In this astonishing novel, a brilliant mélange of fact and fiction, Juliet Gael skillfully and stylishly captures the passions, hopes, dreams, and sorrows of literature's most famous sisters - and imagines how love dramatically and most unexpectedly found Charlotte Brontë.
During the two years that she studied in Brussels, Brontë had a taste of life's splendors - travel, literature, and art.
Now, back home in the Yorkshire moors, duty-bound to a blind father and an alcoholic brother, an ambitious Charlotte refuses to sink into hopelessness. With her sisters, Emily and Anne, Charlotte conceives a plan to earn money and pursue a dream: The Brontës will publish. In childhood the Brontë children created fantastical imaginary worlds; now the sisters craft novels quite unlike anything written before. Transforming her loneliness and personal sorrow into a triumph of literary art, Charlotte pens her 1847 masterpiece, Jane Eyre.
Charlotte's novel becomes an overwhelming literary success, catapulting the shy and awkward young woman into the spotlight of London's fashionable literary sceneand into the arms of her new publisher, George Smith, an irresistibly handsome young man whose interest in his fiercely intelligent and spirited new author seems to go beyond professional duty. But just as life begins to hold new promise, unspeakable tragedy descends on the Brontë household, throwing London and George into the background and leaving Charlotte to fear that the only romance she will ever find is at the tip of her pen.
But another man waits in the Brontës' Haworth parsonage - the quiet but determined curate Arthur Nicholls. After secretly pining for Charlotte since he first came to work for her father, Arthur suddenly reveals his heart to her.
Romancing Miss Brontë is a fascinating portrayal of an extraordinary woman whose life and work articulated our deepest human longing: to love and be loved in return.
"A moving view of a literary giant and the emotion that fueled her work." - Booklist
"Brontë devotees and those interested in British literary life will enjoy this novel, which also has book club potential." - Library Journal
"There are a number of good moments, though, and Brontë fans will surely enjoy this look at the authors life, even if it doesnt bleed like the classics." - Publishers Weekly
"A must-read for Bronte aficionados and anyone interested in the lives and concerns of Victorian women." - Kirkus Reviews.
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Rated of 5
Judy B. (Marysville, OH)
Quietly good book
I liked this quiet well written book. But whether I had liked this book or not, I could not NOT have read it. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are in the top few of my list of treasured books! The “Miss Bronte” of this title is Charlotte. The “Romancing” of the title is ironic, for though Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre--that great romance of all time--her passionate, romantic spirit suffered from the failure of romance in her most of her real life, according to this fictionalized story based on known facts. In her life, she was wooed by two extraordinary men, but only for their own selfish purposes, for the sheer egotism of one, and for material gain and fame gained by association with her of the other. She fell for the first with all her heart and soul and had high hopes of the second, but neither “gentlemen” had any intention of consummating a love affair with her. She was left broken-hearted and suffered the greater heartbreak of losing her beloved sisters and brother who died young one by one. As she grew older, she was wholeheartedly and passionately romanced by a very ordinary man who left her heart unmoved. Did she die of a broken heart at the end? Did she remain unloved? Were her passions doomed never to be consummated? This author poses some interesting answers taking very plausible small liberties with known facts.
Rated of 5
Deborah M. (Chambersburug, PA)
Somewhat Disappointing, but Still Enjoyable
About 250 fifty pages into this 400-page book, I asked myself, "Who is romancing Miss Bronte?" At this point, Arthur Bell Nicholls had JUST admitted to himself his attraction to Charlotte but had not spoken of his feelings, so I could only conclude that it was the author, Juliet Gael, who was "romancing" her in a different way, by trying to turn her into a romanticized heroine admirable not for her beauty but for other, more endearing qualities. The real romance is Charlotte's life: her endurance in spite of personal and professional rejections, her devotion to a demanding family, the sacrificing of her own needs and desires to fulfill those of others. and her dedication to her own work. The book, then, is not quite what the title suggests--which is probably a good thing in my case, since I am not a reader of conventional romance novels. Although the writing does get bogged down in unnecessary details at times, overall, Gael creates a lively portrait of one of the great women writers of the 18th century. The inclusion of a number of the literati of the day (Lewes, Thackeray, etc.) and their reception of both Bronte and her successful novel Jane Eyre make for interesting reading. The complex relationships among the Bronte sisters is also carefully and believably drawn.
Rated of 5
Gigi K. (Lufkin,, TX.)
A Good Bedfellow
A delightful read. Nothing you have to figure out.
Nothing to keep you awake half the night. It reminds me of a Jan Karon novel in that is just one of those novels that are well written and one you can read at bedtime.
Rated of 5
Karla S. (Dana Point, CA)
Fact or Fiction It Is A Treat
How sad for a family to loose its members one by one at such early ages. I found myself urging Charlotte to find true love and quit chasing after impossible men. Charlotte found her dream in publishing and the literary life of London, but too soon, she returned to the Haworth parsonage to a drab life under her fathers thumb.
When Arthur finally declared his love I wanted to give Charlotte a shove and tell her take the chance and have a good life.
Lovers of the Bronte Sister's books will find this book about them a wonderful time spent in reading it.
Rated of 5
Peggy H. (North East, PA)
Yawn, too long
I really wanted to like this book, but, when, after 100 pages both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were already published, and I knew that the Brontes hadn't written any other books....Yikes! what would the remaining 300 pages be about? How plain, how sad the lives of the sisters...but a bit too drawn out for my taste.
Rated of 5
Theresa R. (SIERRA MADRE, CA)
Although the book started very slowly, I gradually got into it and was able to finish. I liked Juliet Gael's writing style, but thought she could have gone a little deeper into character development. I didn't end up feeling like I really "cared for" any of the characters in this book. I would like to read her future books to see how she progresses as an author.
Juliet Gael was raised in the Midwest and obtained her M.A. in French literature before pursuing graduate film studies at USC and English literature at UCLA in Los Angeles, California. She has lived abroad for more than fifteen years, primarily in Paris, where she worked as a screenwriter. She now makes her home in Florence, Italy.
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