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Always Emily

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Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published March 4, 2014

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About the author

Michaela MacColl

13 books205 followers
Prisoners in the Palace is my debut novel. I like to create historical fiction that has a modern appeal to teens and adults.

Regency romance blends enjoyably with historical fiction, with a plucky heroine for each mode. (Kirkus)

This novel is full of historical detail, vivid settings, and richly drawn characters, and themes of friendship and romance give the story teen appeal. (Booklist)

MacColl offers a whip-smart, spunky protagonist and a worthy heroine to root
 for. (Publishers Weekly)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 239 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
January 8, 2014
“I have dreamt read in my life, dreams books that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.”
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

These days, I live some thirty minutes outside of central London and I love the city. I love the hustle and bustle. I love the history and modernity. And I love how everything you could possibly want is practically on your doorstep. But I grew up in a very different kind of setting. In a place that has had a huge impact on who I am and that I continue to think of with love and nostalgia. If you haven't already but someday get a chance to visit the UK, you should visit London and see all the traditional sights it has to offer: Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the British Museum, Hyde Park, Harrods, the Tate Modern, Big Ben, Westminster and St Paul's. You should see all of those. But if you get the time, take a trip a few hours North of London and see the place where I grew up. See the cobbled side streets of York and the windy Yorkshire moors. And see if you can't understand why a place like that might inspire the daughters of a pastor to break free from the constraints placed upon them by society, time and their gender, and write some of the most influential and powerful novels ever written.

Welcome to Yorkshire.

Always Emily was a very pleasant surprise. I have a serious problem when it comes to the Brontes - I can't resist them. No matter how cringy that retelling sounds or how dodgy that movie trailer looks, I have to read/see/consume it. I just can't help myself. I didn't really expect this to be any good. But it's actually a well-researched piece of historical fiction that imagines life within the Bronte household back in the early days when the girls were experimenting with writing their own fairy tales. It focuses mainly on the relationship between Charlotte and Emily - one which I've always personally been fascinated by - and throws an interesting mystery into their lives which will influence their future work more than they can possibly know.

MacColl has evidently done a lot of background reading and, in my opinion, she gets the girls' personalities just right. She portrays Charlotte as the more conservative, more grounded but ultimately more romantic sister that she was, trying to keep the peace in a household full of vibrant personalities. Then there's the wild and reckless Emily who would rather have midnight adventures on the moors than play by the rules laid out for her. The two young women are realistically balanced between sounding convincingly like girls who were raised in the nineteenth century and sounding like the rebels they would eventually become, defying the society they lived in by writing and publishing books.

If you're anything like me, this novel might be a nice dose of Bronte-shaped wish fulfillment. I've often wondered when reading their novels and when visiting the picturesque village of Haworth (pronounced "How-Earth") just what it was that inspired these young women to write such beautiful and, at times, horrifying novels. What crazy adventures could their youth have held to inspire a dark tale such as Wuthering Heights? What led Charlotte to create a mad woman in the attic? This clever little mystery will have fans of both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre noticing some of their favourite scenes peeking through in the events that occur. I enjoyed it a lot.
Profile Image for Sarah.
237 reviews1,114 followers
April 28, 2019
Yorkshire, United Kingdom, 1832—

Emily Brontë is home from a disastrous attempt at attending school, which ended in her getting deathly ill.

In her absence, her younger sister Anne has gone to Scarborough with family, her older brother Branwell is becoming a wreck, and their politically-outspoken father has made so many enemies among the local mill owners that he carries a pistol in his boot every time he leaves the house. A neighbor has died suspiciously, someone tried to break into the Brontë parsonage, and there’s a handsome young man with troubled eyes rambling over the moors with a huge dog who might be a monstrous wraith.

This is all great fun for Emily, who thinks that the death of old Mr. Heaton and the appearance of the dashing Henry would make for a jolly good story. But it’s another matter entirely when the web of intrigue and deceit extends into her family. Members of the various plots start exploiting Branwell, an addict to alcohol, laudanum and gambling.

Just when things are getting interesting (and alarming), who should come home but Emily’s fussy older sister, Charlotte, who’s on leave from her job as a schoolteacher after a higher-up discovered that she’s been writing a (fetch the smelling salts) novel that features romance and fantasy elements. In her immaturity, Emily worries that Charlotte will force her to stop sleuthing, but Charlotte might prove to be just the ally she needed to solve this strange and spooky case…

Content Advisory
Violence: Our heroes storm a house to rescue someone who’s being held hostage. Some of them suffer serious injuries. A man strikes Charlotte on the head, leaving a scar.

Sex: Charlotte writes a story about the queen of a magical land meeting with her suitor, a debonair duke. They don’t even kiss, but the description of the queen’s strong emotions was enough to scandalize the principal at Charlotte’ s school.

Harry and Emily kiss, which makes Charlotte very fretful over her sister’s reputation (and jealous, let’s face it).

Language: Nothing.

