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Emma Brown

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,132 ratings  ·  192 reviews
When Charlotte Brontë died in 1855, she left behind twenty pages of a novel that signaled her most compelling work since Jane Eyre. One hundred fifty years later, Clare Boylan has finished Brontë's novel, sparking a sensational literary event. With pitch-perfect tone that is utterly true to Brontë's voice, Boylan delivers a brilliant tale about a mysterious young girl, Mat ...more
Paperback, 437 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Penguin Group (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,132 ratings  ·  192 reviews

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Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not many people know that this novel was actually started by Charlotte Bronte and left unfinished with her death. Clare Boylan picked up this thread and finished the novel with remarkable results. It's virtually seamless and worthy of Charlotte Bronte's beginning. I think Charlotte would have approved. I bought a hardcover copy and proudly added it to my bookshelves. 4.5 stars ...more
Sarah Mac
I like the (sweetly morbid) germination of this novel -- i.e., Charlotte Bronte jots a 2-chapter snippet about a girl without memory of her past, then dies before completing it...only to have the novel finished 150+ years later by a different author who has no idea what CB planned, so she creates it from scratch.

...Which ultimately begs a question. Is Emma/Matilda's story anything resembling what CB had in mind for her woebegone little gal? The world will never know, & I like that uncertainty.
Emma Brown is a modern-day continuation of a novel left unfinished by Charlotte Bronte at the time of her death. It's a quick read, and one which definitely encompasses all the kinds of twists and turns of astonishing coincidence that marks a truly Gothic, Brontean novel. However, the tone is much too modern, with turns of thought and phrase that struck me as anachronistic; for Boylan to have updated the novel in that respect made me wish that she had equally made the plot more suited to modern ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If ever there was a underrated novel, this is it. After reading it, I wonder why this novel didn´t received the attention and the praise of other equally goods novels as "Fingersmith". Clare Boylan took the daunting task of building a novel around first two chapters written by Charlotte Bronte and what she managed to do is triumphant. Not only she stays true to the Bronte tone but she also put in her writing (full and rich) a dash of Dickens and Wilkie Collins. The result is a mystery novel that ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Not usually one I would read, but I enjoyed it.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why oh why did I wait ten years to read this book? for that is how long it has patiently waited on my shelf. Emma Brown is definitely my book of 2014, and im keen to see more of this author too.
The story begins with Charlotte Bronte's working manuscript and introduces the main characters, and what characters they are! Clare Boylan has then shaped the plot with a great mystery and of course, a love story (or two!).
Apparently some critics said the setting in a school was repetitious.... but the s
Aug 15, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Having been a great fan of the Brontes, I obviously had to read this book. You can easily tell where Bronte's work is done and Boylan's takes up, the style is completely different, but not altogether bad. Boylan weaves an interesting story in the style of Charlotte Bronte, so she deserves some credit. ...more
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bronte lovers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aiza Chaudry
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful composition of melancholy and love. Shows the reader-through the eyes of a homeless child-the darker and the uglier side of London, where dwells nothing but the misery and sickness and helplessness of the hapless beings. Through the eyes of an ill-fated lover, shows the reader a not so happily-ever-after ending.. A grandeur tale of love where lovers depart for the better and the worse! Not all lovers are doomed but then not all are fortunate.
Jaded, these lives walk further into the
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Jane Eyre fans, I've found a little treasure! This book is a continuation of a 20-page manuscript (Emma) written by Charlotte Brontë and completed by Clare Boylan, an Irish author. I didn't even realize she had left unfinished works! I really, really enjoyed this one. It reminds me a bit of a Dickens novel, in that it exposes social injustices in Victorian England, and it is fairly true to Brontë's voice. You can tell where the manuscript ends and Boylan's novel begins, but I have to give her cr ...more
Sep 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't even finish this book. it was so dark, and in some ways seemed to have a preachy anachronistic tone. after I gave up on reading through the whole book I skimmed through it, and it seemed to only develop that tone more as the book went on. I have no idea what Charlotte Bronte's original would have been like, had she finished it, but I doubt it would have read like this book. I was disappointed. I hate when modern people meddle with classics and come up with messes like this. ...more
Jul 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Not a bad read. I found it interesting because it came from an unfinished manuscript written by Charlotte Bronte. Clare Boylan weaved in her own imagination and finished it. The story is pretty solid, though it sometimes stretched a little, following a few characters through their trials and connecting them to each other. I enjoyed it but it wasn't great (as I'm sure it would've been if Bronte had finished it). Still, it was a nice story and I read through it fairly quickly. ...more
Emma Brown was a brave undertaking on Clare Boylan's part. To take the fledgling feathers of a story begun by such a formidable novelist and try to give them life, remaining true to Charlotte Brontë's voice, despite lacking all but the smallest hints as to where she may have expected the story to go... can't you just imagine critics getting out their pitchforks?

Truly, though, I don't understand why. No writer will ever perfectly imitate another's voice because our voices are constantly shaped b
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rosanne Munt
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful language. Well-conceived characters. Intricate plot.
Karen Hogan
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Charlotte bronte wrote a 20 page manuscript about a mysterious young girl abandoned by a man at a girl's finishing school, which she left unfinished when she died. Clare Boylan, attempted to finish it, and did a decent job, but the story dragged in parts, and I found myself skimming paragraphs at the end. Unfortunately, no one can compare to Bronte. ...more
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
In the months prior to Charlotte Brontë's marriage to Arthur Bell Nicholls, Charlotte began to pen a story, familiar in theme, about a small, plain girl in a school. Charlotte only completed two chapters of this manuscript and gave it the working title of Emma (similar to Jane Austen's 1815 novel!) If not for her death in March of 1855, Charlotte most likely would have completed Emma and would have introduced yet another remarkable work of literature to the world.

