Rated of 5
by 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.