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The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte Paperback – 15 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (15 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006164837X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061648373
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“I DID NOT WANT THIS STORY TO END. For fans of biographical tales and romance, Syrie’s story of Charlotte offers it all: longing and yearning, struggle and success, the searing pain of immeasurable loss, and the happiness of a love that came unbidden and unsought.” (Jane Austens World)

“Faithful to the writer’s language, time, and place. This is BOUND TO FASCINATE admirers of the doomed Brontës.” (Library Journal)

“James takes the biography of Brontë and sketches it into a work of art … The availability of specific, passionate details is what gives the book its main pull … A CAN’T-MISS NOVEL for Brontë fans and historical fiction buffs alike.” (Sacramento Book Review)

“AN ENCHANTING LOVE STORY FOR CHARLOTTE BRONTE … 5 stars. An excellent combination of truth and conjecture that is a gratifying and magnetizing read! … I love [James’s] reverent and precise representation of these beloved authors. Her graceful story telling is seamless and entertaining. I highly recommend this novel.” (Austenesque Reviews)

“You will never look at the Brontë sisters as mere writers again. The passion, intelligence, mystery, and perfection that these minds shared was astounding. Talk about a gifted family... you’ll love it.” (Once Upon A Romance)

5 STARS. A meticulously researched account of Charlotte Bronte’s life. The author … brought Charlotte to life as an intelligent, feisty, passionate woman. Charlotte’s romance with Arthur Nicholls was also convincing. I liked how the author showed the source of many scenes and Rochester himself from Jane Eyre.” (Library Thing)

“James’s extensive research . . . shows all throughout the book. . . ?The style imitates Charlotte Brontë‘s . . . [James’s] non-linear structure works surprisingly well, as she places each flashback at the precise relevant moment … READERS WILL BE GLUED TO ITS PAGES FROM START TO FINISH.” (Bronte Blog)

“This reconstruction of Ms. Brontë‘s life is done with such creativity and realism that it’s hard to imagine this is “not” what happened. . . By the end, the reader feels a real kinship with not only Charlotte, but all of the Brontës... A MUST BUY for Brontë-ites!” (Romance Junkies)

“I REALLY THOROUGHLY, HEARTILY ENJOYED THIS CELEBRATION OF BRONTE’S LIFE and developing romance with Arthur Bell Nichols. Anyone who’s ever peeked at a Bronte letter, or stole into Charlotte’s Juvenalia, or re-read those parts in Jane Eyre, will find in this work not a stranger, but a welcoming friend.” (A Fair Substitute For Heaven)

“WRITTEN VERY MUCH IN THE STYLE OF THE HEROINE’S NOVELS... The story is well researched and closely follows the events of Charlotte’s life, subtly interweaving her personalized view of the situations … Captures all the heartache and triumphs of the independent and creative spirit Charlotte Bronte must have been.” (Romance Reviews Today)

“Syrie James recreates how the poor, plain, and socially unconnected Ms. Brontë became a literary sensation. Based on extensive research, Brontë‘s deepest passions and desires, triumphs, and disappointments come to life... Anyone who is a fan of her work will welcome and enjoy this remarkable novel.” (Bookviews)

“AN AMAZING JOURNEY through the life of one of my very favorite authors... James weaves a beautiful story that … breathes life into a much loved and respected family in the literary world. Her language is flawless... The words could be Charlotte’s own as the story unfolds.” (Kaye's Book Reviews)

“I WAS TRANSPORTED... The Bronte sisters were so removed from the world and yet so compelling to get to know. If you’ve ever been a Bronte reader, then I’d thoroughly recommend Syrie James’s book. If you’ve never dabbled in Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, what’s stopping you?” (Sonoma Country Life)

About the Author

Syrie James is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Nocturne; Dracula, My Love; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women's National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal.) Translation rights for Syrie's books have been sold in sixteen languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things 19th century. She lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the Writer's Guild of America.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By victorianwannabe on 12 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who has read Syrie James' first book 'The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen' has to read this second novel. Memoirs of JA was good, excellent in fact, but 'The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte' is something far more. It's touching and emotional, but done so sincerely, that there were moments I forgot it was a novel, and saw it as an autobiography, although it does contain much fact. which makes it all the more special.

