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The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte: The Secrets of a Mysterious Family: a novel

2.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  257 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Using fiction to explore further his investigation into the Brontës' lives, noted true-crime author James Tully creates a murder mystery darker than anything produced by their imaginations and reveals a hidden side to their literary myth. In 1845, Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls came to Haworth Parsonage to be the new curate. His arrival ignited the passions beneath the four Bro ...more
Paperback, 284 pages
Published July 17th 2000 by Carroll & Graf (first published 1999)
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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean RhysAlways Emily by Michaela MacCollWe Wove a Web in Childhood by Ruth  ThomasThe Mist on Brontë Moor by Aviva OrrThe Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Brontës in Fiction
13th out of 54 books — 15 voters
We Wove a Web in Childhood by Ruth  ThomasRomancing Miss Brontë by Juliet GaelJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell
Charlotte Bronte
10th out of 10 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 562)
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Dec 22, 2008 karen rated it liked it
this book was a little more convincing than the one about lewis carroll being jack the ripper (which was intended as purely nonfiction, not "i dont have enough facts to not get in trouble passing this off as scholarship so its a novel") but lets be honest, the lewis carroll was a lot more fun...this book is fine, it raises some interesting questions about the literary origins at least... as for the murrrrderrrrs... well that part is less convincing but at least it is never boring...
Moira Russell
Aug 28, 2013 Moira Russell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: omg-wtf-bbq
A 'friend' sent me this....thing after I raved about how cracktastic it sounded. I am not sure I dare read it. I fear if I do, my head will melt like the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It now has its very own shelf in my virtual collection here.

ETA: this book has been joined on its shelf by the GOODREADS I KEEL YOU ALL Kindlette. That should tell you what I think of both tomes.
Apr 19, 2009 Chris rated it did not like it
Don't read this book if you really like the Brontes. If you want to know about thier private lives, go pick up a biography. This is book is just insulting. If Charlotte Bronte were still alive, she would be sueing for defamnation.
Ellen Black
Feb 19, 2011 Ellen Black rated it liked it
I've always been fascinated by the Bronte family, and even as a young girl, found the close proximity of the adult childrens' deaths to be odd. Therefore, when I found a copy of "The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte" in a mystery book store, I had to buy the book.

Sadly, the book is not terribly well-written; but, it's content is intriguing. The book was written by James Tully, a criminologist with a specialist knowledge of 19th century poisons, and published in 1999. Tully said that he, too, had been
I'm fairly sure the Bronte estate abhor this book & say none of it is true.. That said it was interesting to read - I couldn't put it down. It gives pause to think about previous era's when many underhanded and heinous things were done that slipped by the law or were in fact legal.
Lynn Grundset
Jun 01, 2010 Lynn Grundset rated it it was ok
This book is a novel; however, I wish I hadn't read this book since Jane Eyre is one of my favorites. My opinion of Charlotte Bronte was lowered by the description of her in this book. Ignorance in this case would have been bliss.
Jun 01, 2011 Mia rated it it was amazing
This book is my guilty little secret. I love it. On those bitter winter days when it is too dark and dreary to do anything else, I curl up in my favorite chair, wrapped in a snuggie and with a pot of tea on the table beside me, I let myself be drawn into this fictional tale...
There! I've admitted it and I'm still alive!

