Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael

With so many books out there about the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen (and their heroines), the reader might feel overwhelmed and find it hard to choose which book to read, as not every book revolving around the lives of these talented female writers is necessarily a good one. As a huge fan of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen, I tend to check out nearly every book that deals with their lives and some of them catch my attention. Thus, I have read numerous books about these great authors. Some of them were fantastic, but some of them were a mere disappointment.

So when I heard about Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael, it immediately aroused my interest and I was looking forward to reading it. Luckily, I won a copy of the book on Library Thing and I was eager to find out if the book would live up to my expectations. And I must say that it nearly did. I have to say nearly, because it wasn’t perfect, but nonetheless, it was an enjoyable and pleasant read. The author has done a great job portraying the Bronte sisters in an authentic way and those who are familiar with the biography of Charlotte Bronte and with her works will notice that the author has attempted to stay true to the author’s voice. Nevertheless, I have some negative things to say about this novel. Since the book is called Romancing Miss Bronte and since I have read a synopsis of the book, I thought that the author would go more into this theme of romance. Instead, I was a little disappointed to find out that the romance was not the romance I expected. But here’s more on why I felt this way:

In real life, Charlotte married her father’s curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, nine months before her death. She has known him for many years, and he has been in love with her the whole time, but Charlotte wasn’t really interested in him until she was left all alone with her father, after her siblings’ deaths.

(Note: I won’t elaborate on Charlotte Bronte’s biography, since I have already told you about her life in my review of Becoming Jane Eyre).

Part fiction, part biography, Romancing Miss Bronte imagines how love unexpectedly found Charlotte and shows the relationship between her and Arthur. However, as I said earlier, I expected more romance. I thought that the author would put more imagination into this subject. Instead, we only get brief glimpses here and there and witness various encounters between Charlotte and Arthur where they exchange a few words. Charlotte thinks of Arthur as a peculiar curate and gives him the cold shoulder most of the time. Although Arthur is present throughout the whole novel, it is not until the end of the book that romance comes into play.

The book concentrates more on the Bronte siblings and their relationship with each other. It captures the passions and hopes of these gifted siblings and it shows how they struggle to publish their works and make their dreams come true. The novel also focuses on Charlotte’s growing fame and her meetings with London’s high society (which by the way fail to feel the emptiness in her heart, left by the deaths of her beloved siblings). But I already knew all these things (having read so many books on the Bronte sisters), and thus I read on and on and waited for the romance to get into the game. At least, at the end of the book, I was rewarded and I quite enjoyed Arthur’s wooing and his soft side that finally won over Charlotte’s heart.

For those who haven’t read anything about the Brontes’ lives or aren’t familiar with their biographies, I would recommend this book, as it gives a detailed account of the main events that happened in Charlotte’s life. I would have probably enjoyed the book more, if I hadn’t already known about the Bronte sisters’ lives (and if there would have been more romance involved, because the title suggested it). But I’m afraid that I made this book sound bad now, which I assure you is not the case. It really wasn’t what I expected, but it was still a great novel, well written and very true to Charlotte Bronte. I just wish I had read this book before I knew anything about the Brontes; then I would have probably loved it. I hope my review was not all too confusing for you! If I were to rate Romancing Miss Bronte, I would give it three and a half stars out of five.


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. vivienne
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 18:40:33

    Sorry to hear it wasn’t as good as you had hoped it would be. I think I might start with Charlotte Bronte’s actual biography first.


    • Andreea
      Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:48:22

      Yes, start with that. That’s a good idea. That way, if you read any of these “biofictions”, as they are called, you will be able to separate fact from fiction.


  2. Aarti
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 19:25:39

    It is interesting now that maybe the Austen fad is winding down, that perhaps people are looking to the Brontes. I wish people would just leave these authors alone! I think I’ll have to avoid this one for some time. I am a bit overdone on the fictionalized accounts of 19th century stories for now.


    • Andreea
      Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:50:10

      You’re right. I’ve noticed this too. But I don’t really mind these books; they just have to be well written and I must say that I have read some that were really good!


  3. Nymeth
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 19:56:11

    I’m starting to consider you my filter for all Brönte and Austen related things. You read them all and let me know what the REALLY good ones are 😉


    • Andreea
      Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:52:12

      Yes, as I said in my post, I really am a huge Austen and Bronte fan and I always look forward to reading books about them. There are some good ones out there, and there are also bad ones, and I’ll let you know which one I liked:)


  4. Grace
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 20:09:49

    Funny, I almost didn’t choose this book on Amazon Vine because the title hinted at a romance-driven novel. But I am so, so glad I did. “Romancing Miss Bronte” was such a pleasure to read. I was always interested in the lives of the Brontes, especially Charlotte’s, because it seemed so tragic; so I really wanted a book that looked into her life a little deeper than the bios and maybe presented a more uplifting ending for this wonderful author.

    Unfortunately, the title might lead readers to begin the book with the wrong expectations, and then prevent them from enjoying it as much as they would have if they had started reading it as simply a biographical novel.

    In short, I think of this beautiful novel as a lovingly written tribute to Charlotte Bronte, not as a romance. I was pleasantly surprised; all the characters came alive in the story, not just Charlotte, and I think it’s the best historical fiction novel that I’ve ever read.

    What are some other peoples’ thoughts?


    • Andreea
      Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:54:28

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. I did too, but I would have enjoyed it more, if I hadn’t known about the Brontes at all. Since I did know a lot about them, everything in this book was just a repetition for me. Nonetheless, the author did a great job with this book!


  5. Kathleen
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 21:15:56

    I’ve read next to nothing about the Brontes so this book would probably be a good read for me. It would be covering all new ground for me!


  6. Darlene
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 23:56:29

    I’m not really familiar with their lives or biographies so this sounds like it might be a way to become more familiar. I always want to read more of the classics, just never seem to get around to it.


    • Andreea
      Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:56:50

      I know. I also wanted to read more of the classics, but with so many books out there and so little time, one might find it hard to read all of them. But I try to read some Classics from time to time, since I really enjoy Classic Literature.


  7. Alice Teh
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 05:06:00

    Hi Andreea, I don’t think it’s a book for me but thanks for the review!


    • Andreea
      Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:58:01

      You’re welcome. I appreciate your honesty:) This isn’t really a book for everyone, and I understand it:)


  8. JaneGS
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 22:30:16

    Glad you finally got the romance you craved for Charlotte. I’ve never been quite convinced that her marriage to Arthur Bell was founded on passionate love, but I do hope she had a bit of happiness before fate overwhelmed her.

    >The book concentrates more on the Bronte siblings and their relationship with each other. It captures the passions and hopes of these gifted siblings and it shows how they struggle to publish their works and make their dreams come true. The novel also focuses on Charlotte’s growing fame and her meetings with London’s high society (which by the way fail to feel the emptiness in her heart, left by the deaths of her beloved siblings).

    This is actually the part of the CB story that I find most interesting 🙂 Good review–not confusing at all, btw.


    • Andreea
      Mar 21, 2010 @ 16:01:08

      Yes, it was interesting, and well written. I think you will like it, should you decide to read this book!


  9. Meg
    Apr 23, 2010 @ 19:32:46

    I had a really hard time reading this one — and just gave up, unfortunately! Gael is a talented writer but the book was just too sad and dense for me. I didn’t know much about the Brontes and do feel like I learned a bit before quitting, but somehow it didn’t work for me!


  10. Trackback: Recent books that bored me « write meg!

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