The thing that impressed me most about Syrie James is her ability to write and sound like Charlotte Bronte. I totally buy from her use of language alone that this is the diary of the woman who wrote 'Jane Eyre'. I particularly liked the characterisation of Arthur Bell Nicholls (for the record, he would have only needed to ask me once if I wanted to marry him...umm,,,YEAH!!) and also Branwell, who I came to dislike, as he had all the talent of his sisters, but wasted it away because he was entirely without their strong will and determination.

I will read this book many more times, and if anyone has a dry eye after reading the author's afterword, then you have a heart of stone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. BARRATT on 21 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of the Brontes and there has been a large influx of Bronte fiction lately, including this book by Syrie James.

I have to say I was very impressed with this novel, and James is an excellent writer, with many of the Bronte facts and letters used in a fanastic way.

I recommend this to all Bronte admirers, as I really enjoyed it, despite not being keen on the latest fiction about this family...some are really good, some make me want to pull my hair out in frustration!

Definitely worth a read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca on 3 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was delivered before the estimated delivery date. always a bonus. Cheapest price and brand new condition good quality which was good as it is a birthday present.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 36 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Ignore the Title; Read the Book! 30 July 2009
By Susan Higginbotham - Published on
Format: Paperback
I admit that I was a little reluctant to pick up The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, mainly because of the title, because with the exception of Sandra Gulland's Josephine Bonaparte trilogy, I haven't been terribly impressed by most novels that take the form of diaries, secret or otherwise. But pick it up I did, because I wanted a paperback to take to the beach, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

The title of this book is actually somewhat misleading, in fact, because although the narrator (Charlotte, of course) occasionally refers to her writing as a diary, the story is not in the usual day-to-day journal format. "Secret Memoirs" would be a more apt title. So if you're not keen on the diary format, there's no need to avoid this novel.

The event that prompts Charlotte to write about her life is the unexpected proposal she receives from her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. As Charlotte wrestles with the question of whether to accept, she reflects about her evolving relationship with Nicholls, her infatuation with a married professor in Brussels, her career as an author, and her life with her siblings, all now deceased.

James has researched her subject thoroughly, and it shows without appearing pedantic. Her portrayals of Charlotte's friends and family are true to life and three-dimensional, and where the author fills in gaps and creates dramatic tension between Charlotte and her suitor, it seems plausible. Having read more than my fair share of feminist critics who treat Charlotte's marriage to Nicholls as a tragic example of a gifted female succumbing to male domination, I was pleased to see that James treats the marriage positively, and even romantically.

Though one might enjoy this book better if one has read Charlotte Bronte's novels (and those of her sisters), it's not necessary. James' book also contains a number of extras: besides the usual afterword, there's a question-and-answer section for the author, excerpts from some of Charlotte's letters, and some poems by the Bronte siblings.

As I liked this book so much, I'll be picking up James' first novel, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Imaginative reconstruction of a great author's inner life 16 July 2009
By Silicon Valley Girl - Published on
Format: Paperback
Initially, I was a bit dubious about this book. The occasional awkward or anachronistic phrasing kept reminding me that this really was NOT Charlotte Bronte's secret diary. But by the time I was a few chapters in, I couldn't put it down. Based on detailed research, this is a fascinating and deeply involving portrait of what it might have felt like to be Charlotte Bronte. Now I'm excited to reread my favorite Bronte novels -- and to track down and read the ones I've missed, as well.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Made me want to read Jane Eyre again! 6 May 2010
By Elizabeth Crowley - Published on
Format: Paperback
If Jane Eyre is one of your favorite books, then I highly recommend The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. I admit that I have never read Shirley or Villette. But this excellent novel, based mostly on fact, has made want to read all the Bronte's works. Immediately after finishing this book, I ordered Shirley, Agnes Grey, and Elizabeth Gaskell's biography on Charlotte.

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte mimics a diary written by Charlotte herself. If you have never read a Bronte biography, don't let that stop you from picking up this wonderful book. The author did a superb job of painting a crystal clear picture of who Charlotte and her family really were. The novel walks you through Charlotte's childhood from her days at The Clergy Daughters School and through the death of almost all of her siblings.

The author really fleshes out all of the characters in the book, not only Charlotte, but Anne, Emily, and their brother Branwell. The novel is full of tragic and heartfelt moments lived by the Bronte family. If you a sensitive reader, you might want to keep a tissue handy.

The Secret Diaries not only explores Charlotte's feelings about her career as a novelist, but also her feelings about being a woman, a sister, and a daughter.