As a young girl I was fascinated by the Bronte family and their untimely deaths, could never figure out why 'Wuthering Heights' began the way it did (even as an 11 year old, I tho
Jun 29, 2010 Marianne rated it liked it
OK! I will never be able to view the the Brontes the same again. This book is twisted! Im glad a read it, but there is a whole lot of conjecture. It bothered me that Tully puts his hypothosis forward in a completely fictional narrative - even his facts are cloaked in the shroud of a fictional narrator. Tully does have some compelling questions about the odd behaviors of the Brontes and their untimely deaths. It reminds me of The Da Vinci Code in that I found myself wanting to hole up in a librar ...more
Peejay Who Once Was Minsma
Dec 05, 2014 Peejay Who Once Was Minsma rated it did not like it
James Tully dedicates his book, "Para mi querida J...—who I met when she was but seventeen and have loved deeply for some fifty years." Despite the sentimentality of this dedication, the book itself is deeply misogynistic. All the women are silly, devious, or both; gossipy, snoopy, ridiculously docile, and melting in the snares of a handsome man to commit atrocities—or else shrewish enough to drive him to murder. And worse, they are plagiarists! Tully would have us believe the Brontë sisters sto ...more
Mar 14, 2013 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brontë is one of my literary heroines. This book is cleverly written and deconstructs the mythology - or attempts to do so - I won't give spoilers, but if you've an open mind it's a fun read
Aug 02, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
"The story of the lives of the Bronte family is as haunting and tragic as their novels: three sisters and an alcoholic brother shut in the bleak and claustrophobic parsonage at Haworth.

"Noted criminologist James Tully became fascinated by inconsistencies he found in the accounts of the lives an deaths of the Brontes, and soon became enmeshed in seeking out the mysteries of Haworth. So dark and unexpected were the results of his researches he decided to tell the story in the form of a novel which
Nov 24, 2013 Adele rated it it was ok
Shelves: bronte-sisters
This is such a complete polar opposite to Juliet Gael's book, "Romancing Miss Bronte" (I liked it much more).

Much of Mr Tully's version seems quite far-fetched to me. He pulls certain phrases from the Brontes' papers out of context and twists them to look as if there is criminal intent. Also, the mere fact that a servant, even though she had been taught to read and write, could have written this "deposition" and remembered details so minutely is unbelievable, especially her early years at the Pa
Jenna Allen
May 27, 2013 Jenna Allen rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
I am a fan of the classics and I loved reading Jane Eyre. So when a friend lent this book to me, I was definitely intrigued. I have never read any true crime fiction, so this was a first.

