I have just completed Syrie James’s novel The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë. Depending on your knowledge of the Brontës’ biographies, this review may be a bit spoilery. As an English teacher, I knew a fair amount, but I learned a great deal more than I previously knew about the Brontës from this book.
First and foremost, Syrie James has carefully and lovingly researched the Brontës in order to write this book: a fact which shines from every page. I have often said I wished I could sit and eat dinner with the Brontës just once, just to hear what they might talk about. To be around just a great collection of literary genius all gathered in one household would truly be a delight. While that wish can never come true, reading James’s novel is a close approximation. The conversations that James conjures among Charlotte, Emily, and Anne as they write their novels, discussing the merits (and deficiencies) of each other’s work capture what it must have been like to be a writer in that family. Their closeness and love for each other is beautifully rendered. Knowing the pain that Charlotte would endure as her siblings all passed away within a short span of time, I was more or less prepared for it, but I admit I teared up a little with each loss.
Charlotte’s own life story is equal to any of her novels and those of her sisters as well. It was with pleasure that I read of her happiness with her husband, but with sadness, too, especially for him, as I knew she did not live long after her marriage. If you like the Brontës, Victorian literature, or just books about books, my suggestion would be to read this book without delay. I found it a pleasure from start to finish and can hardly wait to read more of Syrie James’s writing.
This book is my first selection for both the All About the Brontës Challenge and the Bibliophilic Books Challenge, and if you are participating in either challenge, I can’t recommend the book highly enough.
I have a fun poll for Brontë fans:
Feel free to discuss further in the comments.
9 thoughts on “The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë”
I'm putting this one on my Amazon queue.
I really need to catch up on my Bronte primary sources, too, though. I've only read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, kind of an embarrassing admission since I'm also an English teacher, so maybe I should join you in the Challenge and edify myself!
I love your WP theme. I'm not sure if it's "new" or not, since I haven't been getting around much lately, but it's gorgeous.
I have only read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, too, so don't be embarrassed. I think that's where most people find themselves. Even most English teachers, I dare say. This particular book was really good, however.
The theme is not new, but I can't remember how long I've had it. Thanks for the compliments! I wish I could take credit, but I am not the designer—only the happy recipient.
Well, I feel much better now. 🙂
I added this book and found James' The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which looks just as interesting. And next, I think I'll read Villette, which apparently Virginia Woolf said was Charlotte's "finest novel."
Great review! I just picked up this book from the library last Friday. I hope to get to it soon when I catch up on my stack!
Thanks for the wonderful review of my novel, "The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte." I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It is so meaningful to me that you took the time to blog about it. It's a real treat for an author to hear from her readers! I spent years researching and writing the book, and I loved every minute of it! I, too, often wondered what it'd be like to hear a conversation in the Bronte household, and I had such fun letting my imagination go and bringing those brilliant women (and men) to life! It was also a thrill to recreate Charlotte's relationship with Mr. Nicholls, who I adored!
I'm looking forwardto getting my hands on this one!
Great review. I love this challenge because I am discovering lots of new books — new to me, at least.
I am so glad you stopped by my blog. Thanks for the excellent read!
Rose and Stacy, I definitely recommend this one.
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