Substance Abuse: We see Branwell, a bright and promising young man, turn into an alcoholic. He’s also addicted to laudanum and gambling, the latter being a threat to the whole family’s financial wellbeing. Branwell’s sisters feel badly for him, since he’s clearly miserable, but they are ultimately disgusted by his refusal to take even the first step toward getting well.

Nightmare Fuel: Tabby is convinced that the big dog prowling around the moors is an evil spirit. Her descriptions of said dog are quite frightening. .

Politics & Religion: The mill owners of Haworth are portrayed as universally spoiled and out-of-touch, although most of them . While this was certainly true of many mill owners in nineteenth-century Britain or America, it was not universal. Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South portrayed a variety of perspectives on this topic.

The Freemasons are portrayed as a spooky force that neither sister understands, although the vast majority of them turn out to be decent men in the end. MacColl goes to great pains in the author’s note to show that they aren’t really anything to fear.

I remember really enjoying Michaela MacColl’s Prisoners in the Palace. Always Emily isn’t as good as I remember Prisoners being, but it’s quite enjoyable in its own right.

The central mystery isn’t much of a mystery. We know from the first appearance of that he can’t be a good guy, and it’s easy from there to fill in the other connections. Many of the characters are similar to ones that show up in Charlotte and Emily’s novels—

That said, the atmosphere is impressively Brontëan. MacColl captured the personalities of her two protagonists—wild, antisocial, misanthropic, unmannered Emily; reserved, resourceful, responsible, observant Charlotte. You can see a lot of Catherine Earnshaw in the former and Jane Eyre in the latter.

Harry is a bit too insubstantial to make a good love interest, but both Emily and the book seem to understand this about him, so it doesn’t bother me too much. .

Reverend Brontë is here reduced mostly to a “clueless parent” role, and Anne is away with family—we hear her voice through a letter but never actually see her.

The only characters, aside from Charlotte and Emily, to emerge with depth, are Tabby the maid, who is clearly the basis of Nelly in Wuthering Heights, and Branwell. What a sad story he was, and the book never even speculates what might have turned such a brilliant child into such a pathetic young adult.

Not terribly deep or complex, but a clean period drama sort of book. Definitely recommended for fans of the Brontë sisters, although it will seem very tame and safe compared to what they actually wrote.
Profile Image for Saleh MoonWalker.
1,801 reviews277 followers
July 2, 2017
اینکه چطور نویسنده، شخصیت های داستان رو بر اساس افراد واقعی طراحی کرده بود، واقعا دوست داشتنی بود. طرفداران امیلی برونته با خوندن چند صفحه از این کتاب متوجه میشن که اثر کاملا با توجه به زندگی برونته ساخته شده. خواهرهای برونته در این داستان، با اینکه خواهرن، اما کاملا با هم متفاوتن. شارلوت، خواهر کوچک تر، محتاطه و ریسک کمی میکنه در حالی که امیلی، جرئت داره و بی پرواست. این دو خواهر به حل شدن جنایات، کمک میکنن. رفتارهای برادراشون واقعا عجیبه. فرد جوان عجیبی با امیلی ملاقات میکنه و قسمت های دیگه ای که این داستان رو تشکیل داده، باعث شده این کتاب به اثر خواندنی ای تبدیل بشه. نثرش ساده ست و سرعت پیشروی مناسبی داره.
511 reviews211 followers
February 23, 2014

Always Emily was a cozy, read-in-your-pj's mystery in a totally comfortable position NOT on your computer in a wicked hard chair, but obviously the star of the book is the cast of characters: the Bronte sisters. The story is told in Emily and Charlotte Brontë's perspectives. While the title implies, along with the imbalance in the number of chapters assigned to either, that it's slightly in favor of Emily Brontë, I think equal measure of importance has been given to Charlotte as well, if not in so many words. Emily's chapters were full of her and adventures, while Charlotte's polarizing feelings towards her sister and basically, the damage control. The characterization of the sisters is actually pretty much in accordance of what one would expect from their books. To its historical validity, I don't have any comments because that would require me checking out stuff on Wikipedia and beyond. Nuh-uh.

Beyond these two, the rest of the household had well thought-out personalities as well. Branwell, their brother, was a classic example of guy messing with the wrong crowd. There's a bit of romance for Emily, whose ending we can predict. All these little elements that make it more a story than a mystery.

The mystery itself I found to be lackluster, and same goes for Emily's adventures on the moors, which end too early in the book for my tastes. However, there's all this sneaking about and lying and pretending to be an idiot girl during the book to make it worthwhile. The last part of the book-the climax- was probably the best. There are fires and traps involved, and in all, fits of spontaneous and unprovoked giggling egressed on my part. Not the 'that is so funny, I mustn't laugh' kind, or the coy type, but you know,'they're being awesome and they should do this more and heel yeah! you girls show 'em!' thingy going on. (Haha! I just realized that thingy is actually a word; there's no redline under it. That is so fucking unbelievable.)

