A Vivid and Intimate Look at the Brontes
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Amazon Vine
Similar to the style of Nancy Moser and Syrie James, Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael is a biographical fiction novel that integrates fact with fiction and blends true events with inferred dialogue. These types of novels have been growing more popular as of late and are wonderful for readers who are interested in the lives of historical figures and authors but not too keen on reading a biography or nonfiction work.
Romancing Miss Bronte begins in the year 1845 with the arrival of Arthur Bell Nicholls, the new curate for the Haworth parish. At this time Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Branwell were all living at the Bronte Parsonage with their father, Patrick Bronte. The sisters were consumed with tending their father’s home, caring for the disgraceful and egocentric Branwell, who was addicted to alcohol and opium, in addition to publishing their first volume of poetry together. The story unfolds from here, depicting the sisters’ dreams and ambitions as well as their fears and sorrows. Rich with detail and historic framework, Romancing Miss Bronte presents a vivid and intimate look at the Bronte family between the years of 1845 and 1855.
The title may be a little misleading because the story isn’t one that is centered upon the romance in Charlotte Bronte’s life. While there are two men that Charlotte contemplates marriage with, it is not the main part of the story. Furthermore, having read novels by the Brontes is not necessary in order to understand and enjoy this book. However, if you have read novels such as: Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Wuthering Heights your pleasure in this novel will be enhanced. I’m always amazed to discover how much of Charlotte’s writing was drawn from her life experiences and impressions.
Romancing Miss Bronte is a beautiful and expressive novel and it is one I greatly enjoyed reading. I loved how I felt drawn in to the Bronte’s world and how tangible and intense the characters felt. In addition, I loved how Juliet Gael stayed true to the lives and personalities of the Brontes. She didn’t mitigate or alter their lives; her portrayals were very accurate and truthful. My one small complaint is that I wish Arthur Bell Nicholls received more page time. The first chapter led off with his arrival in Haworth and was from his point-of-view; I would have loved to experience more of the story from his viewpoint.
Romancing Miss Bronte has a lot in common with another novel I read recently, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James. Both books tell the same story of Charlotte Bronte and her family and both cover the same span of years. Moreover, both authors were very diligent and meticulous in their research, and both books included an Author’s Note that explained what was fact and what was fiction. The resulting product is two fantastic and riveting tales about the Brontes for readers to enjoy. However, between the two magnificent novels, I’m inclined to favorThe Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James more. I loved how Ms. James fleshed-out and added depth Charlotte’s character and how she frequently flashed back to Charlotte’s past experiences and childhood, even if it was conjecture.
Overall, Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael is a wonderfully accurate and captivating tale about the Bronte clan, and it will be sure to delight avid fans and new admirers alike.
Even though it wasn’t on my original reading list, I’m counting this as my third completed item for the “All About the Brontes Challenge” hosted by Laura’s Reviews.