Rachel Cantor has recently published Half-Life of a Stolen Sister. The imaginative novel follows the lives of the Brontë siblings—Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and brother Branwell—retelling their story from the beginning in their precocious childhoods, to the writing of their renowned novels, to their early deaths. The work is a form-shattering novel written by an author praised as “laugh-out-loud hilarious and thought-provokingly philosophical” (Boston Globe).
The novel-by-stories book beautifully brings together diaries, letters, home movies, television and radio interviews, deathbed monologues and fragments from the sprawling invented worlds of the siblings’ childhood. The writing explores how the three sisters were able to produce literary landmarks that have withstood the ages and how their lives and circumstances brought the children together in greatness. Rachel Cantor is able to meld known biographical facts with storytelling to depict the family’s genius, their bonds of love and duty, impassioned creativity, and the ongoing tolls of illness, isolation, and loss.
Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of The Evening Hero, praised Cantor’s reimagining of the Brontë family, “With humor and heart, Rachel Cantor paints a vivid, multi-voiced picture of the Brontës via a shape-shifting, time-bending tapestry of unforgettable characters and situations. Whether you’re a fan of this literary family or not, this book is a must-read for anyone looking for a truly innovative, tender, and humorous take on genius, the creative process, family, and life.”
Read some of the book’s other reviews below:
“Cantor pulls out all the stops to make this a unique and unforgettable reading experience that is as difficult to describe as it is to set down . . . Clever without straining, true to the basic facts of the Brontë family history, and emotionally compelling as the children grow while continuously facing new obstacles, Cantor’s unusual tale can be read and reread for endless diversion.”
“Cantor spins a free-ranging and intriguing tale of a literary family inspired by the Brontës that incorporates a mix of forms and anachronistic details . . . Cantor’s frisky and time-collapsing blend of forms elevates the experiment above run-of-the-mill Brontë fodder . . . For Brontë fans, this is a jolt of fresh air.”
“[Cantor’s] take on [the Brontës’] lives plays fair with their limited life spans and general relationships to each other and the world while throwing them into a setting replete with bagels, McMansions, subways, television, and soy milk. The structure of the novel is playful . . . with a few surprising insights.”
“Innovative . . . Cantor spins the known biographies of the Brontë siblings into a surrealist, eccentric story where modernity blends with the archaic … Retells the story of the Brontë family with flair.”
—Foreword Reviews, Starred Review
Rachel Cantor is the author of the novels Half-Life of a Stolen Sister (Soho Press 2023), Good on Paper (Melville House 2016), and A Highly Unlikely Scenario (Melville House 2014). Two dozen of her stories have been published in the Paris Review, One Story, Ninth Letter, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and elsewhere, and she has written about fiction for National Public Radio, the Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is writing a series of middle grade and young adult books set in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Rachel Cantor was interviewed in Issue 17 of Superstition Review. View it here.