through Charlotte, who outlives her siblings, Greenberg's work of historical fiction illustrates the creative impulse, the role of the subconscious in making art, and the sort of eternal life that storytelling grants.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Greenberg (The One Hundred Nights of Hero) whimsically blends the real lives of the famous Brontë siblings--Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and their brother Branwell--with the fictional world they created as children in the 1840s. Growing up with only books and each other for company, the "four forlorn little figures dressed in black" invent an imaginary kingdom and populate it with characters. For Charlotte, her tours of the imaginary Glass Town become more real than her exterior life, and its envoys begin to visit her in turn. Channeling The Chronicles of Narnia and Heavenly Creatures, Greenberg explores the intoxicating power of fiction, developing the Brontës' juvenile literary game--about which little is known in reality--into a place that feels real while retaining the illogic of a child's private fantasies. Greenberg's deliberately juvenile but catchy art serves the material well, creating a mood reminiscent of Henry Darger and also recalling the caricatures of Kate Beaton. In alternating color schemes, the bold crayon colors of Glass Town contrast with the drab sepias and grey-blues of the Brontës' England. Wisely focusing on imagination and atmosphere over biographical facts, this lyrical, endlessly inventive book will appeal equally to lovers of history, literature, and metatextual fantasy. Agent: Seth Fishman, The Gernert Company. (Mar.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Growing up motherless in their father's windswept parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë spun yarns about the fictional worlds of Glass Town and Gondal. Only fragments of these writings remain. Yet Greenberg (The One Hundred Nights of Hero) has cunningly reimagined both the worlds and the story of their creation, weaving historically attested and new episodes to produce this charming metafiction. Here, like Charles Dickens's Ghost of the Christmas Past, the character Charles Wellesley visits the adult Charlotte at night to escort her through her memories of storytelling, encourages her to lay them to rest with fondness, and reveals a denouement marvelously right for the youngsters' convoluted plot. The beguiling art suggests the charming awkwardness of do-it-yourself paper dolls with the bright colors of a youthful paint box. VERDICT Greenberg not only shows how the juvenile "scribblemania" of the Brontës prefigured later literary accomplishments, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but also crafts a story that resonates within our own century. Engrossing for both adults and teens attracted to alt-history fantasy or the Brontës. (See also, Catherynne M. Valente's The Glass Town Game, SLJ 6/17.)--Martha Cornog, Philadelpha

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--If creativity stems from tragedy, then the Brontës were primed for a life of artistry. In this fictionalized version of the early years of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne, the children use their imaginations to escape an often bleak reality (their eldest two sisters have recently died of consumption and their mother passed away years ago). Drawing influence from the novels on their father's shelves, they conjure up Glass Town, a complex world of war, death, and love. As the children grow older and are sent away to school or work, their relationships begin to fracture and so do their imagined worlds, but they never stop creating. Greenberg breathes life into the Brontës' unpublished early writings. Her dreamlike illustrations are rendered in an almost childish scrawl, giving the work a charming handmade quality; readers will feel that they, too, are inventing this world alongside the siblings. The art strikes a balance between whimsy and darkness--an appropriate choice given that the Brontës' own lives swung between soaring success and anguish. VERDICT Those who appreciate historical fiction and classic literature will be engrossed by this reimagining of the childhoods of these literary luminaries.--Anna Murphy, Berkeley Carroll School, Brooklyn

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