My first response upon finishing The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte was “Wow!” I thought this was a wonderful novel that fleshes out the life story of Charlotte Bronte in a realistic and fascinating way.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte is written from the first person narrative of Charlotte Bronte as she relates the events of her life to her diary. The diary starts with a proposal of marriage to Charlotte which has thrown her household into an uproar. As Charlotte states, “Who is this man who has dared to ask for my hand? Why is my father so dead set against him? Why are half of the residents of Haworth determinded to lnch him – or shoot him.” The diary then goes back to start in 1845 and details Charlotte Bronte’s earlier life and first meeting of Arthur Bell Nichols.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte lovingly describes the life story of Charlotte Bronte while remaining true to the facts of her life. Charlotte’s stay in Brussels and love of her professor, her best friend Ellen, her time as a governess, her relationship with her siblings, and the writing of her novels are all included. Overall though, this is the love story of Charlotte and Arthur Bell Nichols.
I enjoyed the love story and the development of the relationship between Charlotte and Arthur. Ironically, it often reminded me of Pride and Prejudice as their understanding of each other develops over time.
The end of the novel also has author insights, extras, and more which includes an interview with Syrie James, selected letters of Charlotte Bronte, selected poetry of the Brontes, complete works of the Brontes, and book club questions for The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. I really enjoyed these extras, especially the author interview and Charlotte Bronte’s letters.
Overall, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte was an engaging, wonderfully written fictional account of Charlotte Bronte’s life. I loved, loved, loved how Syrie James has written the love story of Charlotte and Arthur Bell Nichols. Most often Nichols is the second choice and Monsieur Heger is written as the love of her life. I’ve read Bronte biographies and letters in the past, and it does seem that she truly loved Arthur Bell Nichols. It’s about time that their love story was given proper treatment.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte is my third item for the All About the Brontes Challenge.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library