In the cover, there's this atmosphere, this fog that pervades the story for a while. And I absolutely loved it. I might not have gotten a clear picture of English moors from the writing, but the temperature and climate and mood were all very well conveyed, creating a setting that fits snugly around the mystery and, duh!, the Brontës.

In all, it was a good book for the winters, but beyond that, with the onset of spring, not everyone might like it.

Review copy provided by the publishers.

Profile Image for Sian Lile-Pastore.
1,231 reviews154 followers
October 11, 2015
Mainly, I found this charming and cosy, and I think if I'd been 13 or so, I'd have loved this, and it does have a lovely atmosphere and makes you want to read the brontes. It is mixed in with some slightly clunky writing/plot points that link in with the novels - so Emily says stuff like 'it's wuthering out there today', and there's a Rochester type character and possibly a madwoman, and maybe a heathcliff type..... Kinda fun tho, and I liked Emily's dogs.
Profile Image for Aggie Unsworth.
112 reviews23 followers
August 2, 2016
Ok i have a confession to make, don't judge me, I have requested this book purely because of the cover and because my daughter is called Emily. Other then that I went in there blind. Sometimes a risk like this pays off and sometimes it really doesn't. This time it was a winner. If I had looked at this closer I might not have picked it up, its not my usual genre. However this has been much better then I ever expected.

This is the story of Emily and Charlotte Bronte, two sisters that could not be more different. One thing they do have in common tho is their love for writing. But before they become famous writers they return from a school at which Emily is the student and Charlotte the teacher, to discover a serious of burglaries have been happening. To add to all the mystery on one of Emily's walks she discovers a boy, one she remembers from her past. He seems to be staying outside and keeping an eye on one of their neighbours. Why is the boy really there and what is he looking for? And who is breaking into peoples homes?

Filled with lots of mystery it was a rather exciting read. This isn't just for fans of the Bronte sisters at all, I for one don't know much about them but I still really enjoyed it. Emily has been an amazing character who clearly didn't want to be like all the other girls and women. She wanted so much more from life then just to find a husband and have a family. I rather admire this about her. But what I enjoyed the most was the relationship between the two sister. Weather they are completely the opposite and don't always get on, when one needs the other they will be there for each other no matter what.

What this book has achieved is make me curious about the Bronte sisters. Its probably time I found out more about them.

This was a rather pleasant surprise. I didn't see the ending coming at all and I have literally flown through this book. It was a nice quick and lovely read that I can highly recommend.

Thank you to Abrams and Chronicle for my copy of Always Emily.
Profile Image for Melissa.
766 reviews135 followers
April 17, 2014
While a lot of the plot points in this novel are fictionalized, Michaela MacColl also uses a lot of known details about Charlotte, Emily, and their family to make this book a reality, and thus, makes it more believable that a few chance meetings and overheard conversations could have create a clear for how Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre became a reality. Easy to see how their attraction to the Byronic hero Harry could possibly have translated into Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester if they had, indeed, met him.

As per usual, MacColl offers an intriguing novel with a lot of mystery. Highly recommended for fans of the Victorian period, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and the Brontës in general. In fact, MacColl's characterization of Emily makes me want to reread Wuthering Heights since I didn't love it the first time around like I did Jane Eyre.
Profile Image for Elevetha .
1,810 reviews165 followers
November 30, 2014
1.5 stars.

Two things I remember:

1. It was kinda neat how the author tried to incorporate events and such that the girls' would later put in their books into this book.

2. This was pathetic.

"I'm not sure I want to talk to a man who abuses animals and terrorizes young women."
He frowned. "I've never abused an animal in my life."
Emily couldn't help but nod her approval of his priorities. She, too, would have put a dog's welfare ahead of a girl's."

Profile Image for Emily Dill.
88 reviews6 followers
May 12, 2014
This review originally appeared on She's Got the Book:

You know what makes me really happy? I mean, besides hot tea and butter pecan ice cream and the smell of fabric softener? Finishing a book on my TBR (to be read) list. “Always Emily” by Michaela MacColl was a book on aforementioned list and I just finished it, so…yay me. :) Two quick things about the book: 1) You can’t tell me that’s not one of the prettiest covers you’ve ever seen, and 2) Obviously, this Emily is digging the title.

The book is a fictionalized account of a few weeks in the life of Charlotte and Emily Bronte, when they were young adults. Charlotte is the sensible, responsible one who wants to keep her job as a teacher, but can’t stop writing, even when it could cost her her job. Emily is the free-spirited, reckless one who walks on the moors in the rain without a jacket and is always looking for an adventure but doesn’t want to go to school or get a job. Weird things start happening around their house – strange men are on the moors, their brother Branwell is acting odder than ever, and a handful of men are getting very angry at the girls’ father, a local preacher, for his politicking.

This is a standalone book, and as far as I can tell it doesn’t have a ton of hype around it, but seems to be meant more for fans of historical fiction, English Literature, and Bronte fans. I’m all three (especially the last two), so I enjoyed the book quite a bit. Seriously, I’m a lifelong Bronte fan – my all-time favorite novel is "Jane Eyre", and "Wuthering Heights" isn’t far behind. The author captured what I would imagine to be Charlotte’s personality, and several things that happen to the girls in the story are similar to plot points in the actual Bronte novels, so that was fun for me to notice. The book was very well-researched as far as I can tell, and I would love to read more historical fiction based on authors from MacColl. There was very little (if any) romance in this book, but there was quite a bit of suspense and sister bickering. Or what would pass for bickering at the time.

I’m admittedly a complete sucker for the scenes and period of this book, which played into the Bronte books I love so much as well. Cool, rainy fields in England in the 1800s? Men riding horses and saying gentlemanly things? Young women that are underestimated but end up surprising everyone with their intelligence, cunning, and sharp wit? Yes please, to all of the above.
2 reviews2 followers
October 23, 2014
Really enjoyed this book. It really took me through what the main characters, emily and Charlotte were feeling. I loved the suspense and mystery that Michaela MacColl tied into her book. Also I was very fascinated in how this story was based on real people and their real adventures.
Profile Image for Gabi Coatsworth.
Author 5 books160 followers
February 8, 2018
An easy way into the Brontes

This middle grade/YA novel should encourage younger readers to take on the Bronte Sisters novels, particularly Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. The plot of this book cleverly suggests which events in it might have inspired the classic books. There are a couple of historical inaccuracies, but they’re easy to ignore as the story gallops along.
Profile Image for Alby Scout.
381 reviews8 followers
August 29, 2021
It was an interesting story but it just seemed too drawn out.
Profile Image for Hannah Spohn.
4 reviews
May 31, 2023
I’ve read this book 3 times now. And it still enchants me like the first time. Every read reveals new things. In the past I failed to realize the truth behind the story. It is based on the authors Charlotte, Emily, and less notably Anne Brönte. Reading the Author’s Notes is my favorite part of finishing any good read. To anyone who decides to read this book is in for a beautiful journey into the lives of some truly amazing women.
Profile Image for Keri Payton.
156 reviews58 followers
September 2, 2016
(From my blog: Quill Café)

In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through Edelweiss. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.

When Emily and Charlotte Brontë return home from Roe Head School, they are swept up in a world of intrigue. A stranger walks the moors, a burglar is rife, and one man's sudden death breeds whispers.

Wild with curiosity, Emily seeks out adventure, cloaked in the mysteries and romanticisms she relishes in her writing. Her sister, Charlotte, perturbed by their brother's peculiar actions, and startled by the hushed up history of their neighbour, does some investigating of her own.

The two sisters have always been so different, but they must come together to solve the mystery that plagues Haworth...before someone else meets a swift death.

An insight into two young women who broke the gender barrier and wrote timeless classics was a captivating enough premise, but entwined in mystery I was hooked. 'Always Emily' transports the reader, not only to the home and school where the two women were raised, but also into their vast imaginations.

The novel is written in third person, with alternating perspectives between Charlotte and Emily. From the start, I was shrouded in the setting of Haworth. The writing is so palpable, and I was intrigued by the history of the Brontë family, which I knew nothing of. MacColl manages to thread information about the characters throughout the story, without resorting to numerous amounts of backstory or info dumps.

The Brontë sisters are strikingly different, but equally compelling. Emily is vivacious, independent and strong-willed. Charlotte is insightful and reserved. Where Charlotte is flustered, Emily is unperturbed. Charlotte can be stoic and severe, and Emily can be reckless and rude. They are both such well-rounded characters, and while they have their differences – which provide wonderful conflict between them – they are both driven by their passion for writing. Emily and Charlotte cannot help but compare the circumstances they face to the stories they write, or imagine how they would translate something onto the page. It is a sensation that any writer can relate to, and really defined their shared nature.

I was absorbed by the plot of ‘Always Emily.’ MacColl established the mood of the story, as though the mystery were a cloak of fog on the moors, and managed the tension with such finesse. She had a very tactful execution of cliff-hangers, often implemented at the end of chapters, and constantly upped the stakes, thrusting the heroines into increasingly challenging situations.

Being unfamiliar with the Brontë family, I was fascinated to learn more about their history. Anne is absent for the novel, but there is still some insight from her in the letter she writes to Emily. I had no idea that there had been two older sisters who had died at a young age from tuberculosis, which they both contracted from a boarding school. The novel begins with the funeral of the second child, Elizabeth, and Emily's fearless state is only amplified by the fact that she views death as but a chance to be reunited with her sisters.

Branwell, the sole son of Rev. Brontë, was far more vital to the plot of the novel. He is somewhat of an infuriating character, and a troubled soul. It was interesting to see how he was spoiled for allowance by his father, and given much more freedom than his sisters, despite being an established wreck. It was a stark commentary on the way women were automatically devalued because of their sex, regardless of their social standing.

