Ash Bruxvoort's Reviews > The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James
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Dec 27, 09

Read in November, 2009

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James is a fictional account of the life of Charlotte Bronte. Charlotte grew up with two sisters and a brother under the supervision of her parson father. The book mainly focuses on the love interests of Charlotte Bronte, her teacher Monsieur Heger and her father's curate Arthur Nicholls. It is a brutally honest account of Charlotte's life, including descriptive scenes of Branwell's drunken crazes. James allows Bronte to explore her feelings on every subject, alcohol, love, sex, and family. It also documents the writing of her four novels as well as the writing practices shared between her and her two sisters, Emily and Anne. After the death of Emily and Anne, Charlotte experienced a drastic change in her writing ability and habits. While the novel doesn't come out and say it directly, it is pretty clear that the absence of her sisters contributed to the lower success level of her final two novels.

Since Charlotte Bronte wrote my favorite book I had high expectations to for this novel. It met those expectations, for the most part. I have to admit that I couldn't put this book down. I saw a lot of my own experiences in Charlotte's, even though she lived in a very different world from mine. James does an amazing job making Bronte into a character we can empathize with and understand. Just a few days ago I was telling a friend of mine that if Charlotte Bronte haunted me I would be terrified. I said she would probably be really mean. After reading this book, my entire view of Bronte has changed.

As much as I loved it, I did have a few problems with this novel. Some of the footnotes were annoying and unnecessary, of course I'm assuming that anyone who would read this book would have some prior knowledge about Charlotte Bronte. There were also some language choices that felt a little too contemporary for me. When I came across them I became annoyed, really. James makes up for it with her frequently asked questions section in the back of the book, as well as the inclusion of sections of Bronte's letters. I was pleased that she came out and said what was true and what was false, and also that she mostly stuck to the story of Bronte's life.

This book evoked ever emotion from me. I laughed at Bronte's humor, empathized with her foibles, and cried in grief and joy with her. A must read for any Bronte fan.

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