Excerpt: 'In His Sights'

Author Kate Brennan's new memoir, "In His Sights: A True Story of Love and Obsession," explores her relationship with a man she thought was Mr. Right. After the couple moved in together, Kate learns of Paul's unbalanced nature and multiple infidelities. The memoir follows Kate through her breakup with Paul, and the terrifying changes he brings to her life as he stalks and harasses her for more than a decade.

Read an excerpt from the book below or click here to learn more.

Chapter One


It's my last full day in Haworth. I get up early and rush through breakfast at the B and B, passing on a cooked meal, settling for coffee and toast with homemade marmalade. I want to be at the library as soon as the staff opens the doors. Running through the mental list of manuscripts I want to review this morning, I lean against the stone wall on the edge of the parking lot. Just beyond the Georgian parsonage, white cumulus clouds roll over the moors, casting shadows across the grass and heather. Before this trip I didn't know that heather was an evergreen, its whorled leaves and waving petals so different from the spruce and pine and fir at home. From a distance the moors are a soft world of purples and browns and greens, but up close they reveal rough terrain and reservoirs full of water so cold it can kill.

"You're here early," says the head librarian as we pass through the shop on the way to the library. She looks the part. Somber dark suit. Serious glasses. Even her long mahogany hair is wrapped tight in a bun. But over the past two weeks, I've had a window into her evenings and weekends. Not so serious then. I like that— second impressions that pleasantly surprise.

It's already hot and windy outside, but inside the library it's dry and still and cool, to accommodate the manuscripts. Here dead people count more than the living. So each day I throw a sweater and pair of socks in my backpack on top of the notebooks and pencils. No pens allowed. I put on the cotton sweater now and reach for the white gloves I'd left on the long wooden table yesterday afternoon. The library, available to scholars by application, is housed in the part of the Brontë Parsonage that was once the kitchen where Emily reigned—when she wasn't haunting the moors, probably trying to escape Charlotte's hovering.

But it isn't enigmatic Emily or stern Charlotte who brought me to this library. Rather it's Anne, the least known, least favored, least published Brontë whose secrets I'm hoping to unlock. Charlotte painted her as shy and weak, but that doesn't do justice to the woman who wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a telling story of alcohol and drug abuse, of rape and escape.

At the end of each afternoon these past two weeks, I've left a note detailing the materials I'd like to review the next day. A selection from last night's list is neatly stacked on the end of the table. I pull on the gloves and pick up the first letter. I'm the only one in the room; the head librarian has gone to retrieve another manuscript I've requested, and the rest of the staff haven't arrived yet.

I'm surrounded by books. The oldest and rarest are locked away for safekeeping, available only by written request, but at this stage of my research, I've had to adopt a strict system. I'm tempted to stay another week, but I've promised a friend I'll be home in time for her fortieth anniversary party. So instead of diving headlong into each and every book, I make lists—of books and manuscripts, of copies I want made. I force myself to save the reading for home, or for my next trip here. But I do take a few moments to study the minute script of one letter. In April 1849, the month before she died, Anne wrote Ellen Nussey, a family friend:

I have no horror of death: if I thought it inevitable I think I could quietly resign myself to the prospect. . . . But I wish it would please God to spare me not only for Papa's and Charlotte's sakes, but because I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have many schemes in my head for future practise—humble and limited indeed—but still I should not like them all to come to nothing, and myself to have lived to so little purpose. . .

This doesn't sound like the "resigned" Anne that Charlotte would have the world believe in, a young woman "thankful for release from a suffering life." Charlotte keeps to one line impossible for Anne to argue from the grave: a girl who "from her childhood seemed preparing for an early death."

I don't buy it. Ever since I came across a reference to the letter Charlotte wrote Anne's publisher in response to his request to posthumously reprint The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I've suspected Charlotte manipulated her youngest sister's image. I want to dig around to see if my hunch is correct. But Charlotte destroyed so many of her sister's papers, the space between her portrayal and Anne's own words has proven as wide and hard to navigate as the moors outside these doors.

Wildfell Hall "hardly appears to me desirable to preserve," writes Charlotte to Anne's publisher in 1850. She refers to a book that sold so well a second printing occurred six weeks after the first, and the publisher was requesting permission for a third.

The idea of contributing to the scholarship that could restore Anne's literary reputation is thrilling. As a journalist, I'm known for my interviewing skills, but I prefer sorting through the secrets of the dead to tracking down those of the living. I'm most comfortable alone, researching and studying people who talk to me in their writing. Listening in person wears me out, I suppose because I have little patience for posturing, and evasion.

Some days in Haworth I don't even break for lunch. Others I come out of myself enough to join one of the librarians for a walk through the narrow town built around steep, uneven cobbled streets, and a quick lunch or tea. Sometimes I do it just because I know it's good for me. But not on my last day, when I step outside at noon and settle in with an apple on a wood-slatted bench in front of the parsonage. I imagine the Brontë sisters, dark wool hems swishing against the wide stone steps, coming and going, to church, the village, the moors. I've spent so much time with these women in my head, I can almost see them. Back inside, I work through the afternoon, until the staff is ready to leave, then pack up all the papers I've gathered and say my good-byes. On my way through the shop, I buy several copies of Poems by the Brontë Sisters, gifts for a fund-raising event I'm helping plan back home: