[Review] Walking The Invisible: Following in the Brontë’s Footsteps by Michael Stewart

Publisher and Publication Date: HQ. An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd. June 24th 2021.
Genre: Nonfiction.
Pages: 288.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Brontë fans.
Rating: Good to very good.

Michael Stewart’s website and Goodreads author page.

Amazon link


Michael Stewart takes the readers on a walking tour through Brontë country and weaves in the life stories of each of the Brontë family members in the process.
The book begins with Patrick Brontë and ends with Anne Brontë’s death (1849). Actually, the last chapter in this book is the background story of Shirley. Shirley is the last book published (1849) before Charlotte Brontë’s death (1855).

My Thoughts:

I have several thoughts:
1. Walking The Invisible is a book a Brontë fan will cherish. A person who is not a devoted fan of the Brontë clan will not be drawn to the book. It is a worthy book to add to a collection of Brontë stories and nonfiction accounts.
2. The front and back cover illustrations for the book is one of my favorites! I love it. Bravo!
3. I expected Walking The Invisible to focus on Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. I have been pleasantly surprised the book also shares the lives of the father, Patrick, and the son, Branwell. Branwell has been a little bit of a mystery for me. In the past, he came across as temperamental and troubled. I understand him a little better because of the new information and insight given by Stewart.
4. The writings of Patrick and Branwell are examined.
5. Through the eyes of Stewart I saw Haworth, the pub Branwell frequented, the school Emily taught, and Ponden Kirk.
6. I read several years ago the biography book Elizabeth Gaskell wrote about Charlotte Brontë . I am surprised the book is thought of by some people as an unfair view of the family especially towards Branwell. The book is titled, The Life of Charlotte Brontë . I’ve included the image of my edition below.
7. Walking The Invisible does not focus on a certain experience or memory for each of the Brontë family members. I consider this book to be a broad view touching on each of them.
8. I believe this is an impartial book (for the most part). However, Stewart does not like or agree with the book written about Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell.
9. The last part of the book is about five walking tours including delicious illustrations.
10. Walking The Invisible includes those who walk along with Stewart on a walking tour. I disliked this the most. I don’t know these travelers, I do not have an interest in them, and do not believe they add to the book over-all.


[Review] Revelations by Mary Sharratt

Publisher and Publication Date: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. April 27, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction. Women and literature. Medieval history. Travel.
Pages: 320.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction.
Rating: Excellent.

Mary Sharratt’s website/ Facebook/ Twitter/ Goodreads author page

For more information about the book visit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This link provides an excerpt at the bottom of the page.

To read more information about Margery Kempe:
Medieval Studies Research Blog on Margery Kempe
British Library– This link shows illustrations of her autobiography.


Margery Kempe was born about 1373 and died after 1438 or 1440. We do not know precise dates of her birth and death. She was born and lived in Bishop’s Lynn, Norfolk, England. She married John Kempe. They had 14 children. She began having visions after the birth of her first child. She was about 20. She continued to have visions. Some visions were of Jesus Christ sitting next to her. Some of the visions were frightening creatures. She is considered a mystic. She is not a Catholic saint, but she is remembered in the Anglican Communion. Her autobiography is the first in the English language.

After the birth of her 14th child, she told her husband they should not be sexually intimate anymore. She had a difficult labor with the 14th child. She did not want to risk her life with another pregnancy and labor. To cut herself off from her husband was shocking, unheard of during this era; and it marked her as an uncommon and disobedient wife. She began preaching to women, she traveled extensively without her family; and she visited Julian of Norwich, another female mystic, to seek support and guidance. She was arrested several times. She was tortured. She was considered a heretic. Her autobiography is written with transparency about her life. It is an unusual story for its time. It is a story about a woman living during the middle ages who endured many of the same things other women endured, except Kempe’s visions and pilgrimages set her apart.

My Thoughts:

Revelations is a remarkable story. It is a story that causes me to pause and reflect on what it must have been like to be a woman who didn’t have a choice to say no. No was a forbidden word for females. Females were to be compliant and obedient. If they were not, they were viewed with suspicion.