'Always Emily' is a riveting read, which I would recommend to anyone who loves to be swept up in a tale of adventure and intrigue. I will admit that I am utterly unfamiliar with the works of the Brontë sisters, but reading MacColl's fictional – though marvellously rooted in realism – tale of the siblings has encouraged me to seek out their work. I look forward to it, and to reading more of MacColl's writing in future.
Profile Image for  Mummy Cat Claire.
835 reviews15 followers
September 5, 2015
I randomly found this book one day and the cover is so inviting and interesting, that I wanted to read it immediately.

MacColl does a good job and sucking the reader in. I think she really captured Charlotte and Emily as many, who study them and their lives, assume them to be. I've read several books on Charlotte and I think MacColl did a great job in bringing her to life in this book.

Although the book is titled Emily, I think Charlotte present just as much. Also, Branwell, who seems to be forgotten in the bright lights of the two sisters, had his fair share of goings on in this book. I liked how MacColl brought out Branwell. I liked his role in the book and I liked how she didn't fade his character out. Anne is not present in this book. The mother and two older sisters have already passed.

I liked how MacColl talked about death in this book. Or even just showed the reader how the family and the town dealt with death. It was a bit different back them and I appreciated that the reader was constantly reminded that Mr. Bronte was a parishioner.

I think with medical technology and a better educational system than they had, we take for granted some things in life. For example, almost the entire Bronte family died due to TB and, for the most part, it doesn't exist anymore. I also think that the education on germs is just as relevant here.

The book is quite predictable. If you expect a deep mystery and a windy who-done-it, then you will be disappointed. For me, I really enjoyed reading about the characters and not so much solving the mystery. There was a touch of romance in the book. I liked how the author just introduced this desire for the young ladies but reminded the reader of social formalities and expectations, while also reminding the reader who were we're reading about.

This is a fictional book. The lives and experiences of Emily, Branwell, Charlotte and Mr. Bronte are taken and embellished. The author included an author's note. I found this fascinating. Although, she stated things in it that I already knew about, I enjoyed her explanation about why she chose to write the book and where she got her ideas from. i also liked how she reminded me about the later lives of the Bronte's. They really were remarkable people.

Overall, if you are a fan of the Bronte's and their work, then I think you would enjoy this book. If you prefer to reading about the Brontes in a very factual manner, then this book isn't for you. The story is not very deep, it is rather fluffy. The book is just over 200 pages and I believe I read it in a few hours. This book would be a nice introduction of the Brontes to a younger group.

Content: Kissing, some violence
Profile Image for Cayla.
67 reviews
February 3, 2016
Well, I promised in February that I'd have the full review up for this in a couple of days...THAT obviously didn't happen. Still, better late than never. ;)

I have both good and bad things to say about this book so let's start with the bad and end on a good note. :)

Firstly...this book is not a thriller, by any stretch of the imagination. That's okay, because it doesn't need to be but don't go into it expecting one. To be honest, it wasn't much of a mystery either, and the author showed all of her cards pretty early on. There were some intriguing plot lines but, again, I wouldn't go into this expecting a difficult and intense mystery.

My biggest problem by far was the characters, which pretty much shipwrecked any hope of loving this book. I was disappointed by the spiteful dynamic between Emily and Charlotte. This might have been very realistic of the real Bronte sisters, but it was rather oppressive that they were always sniping at each other and by the end of the book they didn't show much improvement. Charlotte could be a jerk, but I cared more about her than Emily who acted pretty stupid most of the time. Look, I love animals too, but I'm under no delusion that the life of a dog is more important than that of a human's (and when Emily stole Keeper, even after Harry explained his 'abuse'...that did not endear me to her). Secondly, I found Emily's behavior really outrageous for the time period. I mean, for heaven's sake, she kisses a shirtless man while they're alone in his tent. I don't care how 'liberated' she was, that seems really preposterous for the time period and its morality.

Also, her 'romance' with Harry seemed pointless. She wasn't in love with him - she said so herself. So why did she lead the man on and kiss him? Why even include the romance in the story at all? It seemed unnecessary. And while her reaction to Harry's at the end was possibly realistic, it did no favors at all for her likeability.

However , despite all the problems I had, there were things to like about this book. I did enjoy reading about the Bronte sisters, and I thought it was clever how the author intentionally wove in elements that would 'inspire' the girls in their own writing later. Also, I appreciated that it was clean, except for a few d--ns.

I can't see myself reading this again but it wasn't a bad little book and it sparked my interest to learn more about the lives of the Bronte sisters.
Profile Image for Kirsty-Marie Jones.
407 reviews45 followers
March 25, 2014
Actual rating: 3.5

I love Historical fiction, but it's one I always have to concentrate harder on than any other genre, but Always Emily was different, though it had the feel and context of an historian. That could either be the way it was written or perceived, or mainly because of our MC's are not your traditional brand you'd expect from that century. Emily's more headstrong and unconventional in what she wants, while Charlottes more diligent and conservative, but they both have one thing in common.

They both love to write (obviously.)

Though whereas Charlotte tries, while at Head Roe academy, Emily simply cannot be restricted.

