Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a good horror novel for October. But maybe a story about one of the greatest writers in history and her family will be right up your alley.
Like last month’s Book Pick, The Reason, I came across this book, Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, at my local library. Since my third year of college, I became a Brontë aficionado. I had taken a seminar centered around the Brontë sisters, and brother Branwell, and was immediately drawn into their intricate and Gothic worlds. Besides reading some of their poetry and examining case studies done by literary scholars, my class also had the opportunity to read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Professor, Villette and Agnes Grey. So it was interesting to come across this piece of historical fiction years after taking that class.
Juliet Gael, the author, is the pen name for author and screenwriter, Janice Graham. Besides this story, Graham has also written her famous debut novel, Firebird, which spawned the Flint Hills, Kansas Novel series, The Tailor’s Daughter, and is currently working on a new book about Mary Shelley, the writer who brought us Frankenstein. You can check out her official website here and a website dedicated to Romancing Miss Brontë. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.
This book was hard to put down and very intriguing. Since I took that class on the Brontës, the upbringing of the three sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne was quite familiar to me. I was aware of the history of tragedy plaguing the Brontë family, the moors of Yorkshire, England where the family resided, Haworth Parsonage where patriarch, Patrick Brontë , was a clergyman, and the sisters using pseudonyms to publish their famous novels. But there were some things that I did not know about (and will not spoil here for anyone who has not gotten a chance to read the book). Even though Charlotte was the main focus, readers got to see attention given to Emily and Anne and their reluctance or excitement of trying to become published authors. Troubled brother, Branwell, also had some attention and made me feel pity and hate him at the same time even though I already knew about the demons he battled in his short life. We also have attention drawn to two men that would enter Charlotte’s life weaved in too: her publisher George Smith and clergyman Arthur Nicholls, a curate to Patrick.
For anyone who wants to learn more about the Brontës, this story was definitely well-researched and made this family come to life for me in ways I never expected. I found myself relating to the Brontës in terms of love, faith in God, wanting to stay secluded from the world and any fame that may come along, and the struggles of making a living as a writer. A few characters were made up to move the story along, but they never took away from the realness and humanity of this literary family. I was transported to their world and never wanted to leave.
Even if you are not familiar with Charlotte, Emily, Anne, or Branwell Brontë, this book could be your chance to learn more. However, their poetry and famous novels cannot be ignored. I would also recommend checking out Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography on Charlotte Brontë . Either way, you will not regret reading this book and you just might find yourself becoming a Brontë fan. Or, if you are more interested in the Victorian Era, this is also a great book to check out for the time period and way of life.