Clare Boylan, who interestingly
Rebekah Giese Witherspoon
The first two chapters were written by Charlotte Brontë shortly before her death, and this version of the novel was completed by Clare Boylan in 2003. For details about the other version of this novel as completed by Constance Savery in 1980, please see Emma.

5 stars for Chapters 1 – 2 by Charlotte Brontë
The beginning of a masterpiece, Charlotte’s writing mesmerized me completely. As in Jane Eyre, Villette, and Shirley, she focuses on every woman’s need for a life purpose, the craving to find
JG (Introverted Reader)
Dec 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to JG (Introverted Reader) by: Pat
When Charlotte Brontë died, she left 20 pages of a novel behind. Clare Boylan decided to finish it. A little girl is enrolled in a private girls' academy. She is shy and reclusive, but the headmistresses make much of her because it's obvious that her benefactor has money. Trouble arises when her benefactor can't be found and the girl can't--or won't--tell anyone anything about herself.

I have to say that this novel stayed true to the whole Gothic, melodramatic feel that I associate with the Bront
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Older teens and adults who are fans of Jane Eyre
I feel enriched after reading this book, partly because the language was so rich and full, but mainly because the experiences and developing courses of the characters were so profound. The first two chapters of Emma Brown were drafted by Charlotte Bronte but, upon her death, were left as an introduction to a story waiting to be told. Contemporary writer Clare Boylan took on the challenge of telling Emma's story, and though I'm far from being a true judge of Bronte's style, I thought Boylan model ...more
Jane Greene
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Victorian Mystery lovers
I really enjoyed this book. Ms. Boylan took the unfinished manuscript of Charlotte Bronte (2 chapters). The author does a nice job of melding her prose and ideas with Charlotte's. What results is a satisfying Victorian mystery. The story revolves around Emma Brown. She is a young girl between 12 to 14 years of age who appears well dressed with a good pedigree at the steps of a Young Ladies School. Her escort, a nicely dressed gentleman, drops her off with instructions to take great care of her. ...more
Tabitha Vohn
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sisterhood, high-brow
My expectations were low, given the heavy task of following in Bronte's footsteps. But, I was enthralled, surprised, thoroughly entertained in this engrossing tale that begins with two chapters of unfinished manuscript by Charlotte Bronte and completed by Boylan.

Part of what I loved about this novel was the myriad of directions Boylan could have taken the story. Instead of one tale, she gives us several fascinating characters, their histories, and their journeys toward redemption. These charact
Erika RS
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, physical
I started this book with trepidation. Often, works based off of unfinished manuscripts are horrible. The worst of the genre being those that just recycle characters and plot points from other works by the same author.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised by how Boylan took 20 pages of a manuscript from Charlotte Bronte and wrote a story that was all her own and highly entertaining in its own right. The first chapter from Boylan was a bit of an abrupt transition. As the story gained in momentum though
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting take on the barely-started manuscript of Charlotte Bronte. It is said that CB had become more interested in societal issues of the time later in her life and she never shied away from controversy, but I don't think she'd have had the knowledge or awareness to quite take the narrative in this direction.

Clare Boylan did a good job in many ways, not least in capturing the Bronte style of incredible coincidences! The protagonist's narrative was so relentlessly woeful that I appreciate
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a gripping page turner. I couldn't wait to finish it.

In writing this story Boylan expanded on Charlotte Bronte's fragment . Boylan also took a story line that was started in the "Angrian Saga" and expanded on in "The Professor".

Charlotte Bronte would be proud of what had become of her story.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Charlotte Bronte she is not. Maybe because I read this while reading an Outlander series book, I was over details and slow moving story lines.
Mar 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
* 2.5 stars *

I wanted to love this, but it just felt so inauthentic. Charlotte Bronte wrote the first two chapters before her untimely death in 1855, and nearly 150 years later Clare Boylan took the task of finishing Bronte's work. Sounds cool, right? I thought so too, before I read it. Honestly, once chapter 3 hit, the tone obviously changes and I just did not like the direction of the story.

Initially, I was excited to see what the author came up with based on Charlotte Bronte's initial two ch
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is based on a fragment by Charlotte Bronte. I really enjoyed the first two chapters which were original to Bronte. After those when Clare Boylan took over and expanded with her own imaginings for the story, it felt like I was reading a Dickens novel. I was hanging in there until Emma went to London and from there on out, it read like a Penny Dreadful. I understand Boylan was trying to get across the misery being suffered, but the explicitness was a record scratch. Jenny Drew and her do ...more
Before she died, Charlotte Bronte wrote two chapters of a novel called "Emma Brown". Clare Boylan finishes it off in this well done historical novel. Is it written in Charlotte Bronte's "voice"? Not sure. But was it a good read? Absolutely. Lots of fun to be had here, despite the many descriptions of consumptive children, piles of rags that turn into dead babies, child slavery, and near starvation. There's a mystery child/young woman and a man who isn't her father (that's not a spoiler), hard-he ...more
Rosanna Moss
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent- for me it captured the style of Charlotte Bronte. I know there has been some criticism as to whether Clare managed to echo the voice of Charlotte. However, although I am no authority on the subject of the Brontes, I think this criticism is harsh.

I completely lost myself in the mystery that is Emma Brown. The story also takes a critical look at the plight of the poor and homeless in Victorian London - highlighting the terrible degradation of the working class and the two
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