The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte is a story within a story within a story, and each chapter begins with the testimony of the Bronte’s maid, Martha Brown, describing events from her perspective, before being deconstructed and added to by a fictitious historian. The story begins with the arrival of Reverend Arthur B
Jul 27, 2015 Karschtl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: darkish, bc, read-in-2004
Ein Buch über das Leben der Brontes. Aufzeichnungen der Dienstmagd Martha werfen ein ganz neues Licht auf die überlieferte Geschichte, derzufolge die drei Schwestern innerhalb weniger Jahre alle an der Schwindsucht starben. Martha behauptet, dass sowohl die Schwestern als auch deren Bruder vergiftet worden seien. Und zwar von Arthur Bell Nicholls, der als Hilfspfarrer Pastor Bronte unterstützte. Angefangen hat es mit Branwell (dem Bruder), der aus dem Weg geschafft werden musste um die Affäre zw ...more
Jan 15, 2013 Kylie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-shelf
I have never been so torn as I was when reading this book. For years, Jane Eyre has been my life novel, I absolutely adore it! The characters were depicted phenomenally, the setting was intriguing, and the plot was surely heart-wrenching. But of course the greatest part of it all is the complex beauty of Jane's character! I would kill to be like Jane... And apparently so would Charlotte Bronte. This book was so intriguing and, although a work of fiction, encourages readers to take off their rose ...more
Angel Pascoe
Um...not a big fan. NONE of the main characters are likeable. Nichols is a player and a murderer, Charlotte's a witch and just as bad as him and we're supp posed to like the girl who's sleeping with the bad guy and acting like he has good reasons for all of it? Read "Emily's Ghost" by Denise Giardina if you want a good fictionalization of the Bronte family. I's much better.
The inside cover of this book says,
"Noted criminologist James Tully became fascinated by the inconsistencies he found in the accounts of the lives and deaths of the Brontes, and soon became enmeshed in seeking out the mysteries of Haworth. So dark and unexpected were the results of his researches, he decided to tell the story in the form of a novel."
No. This is a novel that lives in the fiction section because it is a work of creative fiction. I have enjoyed a few books that take the documented
Mar 28, 2015 Rebecca rated it did not like it
This book was slow and the characters were hard to like. Everyone nice got murdered pretty much straight off and the remaining family members and staff were pretty terrible. Plus, there was no plot resolution. The only saving grace was that if it really happened it's crazy! But if it didn't, it's not really worth reading about.
Mar 19, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-german
It is very interesting to imagine that life at the Bronte parsonage was not as idyllic as many people believe it was (even though I think that's a misconception in the first place anyway). In my opinion, however, the plot of this novel is based on too many speculations, some of them more far-fetched than others.
Marsali Taylor
This book is great fun! It has a dual narrator - Martha Brown, servant at the Manse at Haworth, telling her story in a manuscript found by the second narrator, a lawyer, who investigates her story and points out the contradictions in the normal Bronte legend. Were Branwell, Emily, Anne and Charlotte really poisoned? The anomalies in the record are fascinating - for example, why didn't Patrick Bronte go to his daughter Charlotte's wedding? Why was Anne buried, at Scarborough, so quickly that her ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Ludmilla rated it liked it
kurgu olarak iyi, gerçeklere dayandığını idda ediyor ama kanıtları çok tatmin edici bulmadım açıkçası. en son ölen, en ünlü kardeşi de kardeş katili ve ezik olarak göstermek de başka meziyet tabii.
Dec 11, 2015 Nancy rated it really liked it
Having not read a Bronte novel in years...having never really studied them....I don't quite know what to make of this book. But if the story is true...and its purported to be...this would be one whale of a movie.
Lynne Pennington
Feb 05, 2016 Lynne Pennington rated it liked it
Interesting premise, but he marches against virtually every other Bronte study that I can find. Which doesn't make him wrong, just different. A fun read.
Feb 13, 2014 Abbie rated it it was ok
It had a great premise, but it was just so poorly written. I understand that most of it was supposed to be a diary of a servant but the language just annoyed me. I felt like it went on too long (and it was less than 300 pages!). Ugh...
Aug 13, 2014 Emma rated it did not like it
An exercise is tedium, and exposition.
Feb 17, 2011 Libbydale rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
The voice of this book is completely boring as it is a third person account of the Bronte's lives, written as if a former house servant was making a personal written testimony for the courts. It turns the well-known biographies of the Brontes on it's head and makes them into monsters. It's a very negative dark work of fiction and I just couldn't get into it, as much I love everything Bronte. The last fan fiction book I read concerning Bronte was very entertaining to read. It was by Syrie James. ...more
I'm on p 92, but I'm abandoning it for a while (or maybe FOREVERRRR) while I read other things. I sort of expect the end to be some sort of big reveal, like Martha Brown IS Charlotte Bronte or something, so I want to keep reading, but at the same time, the writing or the immediate story is not holding my interest.

Yeah, I'm giving up. Something about the way it was written was not compelling enough for me.
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
What an interesting read! I found it all very plausible but I think it would have been nice to know what facts were fiction and which ones were real. The only problem I had with this book is that it really dragged on and on and became quite repetitive. Still, I'm glad I had a chance to read this book, which was really interesting.
Shala Howell
Jul 04, 2012 Shala Howell rated it it was ok
Entertaining enough if only to see how dark a twist Tully can place on the grim life of The Bronte family. Writing is only fair, and the facts behind the soap opera allegations, if there are any (I'm no Bronte scholar), are so cloaked in fiction that this novel seems to me to be at most just one more entry in the library of Bronte myths.
Nov 24, 2013 Karen rated it it was ok
The premise seemed promising. What really happened to all those lonely sisters? A handsome young man and mysterious poisonings? But the narration lagged in starts and turns every chapter and I found myself righteously indignant on behalf of the Bronte sisters for being subject to caricatures in someone else's sad stories.
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