In response to:
Being Nora Ephron from the November 21, 2013 issue
To the Editors:
In her review of The Most of Nora Ephron [NYR, November 21], Francine Prose cites “a beautiful essay in which Rebecca West speculates about how much greater an artist Charlotte Brontë might have been had she not been hobbled by the pressure of supporting her siblings.” Greater artist? How much greater can you get if you have written Jane Eyre and Villette? Prose’s condescending words about Nora Ephron’s brilliant elliptical essays are similarly puzzling.
New York City
Francine Prose replies:
Janet Malcolm appears to assume that I was expressing my own view of Charlotte Brontë’s great novels, when in fact I was referring to Rebecca West’s consideration of the ways in which a writer’s circumstances and character can influence her work. One need not agree with West’s critical opinion to admire the beauty of her essay, which derives from the force and depth of her generous sympathy for the harsh exigencies of Charlotte Brontë’s existence.