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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.
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.
Gigi K. (Lufkin,, TX.)
A Good Bedfellow
A delightful read. Nothing you have to figure out.
Karla S. (Dana Point, CA)
Fact or Fiction It Is A Treat
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.
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.
Peggy H. (North East, PA)
Yawn, too long
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.
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.
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.
Elaine, (Midland, TX)
Gael Has a Winner
Juliet Gael has a winner. The novel can be read and enjoyed without any knowledge of Charlotte Bronte. If you are aware of Charlotte’s family or life, Gael’s novel is accurate. I thought the ending came a little too fast. But that may have been because I was enjoying the book and wanted it to continue. The writing was true to the time period without being cloying. Some of the scenes in the book were so vivid, I “watched them” in my mind as I read them. At the end of this thoroughly enjoyable book (knowing more about Charlotte Bronte) you may want to re-read Charlotte’s books.
Margot T. (Naples, Florida)
When you know the ending...
Since 'Romancing Miss Bronte' is a fictionalization of Charlotte Bronte's life, much of the mystery usually present in a novel, the "what will happen next" element is of necessity diminished and can only be compensated by a thrilling conveyance of the characters' internal workings. To this end, somehow author Gael tries very diligently but doesn't always write convincingly or evenly.
The book is, despite its lack of depth, a good read and does give the reader at least some idea of Bronte's difficult life, as a daughter of a tyrannical clergyman, beset by poverty and plagued by a lack of physical beauty and social grace. The author also is quite thorough in her rendering of the relationship among Charlotte and her sisters, Anne and Emily, and the tragedy of her brother. I think the best drawn character in the entire work is that of Arthur Nicholls, Charlotte's suitor, who in the end wins her hand and heart and leads her to emotional places never before imagined.
Ultimately, I would recommend this book, despite its unevenness, but would strongly advocate also reading 'Becoming Jane Eyre', a much more sensitively written novel, based on the same subject.