The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte
by Syrie James
In the same vein as James’ novel on Jane Austen comes this take on Bronte’s life. She flows easily back and forth between known fact and conjecture about the author’s thoughts and romantic feelings. For me, the romance didn’t feel central to the story. Instead it’s more about the bond of the Bronte sisters and their struggle to find their voices despite their circumstances. James clearly did a lot of excellent research about Charlotte’s life and an afterward even clarifies the few bits that aren’t factual.
I loved it because I was able to learn more of the facts of Charlotte Bronte’s life in an accessible way. I knew the general story, but this clarified quite a few things about her family for me. I cared less about the romantic relationship, though that was part of the true story as well. The book really made me want to read Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Bronte. The two authors’ friendship added such a sweet aspect to Charlotte Bronte’s life, especially after all of her sisters had passed away and she had no one left to talk about her writing. I can’t imagine that kind of loneliness. Not only did she lose her family, she also lost her community of fellow writers.
BOTTOM LINE: A great one to pick up after reading Charlotte Bronte’s work. It’s not an earthshattering book, but if you love the Brontes, and I do, this novel is a wonderful way to see what their lives were like. It makes their bodies of work even more impressive when you take into account all the obstacles they overcame to get published.
“One man cannot be everything to a woman, nor should he be expected to be.”
“It’s not easy, but a clever woman can find time to do the things that matter to her.”


CJ_Apple said...

I have put this book on my "To Read" list along with the one about Jane Austin. They both sound irresistible as I love both of these authors. Thanks for the great review!

Darlyn said...

I loved Jane Eyre and I know very little about Charlotte Bronte's life, so this book seems like a great way to get to know her.

Also, I've never heard of Syrie James before. Must hunt down her book about Jane Austen.

The Word Eater

Anonymous said...

Better late than never.....I just discoverd the talents of C. Bronte this year in Villette. Impressed and eager to know more about the the author. Thanks for this review!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

CJ_Apple - Enjoy! I hope you get to learn more about each author through the books.

Darlyn H - It was perfect for that. I really enjoyed the Austen novel as well.

ipsofactodotme -How interesting to start with Villette! It seems like most fans of her work don't find that one until later.

lyra said...

I've started reading her biography by Elisabeth Gaskell. It's going quite slow, I have to admit :D

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

lyra - I really want to read that! I loved learning more about their friendship in this book. It would be so strange to write a biography of someone you knew as a friend.

lyra said...

Yeah, it must have been strange for Gaskell too because I read in the introduction that she felt the need to defend Charlotte Bronte by making her look more acceptable to the people of the time. That's why she focused more on Bronte's personal life and sacrifices and less on her writing

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

lyra - That makes sense. It's probably what any of us would do if we felt like our friend's legacy was in question.