Several reasons led me to give an excellent rating to Revelations.
1. I love the characterization of Margery Kempe. She is a woman ahead of her times. She loves her children but felt drawn to something more. She illustrates what grief does to people. She has a strong personality but is stifled by culture. Her character develops in her maturity. Through her story, I understand maternal and child health during this era.
2. I have not read another story about Margery Kempe.
3. Descriptive setting of her travel mode, scenery, people, and the places or cities she saw.
4. Other female characters in the story gave different perspectives on women’s lives of this era and how they felt about Margery.
5. The story is chronological or linear. I am so glad to read a story that is not multiple time periods going back and forth.
6. The story shows male and female relationships, especially marriage. I am more sad than angry at the dominance of males over females. Sad for the females of course.
7. The story shows the different roles or responses from her children. People are people and their perspective and behavior is varied, but I saw her children showing different responses to her life.
8. Inner and outward conflicts.
9. Revelations is one of my favorite types of historical fiction: women in history.
10. There is a building of sensory, imagination, fear, anxiety, and tension.

Themes in Revelations: death and dying, bravery, courage, kindness, innocence, shame, suffering, judgement, injustice, conformity, charity, and hope.

(Review) The Last Blue Mountain: Tales of a travelling Englishman by James Chilton

The Last Blue Mountain

Publisher and Publication Date: Clink Street Publishing. March 16, 2015.
Genre: Travel book.
Pages: 384.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend. Excellent.
Audience: Armchair travel readers or travelers who read.


Webpage for James Chilton




From Gabon to Guyana, Shangri La to Kamchatka, through rainbow markets and exuberant rainforests, across impressionist landscapes and a high altitude desert, author James Chilton’s delightfully diverse collection of travel writing will whet the appetite and feed the imagination.
The Last Blue Mountain takes readers far off the beaten tourist tracks and onto uncharted trails of natural beauty and cultural diversity. Chilton reveals his enthusiasm for travel – he’s visited some seventy-eight countries to date – and his love of food, beauty, flora, fauna and, above all, the people he meets along the way. Witty, articulate and with sharp observations, his engaging and often humorous snapshots are illustrated throughout with evocative pen and ink sketches.

My Thoughts:
I loved this book for several reasons!
•Chilton is a wonderful storyteller. It felt like he is sitting next to me and sharing his travel adventures.
•He’s a hardy traveler. Unexpected mishaps occur and he responds with a positive attitude. Whether he is sick or given unusual unpalatable food he retains a positive demeanor.
•He is quick to see humor in most things. To see the humor in something instead of the negative is a quality of great character.
•All his sentences carry descriptions rich with strong verbs, and reflects the exotic locale of sights and smells.
•He shares knowledge of the culture, history, wars, and governments of the countries he visited.
•Special instances where he had meaningful conversations with the natives of that country.
•Some of the travels are for a long weekend. Some of the travels are extensive.
•One of my favorite chapters is a trip to Vietnam. He remarked on the demeanor of people twenty years post war. And, another interesting point is his tall height in comparison to the average height of most males. His height made for cramped rides.
•Another favorite chapter is when he returned to the place of his birth in Burma. A house he lived in is now the home of the daughter of an important official. He became their guest.
•He traveled to Antarctica. From my armchair, this place seems to be the far side of earth, and certainly the remotest. This place holds the greatest mystery to me because I’ve read little about travels to this continent. The boat that carried him to Drakes’ Passage was a stormy ride. The “white silence” of the land is a description I’ll not forget.
•The most personal of the book is a conversation with a teenage schoolgirl named Zed in Ethiopia. This story gave the book a personal touch and a closeup of humanity.
•All chapters have illustrations drawn by Chilton. This added feature of drawings brought an artistic feel to compliment his travel tales.
I loved The Last Blue Mountain and consider it one of the best books I’ve read in 2018!

About the Author:
James ChiltonBorn in Burma, James escaped the country the day before the Japanese captured Rangoon. Educated at Winchester, he served with 1st Royal Dragoons in the Middle East and Malaya before returning to England to work in advertising and real estate. James has built six schools in remote areas of Burma where he is a trustee of HEAL Kids Foundation which cares for disadvantaged children. When not designing gardens or sketching he is an accomplished photographer, particularly of tribal cultures, and has lectured at the Royal Geographical Society, London and in Oxford.
He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and his labradors.