These two classic novels, together with Brontë's well-known Jane Eyre and Villette, comprise a magnificent oeuvre, each one a singular achievement of characterization, human understanding, and narrative elegance and drama. Shirley is the story of a complicated friendship between two very different women: shy and socially constrained Caroline, the poor niece of a tyrannical clergyman; and the independent heiress Shirley, who has both the resources and the spirit to defy convention. The romantic entanglements of the two women with a local mill owner and his penniless brother pit the claims of passion against the boundaries of class and society. The Professor-the first novel Brontë completed, the last to be published-is both a disturbing love story and the coming-of-age tale of a self-made man. At its center is William Crimsworth, who has come to Brussels to work as an instructor in a school for girls. When he becomes entangled with Zoräide Reuter, a charismatic and brilliantly intellectual woman, the fervor of her feelings threatens both her own engagement and William's chance of finding true love.
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