This is a mystery, but it solely focuses on the relationship between the siblings', and the mystery is more of a sub-plot, as I said, Emily's more headstrong. She get what she wants one way or another, she wants adventure, she wants fun and excitement, romance is not on the cards and she doesn't want to get married, and she loathes that Charlotte's trying to push her into being more conventional. Charlotte wants what Emily does not, and even what Emily didn't bargain for. She wants romance, she wants someone to take care of her, and she's ever so worrisome to the point that it creates this wedge between them, and she always has to clean up Emily's messes, though she does create some herself.

The mystery is pretty simple itself, and it's quick to resolve, with a heavy dose of danger and not all of the characters that are involved come away unscathed, but it was a fun one to read, and to see how the females become to hero's.
Since I'm not a diehard Bronte fan, I can't accurately say if the research has been done well or not, but it certainly feels like it has, and it's vivid in its imagery.

~~A copy was provided by Chronicle books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.~

Review originally posted on Studio Reads

Profile Image for Emily - Reads Must.
97 reviews21 followers
April 10, 2014
I'm not going to sit here and say that it was perfect, it wasn't, but it had a kind of charm about it that made reading Always Emily really enjoyable. The story itself swaps between the two sisters as they uncover things in their local town aren't quite as they seem. Charlotte's approach being - in most parts - thought through and meticulous, where as Emily runs head first into trouble. But the question throughout the book is whether or not they can find a way to work together? Despite they're differences can they stop another 'accident' from happening.

The story has a very strong Brontë feel too it. It's been ridiculously well researched and there's no denying the period in which the tale is set. And for those of you that struggle with the classics - not because of their stories but the text - this is the perfect compromise, as it's easy to follow and get lost in. Lost, in a good way that is.

The thing I liked the most about this was the comparisons between the sisters and their famous literary heroines. Emily has this unfaltering connection to the moors and a ruthlessness that reminds me of Cathy. Charlottes similarities to Jane are a lot more obvious and at time I found it hard to tell where Charlotte stopped and Jane began. The book teases with the inspirations behind some of our most beloved literary women.

As for the 'mysterious and handsome stranger'? I don't want to give anything away - so I won't - just keep an eye out for him. He's kind of important!

There isn't a huge love story in this, which is strange for a YA novel. However, that doesn't take away from it's charm. I'm a big believer in epic romances but the bond between the two sisters is more than enough to melt your hearts and have you smiling - without the need for some tall dark and handsome hottie with rippling muscles and... wait I'm going off track.

Overall it's a good read, that has a lot of different things going for it. I truly believe that it will entertain not just the usual YA readers but also an older audience. So, give this one a go lovelies. It has my wax-seal of approval!
Profile Image for Kayla.
999 reviews65 followers
February 27, 2014
I've only read one book by the Bronte sisters-Jane Eyre. But I've heard much about their lives and have been fascinated that such talented writers could all grow up in the same household. While MacColl obviously takes liberties in recreating the lives of this well-known family, the plot really worked for me. I found it gripping, particularly towards the end, and I loved how at the finish of the book there was a detailed explanation of what was historically accurate and what the author placed in herself!

Although the book gets very exciting at the end due to the sisters unraveling the mystery, there are portions of the book beforehand that set up the novel and took a while longer for me to get through. It was almost like the pacing of Jane Eyre and how I assume the other Bronte books would go. I'm unsure of whether that was done purposefully or not; if it was then it was brilliantly done because this novel had the feel of a timeless classic accompanied by modern writing that made it much less of a chore to get through. I know that there are people who don't enjoy the Bronte writings, maybe because it's harder to relate to them, but this is definitely a novel that anyone can get behind.

Charlotte and Emily both had traits that frustrated me yet simultaneously made them seem more real. I felt like they could simply step out of the pages of the book because they could be charming and then do something real and human. The sisters had a rocky relationship as well. With their different personalities it's no wonder that they never got along perfectly, yet when they both set aside their differences wonderful, interesting things happened.

If you're looking for something different to read then this is certainly a book you should pick up. It was interesting, intense, and painted a romantic Gothic landscape that was incredibly captivating. I do hope that more books about the Bronte sisters will follow; at the very least I'll be looking forward to reading more from this author!

Profile Image for Cari.
1,157 reviews37 followers
June 12, 2015
Always Emily is a fictional story based on a lot of real-life details in the lives of the talented (and in my opinion, tragic) Bronte sisters. I was really intrigued by this book, as I'm a big fan of both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and I'm an absolute sucker for books set in the dreary moors of England.

To be honest, I spent much of the book feeling disappointed. The dialogue was often really dry and I felt like it took quite a while before the story really, fully captured my attention, but my biggest problem with the book was also one of the aspects that attracted me to it in the first place: the setting. When I read a book set in 19th century England among the moors and boggy countryside, I want to see the fog rising up into a dark gray sky and feel the melancholy, eerie mood of the landscape. This book lacked that imagery and if it had not straight-forwardly stated that the characters were in a moor, I would have never known it. Darn it!

