Fifteen Wild Decembers

Karen Powell


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Europa Editions
29 February 2024
ISBN: 9781787705456
288 pages

From the publisher


A creative re-imagining of the short life of Emily Brontë, one of England’s greatest writers

Isolated from society, the Brontë children spend all their time inventing elaborate fictional realms or roaming the wild moors above their family home in Yorkshire. When the time comes for them to venture out into the world to earn a living, each of them struggles to adapt, but for Emily the change is catastrophic. Torn from the landscape she loves and no longer able to immerse herself in the fantastical world of Gondal that she and her younger sister Anne have created, she is simply unable to function.

As a child, Emily witnessed a rare natural phenomenon. After weeks of rain, the peaty soil on Crow Hill became so sodden that the earth exploded. Since then, her life has been dogged by tragedy and repeated failures. Her sisters are desperate to escape their unsatisfactory work as governesses and now the life of her brother Branwell, the hope of the family, is in turmoil. To the outside world, Emily appears taciturn, unexceptional; but beneath the surface her mind is in a creative ferment, ready to burst forth. As the pressure on her grows, another violent phenomenon is about to take place, one that will fuse her imaginary world of Gondal with the landscape Emily loves so passionately, and which will change the literary world forever.

“Wild and captivating, this takes us right to the heart of the Brontës’ story of creativity, sisterhood and survival.”
Samantha Ellis, author of How To Be a Heroine

“I was spellbound by this fictionalised portrait, brimming with the texture of the dank, wild hills of Yorkshire, the weight and power of grief, and the contentment to be found in daring to forge one’s own path in the world. Delightful and intriguing; each sentence is so sharp, so shining.”
Elizabeth Macneal, author of Circus of Wonders

“A staggering achievement that breathes new life into the familiar Brontë story. By turns meticulous, arresting and lyrical, Karen Powell is a rare talent.”
Adam Farrer, author of Cold Fish Soup

“This vivid, intimate imagining of the lives of the Brontë sisters transports us to the haunted, wild, exuberant heart of history's most extraordinary literary family.”
Meg Rosoff, author of Friends Like These

“Interweaving meticulous research and exacting imagination, Powell has brought Emily Brontë’s thoughts and quirks, attitudes and gestures, sibling affection and rivalry alive on the page. The novel captures not only the fascinating peculiarity of the Brontës, but also the wild atmospheric weather in Yorkshire that puts a spell on everything.”
Kit Fan, author of Diamond Hill

“Emily and her siblings have long been the fascination of many. Powell dares to take us deeper, capturing not only the voice of Emily Brontë, but also her mindset, her essence. A bold, ambitious novel.”
—Sophie Parkes, author of Out Of Human Sight

“A haunting work. Karen Powell is a fantastic writer, particularly in her depictions of the natural world where she echoes and expands on Emily’s own genius.”
Bridget Walsh, author of The Variety Palace Mysteries

“An immersive novel vividly capturing both the wildness of the North Yorkshire moors and the wildness at the heart of its inimitable protagonist.”
Tawseef Khan, author of Muslim, Actually