Jude Morgan. The Taste of Sorrow. Review, 2009. ISBN 978-0755338894 384 pp. $
Our story opens with Pastor Patrick mourning the imminent death of his wife, in part because he will miss her, but lamenting that she is leaving him alone with five girls and a boy; the youngest, Anne, is still a toddler. His deceased wife’s sister comes to live with them and help manage the household, and then the four oldest girls are sent off to boarding school, a miserable experience of social ostracism, bad food and homesickness. Anne and Elizabeth, the eldest sisters, take ill (like many of their classmates) and come home, only to be buried within months; Charlotte and Emily return home.
The writing is very good–certainly, it’s evocative! I got a few pages in, and having forgotten that this wasn’t meant to be a biography, was VERY impressed that it read like a novel. And not a modern novel, but a novel in the style of the Brontes or Austen–well written, long but well-balanced sentences laden with description and emotion. But, the dreariness of the tale made me drop it. The story doesn’t choose a particular character to focus on, but shifts around in an omniscient POV, so it’s not possible to develop a deep empathy early in the story, and with little investment, I’m not compelled to continue. It’s possible that the tragic nature of the story will have limited appeal for some readers, but I didn’t find it highly accessible.