What I did really enjoy about Always Emily, however, was all of the attention that was paid to historical detail. Really, it was the note from the author at the end of the book that discussed the lives of the Brontes and how she incorporated real facts about their personalities and life events into a fictional story, that took this from a three-star book to a four-star one. These were fascinating young women and it's sad to think of the other classics they may have produced if each had not died of tuberculosis at such a young age!

Fans of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights will also appreciate the quotes at the beginning of each new chapter in Always Emily . I love how Emily says in this book that she wouldn't write happy endings in her books... It made me smile and think of Cathy and Heathcliff--and desperately made me want to revisit Wuthering Heights!

The author of this book says that we can each choose our own favorite Bronte... Well Michaela MacColl, although I probably see more of myself in Charlotte, I choose Emily! :)
Profile Image for Ariella.
209 reviews
March 16, 2014
*A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review*

Always Emily is a book about the adventure of the two Bronte sisters. This is my first Machela MacColl book and I must say I enjoyed myself a lot!

Emily and Charlotte Bronte are two very different sisters. Emily is adventurous while Charlotte is cautious. A few events that happen in their town lead them to try and solve the mystery. Along the way, they also meet Harry, Emily's childhood friend, who is part of the whole thing. Harry has come back into town to try and save his mother and the sisters are going to help him.

I really loved reading about the sisters. Their contrasting personality is very fun and leads to some debates between the two. I really love Harry as well. He's the "handsome stranger" and he has a strong love for his mother. I couldn't help myself as I was sucked in by the great narrative voice of Emily and Charlotte. I liked Emily's voice better of the two because she was headstrong and always just doing what she wanted. A short quote from the Bronte sisters' books were also put at the start of every chapter to set the mood.

Here's a lovely quote from the book:

Emily reached out and touched his hand. "Harry," she said gently. "You do realize you couldn't stop me?"
He grasped her hand in his and brought it to his lips. "If I can't stop you, then I must help you."
Emily paused, her whole world narrowed to the soft pressure of his lips on her hand. They were alone in the dark and Harry was kissing her hand. A scene from one of her stories. Or, more likely, Charlotte's.
- Always Emily by Michaela MacColl (pg 157, ARC)

Always Emily is a fantastic YA historical fiction about the Bronte sisters. I loved it with its two witty heroines and the local mystery. With its nice blend of both adventure and romance, it will definitely pull the reader in completely.

Rating: B
Profile Image for Jaylia3.
752 reviews132 followers
April 11, 2014
Readers already acquainted with the Brontë sisters and their stories will have multiple mini-thrills (and possibly a few snorts) of recognition reading Always Emily, a highly suspenseful cozy mystery featuring Emily and Charlotte as unlikely but determined heroines who put themselves in perilous situations worthy of characters in their juvenilia writing when they join forces to rescue a woman kidnapped and held against her will. The author has done her research about the Brontës and their lives, and though the characters are of course simplified they are spot-on recognizable. Charlotte is responsible, bossy, near sighted, and small in stature, while Emily is a tall wild child who loves to run loose on the moors doesn’t trust doctors.

The third sister, Anne Brontë, is mostly offstage visiting friends with their aunt, but their increasingly dissolute brother Branwell is back from London after his Art Academy studies fell apart and he’s getting himself mixed up in all kinds of trouble. Also on hand is their crusading father Rev. Bronte, their long time housekeeper Tabitha Aykroyd, and even an author conceived, very appealing Rochester/Heathcliff character, if you can imagine that combination. Freemasons, striking mill-workers, inheritance laws, greedy relatives, parish politics, and hints of the novels to come all play a part in the plot and help to make this a fun, fast read. I read a review copy of this book supplied by the publisher through LibraryThing. The opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Laura.
529 reviews36 followers
March 26, 2018
MacColl did her research. Details from this delightful little book were historically accurate - characters, places, relationships. This novel centers around the two older Brönte sisters - Charlotte and Emily. I liked the way she portrayed their relationship. The sisters' different personalities led to several disagreements and added conflict to the storyline - at times, you just wished they would confide in one another to make things easier on themselves! In the end, though, they realized that working together would be for the better good.
While the author wrote in a more modern tone (I don't think a caretaker in Brönte's day would have told a wealthy business man to "shut up"), it still held true to the personalities and sense of adventure of the girls. Emily's love of the moors and both sisters' passion for writing were clearly portrayed, and one could easily see these characters going on to write their own novels. There was a lot of mystery involved in their adventure -- a secret society, a mysterious woman, a handsome stranger, a missing mother, an unusual series of burglaries, and even talks of a beast roaming the moors -- all very Brönte-esque, yet written in language that would appeal young adult readers.

Would I recommend this to by BFF? Sure!
Would I recommend this to my teen daughter? Absolutely. It's definitely well-suited for children to read.

