Lea Ann M. (Seattle, WA)
Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael
I have read several books by the Bronte sisters and at least one biography, so I was anticipating reading Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael. From the first sentence of the first chapter, I knew I would not be disappointed. Ms. Gael knows how to use words to their greatest effect, how to develop her characters and how to move along the story of the Bronte sisters, their family and friends. Even though I knew beforehand many important aspects of the Bronte story, I never lost interest in this most recent book based upon their lives. In fact, there were some surprises in store for the reader and the anticipation of more to come kept me reading at a fast pace as I couldn't wait to get to the next page. This book will appeal to most who have curled up for many hours with one or more of the Bronte sisters' book as well as to those to whom they are new authors. You will be glad that you added this one to your library.
Mary A. (Fernandina Beach, FL)
Romancing Miss Bronte
This novel tells the story of Arthur Bell Nicholl's courtship of Charlotte Bronte.Bronte dreamed of passionate, romantic love and Nicholls, her father's curate for eight years, seems to be a most unlikely prospect. He's described as " a sort of inferior appendage to the Brontes one that performed a host of needed functions but was never accepted as worthy or equal."(p.175)So my curiosity was piqued as to how he would win over the reluctant Miss Bronte.
The author does succeed in not only revealing Arthur's growing love for Charlotte over eight long years (!) but also portrays Charlotte's conflicted emotions regarding his attentions through the use use of Bronte's actual correspondence.
Unfortunately, Gael interrupts the narrative by telling the reader what to think.For example, "There was in Arthur Nicholls much to recommend him to Charlotte Bronte not least of which was the disparity between surface and soul."(p.22)I'd rather have that revealed to me through the writer's art!
A better book dealing with the identical subject matter is the novel The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James.Although not without its flaws, James breaths life into Charlotte and Arthur and allows her readers to draw their own conclusions.
Sherrill B. (Columbia City, In.)
good choice for book club selection
The characters and their lives are so real I felt I was there with them and shared their tribulations. Also shared Charlotte's joy getting her books published. Even though they lived a hard life this book was very well written. I would recommend it for book club discussions
Dianne S. (Shelton, CT) www.booksandchat.net
Romancing Miss Bronte - Juliet Gael
Romancing Miss Bronte is a fascinating factual and fictional look into Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell Bronte’s lives. The bulk of this novel deals with Charlotte; her life her loves and her tragedies. As children in Haworth England, they are remarkably intelligent and imaginative, and I think that this fact is the only thing that could possibly keep them sane with all they have gone through and will keep them sane throughout their young adult lives. Branwell suffers from a love affair gone horribly wrong and turns to alcohol and drugs to get him through his days; Charlotte has lost her heart to a married man while she and her sister Emily were in Brussels - less is spoken of about Anne and Emily in this book and of course the book does focus on Charlotte’s life.
What could have been a depressing read if handled by any other author, wasn’t, for indeed their lives were bleak, and illness and death and hopelessness fills a lot of these pages. .
Insinuating itself among the tragedies, is a relentless hope that one day their words would reach others; their biggest dreams are to be published. And published they become albeit at their own expense. Of course later on we will find that Charlotte’s book “Jane Eyre” will become on of literature’s most enduring romances along with her sister Emily’s “Wuthering Heights”. And over the course of years Charlotte even finds someone who loves her, understands her and will put up with both her writing and her crotchety bigoted father.
I admit, that until I chose this book to review, I knew nothing about the Bronte’s and I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never even read one of their books. But Ms Gael’s style of writing, the way she brought their gloomy lives into crystal clarity for me, has made this a very fascinating subject and one that I will certainly read more about. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to not only those who are scholars of the Bronte’s, or who love the classic tales that they wrote, but also to those who may find romance in tragedy, to those who want to learn what it was like to be a smart, imaginative woman during that time period. I started this book with dread because I am not normally interested in the heavier aspect of literature-but I am so happy that I chose this book. I was able to read outside my norm, become a bit more educated and even enjoyed myself. This book really hits so many high notes that it’s been days since I’ve finished “Romancing Miss Bronte” and I’m still thinking about this book.
Wendy E. (Mechanicsville, VA)
Romancing Miss Bronte
Before I began reading this fictionalized account of the Bronte sisters, I was vaguely aware of their lives and despite having read read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Throughout my reading, I found myself checking facts of their lives on the Internet, wondering if that was “how it had happened” or if this or that passage had come from a primary source. Gael’s writing is engaging and draws the reader in to the lives of these reclusive, painfully shy women who were so intellectual, but were so bound by their status as women and by their poverty that they had to pay to publish their early works under male pseudonyms. The sisterly bond and the loneliness Charlotte feels after her sisters’ deaths drive the work. The romance seems ancillary, just as the author seemingly intended based on Charlotte’s views of life and love at the time she married. The weaving of their actual works with Gael’s characterization of the sisters is fascinating. Gael suggests that Charlotte’s heroines were thinly veiled versions of herself at different times of her life. It has made me want to read all of their published work with a new portrait of the artist in mind. Had only my English teachers made the authors so real, the assignments of the Brontes’ works might have been more palatable. Even the bits about the walks on the moor, the family servants and the family pets seem well-researched, but seamlessly blended with fictional conversations that portray the sisters' struggle to reconcile their intense shyness with their passion for writing and their aspirations to become respected authors. The novel was a bit slow to start and bogged down a bit towards the end, but overall, it was a satisfying read, especially for those who already have a working knowledge of some of Charlotte Bronte’s books. I was saddened to find that the ARC did not include the promised Author's Note, but I will read it in the published book and hope to find that Gael admits to relying heavily on the reality of Charlotte's life in her creation of this story.
Celia A. (Takoma Park, MD)
Getting to know Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre has been my favorite book since I was in fourth grade, so it was with pleasure that I read this fictionalized account of the life of Charlotte Bronte. I don't know enough about the details of Bronte's life to comment on the historical accuracy of Gael's depiction, but I do know that she breathed life in Bronte in ways that would never be possible with a biography. Charlotte is fully developed as a character and I came away with the feeling that I really knew her.