Jan 032010

An Enchanting Love Story for Charlotte Bronte

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

It is well known that Charlotte Bronte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father’s curate, in 1854 at the age of 38. In addition, it is also understood that Charlotte Bronte had a strong attachment for Constantin Heger, a Belgian professor whom she studied and taught with. But which of these two men did Charlotte really love? Did she marry for love or to escape being labeled an “old maid?” Were any of her heroes modeled after these men?

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James is so much more than a daily record, biography, or a mere glimpse into the life of Charlotte Bronte. It is an in-depth account of the most important and momentous years of this famous author’s life. This biogaphical fiction novel is an excellent combination of truth and conjecture that is a gratifying and magnetizing read! I have had the wonderful pleasure of reading Syrie Jame’s first book, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and in both books I find myself very impressed by the author’s extensive research and knowledge about these two literary figures. In addition, I felt she captured an accurate and distinct voice and personality for both Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. As you can already tell, I am now a big admirer of Syrie James.

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte begins with Charlotte the shocked and bewildered recipient of Arther Bell Nicholls’ addresses. The book then departs from present time and travels back eight years to when Charlotte first meets Mr. Nicholls. During the time of her first encounter with Mr. Nicholls and his marriage proposal is a very eventful time in Charlotte’s life. It is within these eight years that Charlotte and her sisters attempt to publish their poems and embark upon writing individual novels. Furthermore, Charlotte’s home life goes through a lot of changes and complications during this time.

I was delighted to learn more about all the Brontes (not just Charlotte) and I enjoyed the many flashbacks of Charlotte’s childhood, experiences in boarding school, and relationship with Constantin Heger. All the Bronte’s were truly fascinating people and it was interesting to see how many of the experiences and people from their lives were used in their novels. In the back of the novel a lot of interesting extras are included such as a Q&A with Syrie James (in which she imparts which parts of the story or fact or fiction), excerpts from the Correspondence of Charlotte Bronte, and suggested discussion questions for a book club or group read.

Ms. James depicted very integral and descriptive portrayal that leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of Charlotte Bronte. I dearly hope she continues to write more in this vein, I love her reverent and precise representation of these beloved authors. In addition, her graceful story telling is seamless and entertaining. I highly recommend this novel for Bronte admires who are interested in learning more about the Brontes and enjoy reading historical fiction or bio-fiction novels.

This is my first completed item for the “All About the Brontes Challenge” hosted by Laura’s Reviews.

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  12 Responses to “The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte – Syrie James”


    I enjoyed The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, too. One of my top favorite books from 2009 was The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James — she’s a wonderful author. I can’t wait to read her new release in 2010!


    Thanks for the comment Joanne! I loved “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Ausen” too. I probably will be picking up her new book as well, even though I don’t know anything about Dracula!


    I’m eager to get to this one!


    It seems I have to get the two books you mention here, ladies. I’m so interested both in C. Bronte and Jane Austen that I can’t miss them!


    I really want to read this one. I just have to find it.


    Maria, both books are fantastic! I think you will really enjoy them!

    I hope you find a copy soon Chris!


    Great review! I just picked this one up from the library and I can’t wait to read it. Sadly I have a couple of other books I need to finish first . . .


    Thanks Laura! I think you are going to really love this book!


    I understood from the website that the one which will be published at February 2010, the one for persuasion, will be the last book in her Jane Austen series. I don’t understand why she does not write one of Mansfield Park. But putting the plot into 21st century would be pretty hard!?
    Can’t wait to read your review of Love, Lies and Lizzie.


    I think that’s a shame to not include Mansfield Park! You probably right about it being more difficult, but I would have loved for her to attempt it anyways!


    I’m actually reading this book now and I think it’s fantastic. I didn’t expect myself to be interested in it (since I’m a Janeite at heart) but this book is a good peek into Charlotte Bronte’s world.

    Interestingly, I thought it paralleled Pride and Prejudice in so many startling ways. The offending demeanour of Mr. Nicholls, not to mention Charlotte’s growing prejudice against Mr. Nicholls. I am impressed!


    Hi Nic!

    I am glad you are enjoying this one! That is so true, it reminded me of P&P too!

    I hope you enjoy the rest of it, Syrie James is a fantastic author!

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