4 of 5 stars. It was good, but not wowing.
Profile Image for Thaynes4.
16 reviews
March 29, 2015
I love how this author creates books based on real-life characters, perhaps heroines in their own rights, in this case the Bronte sisters, and fleshes the characters out so remarkably that they simply spring to life on her pages. Fans of the Brontes' work will find hints of their stories in the events of the sisters' own lives in their father's parsonage on the moors. Always Emily opens with the Bronte siblings (the remaining ones anyhow) at their sister Elizabeth's funeral. Although they are related by blood, the sisters couldn't be different. Charlotte, the older sister, is careful and takes few risks while Emily is daring and impulsive. Fast forward 10 years, and not much has changed with the sister's relationship with one another. Emily gets sick while away at school and returns home, followed shortly by Charlotte (who has been asked to take some time off from teaching). Although they share a love for writing, it's safe to say that they don't understand one another. As the sisters work to solve several mysteries about several local burglaries, their brother's strange behavior, and the rudeness of a local landowner, a mysterious young man Emily meets and a chance encounter with a woman desperate to escape her circumstances will all take on much significance over the course of time. I thoroughly enjoyed this peak into the formative years and events of two women whose books still remain popular to this day. Enter mystery, scandal, and possible murder.
Profile Image for Paula  Phillips.
4,953 reviews306 followers
June 26, 2014
Oh, how I love renditions and stories based on the Bronte sisters and my favourite classic tales of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Always Emily takes us into the family life of the Brontes starting with the death of their mother and two sisters and then Charlotte's move to boarding school and eventually Emily's. Emily is unhappy at school and somehow ends up sick and sent home where she is comfortable wandering through the Wuthering moors which inspired the book "Wuthering Heights". Soon Charlotte returns home after the school catches her writing about handsome Dukes etc as this is deemed inappropriate for a governess. During this time though, their neighbour Mr. Heaton has been killed and it seems that is son Robert stands to inherit the entire fortune but Robert has a secret, a dark one that the Bronte Sisters seem fit to discover and sought out the truth as he is hiding and making his sister Rachel go mad so he can inherit everything and he is using his powers and connections as a Freemason to make it work to his advantage. Can the girls stop him before he commits his wicked ways with Rachel and have her admitted to the asylum. This event is where the book "Jane Eyre" was inspired from.
If you love the Bronte Sisters, then Always Emily is the perfect read for you and I will state that you will find it as awesome as I did and enjoyable and worth your time.
Profile Image for Bayla.
1,003 reviews
February 26, 2014
*Review of ARC*

*3.5 stars*

Buzzwords: Historical fiction, Bronte sisters, Gothic, Sibling rivalry, romance (mild), madness, protection, freedom & responsibility

Charlotte Bronte is the oldest, now that her older sisters have died, and she takes that responsibility seriously. She’s bossy and controlled and dutifully serious. Emily is wild and creative and reckless, and the two sisters clash constantly. But when brother Branwell begins to act suspicious, a woman begs Charlotte for help on the moor and a mysterious stranger looking to free his mother finds Emily, the two sisters will have to overcome their differences to save the day.
Poor Charlotte. I felt so bad for her, overshadowed by Emily as she was – Ms. MacColl showed the legitimacy of her feelings very well, even as she also showed why Charlotte got on other people’s nerves. I appreciated how different the sisters were, and why they fought – but also why they were able to be so effective together; and they are certainly interesting characters to think about. I also very much appreciated the thorough author’s note.

Cleanreaders: One kiss, man keeps woman locked up/drugged and is somewhat violent, woman is struck in the face
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.3k reviews277 followers
February 17, 2014
I love how this author creates books based on real-life characters, perhaps heroines in their own rights, in this case the Bronte sisters, and fleshes the characters out so remarkably that they simply spring to life on her pages. Fans of the Brontes' work will find hints of their stories in the events of the sisters' own lives in their father's parsonage on the moors. Although they are related by blood, the sisters couldn't be different. Charlotte, the older sister, is careful and takes few risks while Emily is daring and impulsive. Although they share a love for writing, it's safe to say that they don't understand one another. As the sisters work to solve several mysteries about several local burglaries, their brother's strange behavior, and the rudeness of a local landowner, a mysterious young man Emily meets and a chance encounter with a woman desperate to escape her circumstances will all take on much significance over the course of time. I thoroughly enjoyed this peak into the formative years and events of two women whose books still remain popular to this day.
Profile Image for Jennifer Fox.
182 reviews30 followers
April 12, 2014
I received an e-galley from the publisher for review purposes.

Earlier this year, I had decided to reread Wuthering Heights. It was interesting, but I stalled a bit. Reading this novel about the life of Emily and Charlotte Bronte in their teen years revived my interest.

Michaela MacColl writes historical fiction that will appeal to fans of the genre, but while I read it at times, it's not my favorite genre, and I always enjoy her books. Her books are written for an older middle grade through young adult audience (probably 5th to 8th grade), but are so enjoyable for adults as well.

One doesn't have to be familiar with the Bronte sisters to enjoy this book. Other than having read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, I didn't know much about them. This is a typical story of sibling rivalry, of rebellion, family drama and loss, with a little mystery and a tiny bit of romance thrown in. Who doesn't love that?

I can't recommend MacColl's novels highly enough, and this one is no exception.

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