Charlotte Brontë and the man who secretly loved her
Rating: 3 Stars
By Gabrielle Pantera
“I was astonished to discover that much of Jane Eyre was inspired by Charlotte’s own experiences,” says The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë author Syrie James. “Despite her difficult circumstances at home, including the fact that her brother became an alcoholic and a drug addict and her father nearly went blind, she and her sisters Anne and Emily [who wrote Wuthering Heights] all became published authors at the same time. I can’t think of any other family in history who’ve achieved a similar literary feat. I knew it would make a fabulous story, and it had never been told.”
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë tells the story of Charlotte Brontë from her point of view. Brontë travels a bit and falls in love, but that love was not to be. Brontë is secretive, as all the Brontë sisters are about their writing. When they admit what they’re doing, they help each other. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë was selected by the National Women’s Book Association as a Great Group Read of 2009.
“Her father’s curate, the tall, dark, and handsome Arthur Bell Nicholls, carried a silent torch for Charlotte for more than seven years before he had the nerve to propose,” says James. “Charlotte greatly disliked him for many years, but her feelings eventually changed. She came to love him with all her heart.”
For her research, James poured over countless Brontë biographies. She read all the poetry of the Brontës, their published novels, Charlotte’s juvenilia, and her voluminous personal correspondence.
“I went to Haworth, England,” says James. “I walked the village’s steep, narrow main street, and made an extended visit to the Brontë Parsonage Museum, which has been preserved to reflect the way it looked when the Brontës lived there. I visited the Brontë library, where I was allowed to hold and read a selection of original letters and manuscripts penned by Charlotte and other members of the Brontë family.”
Syrie James was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Even thought James’ book is called a dairy, it’s not written in diary format. There are occasional references where Charlotte addresses her diary. James researched her subject thoroughly. James adds details that are available. The drama isn’t over done.
James makes Charlotte’s relationship and subsequent marriage to Arthur Bell Nicholls romantic, as Charlotte might have written herself. After reading this book you’ll want to go back and read the Brontë’s books. At the back of The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë there are is an afterward, question-and-answer section for the author, and excerpts from some of Charlotte’s letters, as well as some poems by the Bronte siblings.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë by Syrie James. Trade Paperback, 512 pages, Publisher: Avon, June 30, 2009. Language: English, ISBN: 9780061648373 $14.99