I can't praise this book enough. The end contains some excellent excerpts from letters written to or by Charlotte. The book also contains a few poems written by Charlotte, her sisters, and her brother. Fabulous book!!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Of Taking Liberties 17 Jan. 2010
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender - Published on
Format: Paperback
Anyone who has studied Charlotte Bronte, as I have, will be appalled by what Syrie James has done to her here. Thank God this isn't "The Secret Diaries of Emily Bronte," or the ghost of Emily Bronte would likely rise from the grave and do great harm to James. Charlotte was a bit less averse to the idea of being "outed" when it came time to reveal her identity to society, but that doesn't mean she was ready to expose her innermost thoughts.

Charlotte Bronte did not leave behind a secret diary, so students and scholars shouldn't get excited by the title or concept of this work of fiction. It's obvious that James has done an enormous amount of research--and has dropped all the appropriate names in the acknowledgments--and it is for that research and its application throughout the novel that I don't drop my rating of the book to a mere 1 star.

I cannot warn scholars strongly enough to take this fictional novel with a grain of salt. The story of Charlotte's life has been told in biographies before without the flowery additions of fictitious people, made-up dialogue, conjecture, inference, and a machinistic wedding night scene that embarrassed me FOR Charlotte. I felt as if the poor woman was watching me read the scene and was trying to tell me, "No! No! It didn't happen that way! He didn't say that! I didn't do that! Stop looking at us that way!"

I felt her watching me as I read the scene of Monsieur Heger "kissing" Charlotte in the garden and felt her saying, "You don't understand! This author wasn't there! That's not what happened!" I felt as if Charlotte wanted to take the book out of my hands a dozen different times because I was reading lies about her.

To Charlotte, I'm sorry to have read this so-called romance novel. I know your life was so much more than what's represented on these pages and held much more emotion. But I had to give it a read-through. I had to know if the author was anywhere close to the mark. To Harper Collins and Avon, while your author has done an exemplary job of research, the execution is a travesty. I would only recommend this book to serious Bronte scholars who can separate in their own minds what is fact and what is fiction. New Bronte readers should not confuse themselves with this jumble of information.

I recommend (and own) instead: The Life of Charlotte Bronte
The Bronte Myth
The Oxford Companion to the Brontës (Oxford Companion To...)
There are a variety of others on my Bronte reference shelf, but these are excellent resources. Also, if you can find it: The Belgian Essays of Charlotte and Emily Bronte

From Sandy Lender
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent 20 July 2009
By Ellis Bell - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte is Charlotte Bronte's story--as told from her point of view. Written more as a memoir than a diary with dated entries, the novel chronicles Charlotte's story from her time at the Clergy Daughters' School through her marriage to Arthur Bell Nicholls, who had been in love with Charlotte for eight long years before their marriage in 1854. At first, her feelings for him weren't very strong, but they grew over time. I'd originally thought that the book was going to be more about Charlotte and Arthur's relationship; but it's also about Charlotte herself, and her relationship with her sisters, brother, and father.

The "flashbacks" aren't in chronological form, either, though of course memory doesn't always work in a linear way. The voice that Syrie James uses for Charlotte Bronte is different than those used in Bronte's novels, though that might be intentional; Charlotte's own voice was much different than those she employed for the narrators in her novels. I enjoyed reading about Charlotte' writing process, too. It's a well-written book and well-researched, although I found the footnotes to be a little bit intrusive (though they might be helpful to someone who doesn't know much about the nineteenth century). I was also a little bit annoyed by how Charlotte would give exact ages for characters as she introduced them. I also thought that ending Charlotte's story where she did was a bit of a cop-out for the author.

But I liked Charlotte's view of the world; I was especially interested in her opinions of Monsieur Heger, the married man that Charlotte had strong feelings for. But more interesting is the relationship between Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte. I enjoyed the story arc of the novel--of how Charlotte learns through trial and error how to make her own choices. Although I know little about the Bronte sisters, I always gathered that they were a very passionate, emotional group of women, intelligent, imaginative and creative, despite the circumstances in which they grew up. Anne, Emily and Charlotte were unique women, remarkable each in their own way.

I can't help but compare this book to another that's recently been published: Emily's Ghost: A Novel of the Brontë Sisters, by Denise Giardina, about Charlotte's sister Emily. Giardina does a better job of describing the bleakness of the Yorkshire moors, but the story that Syrie James presents here is a little bit more interesting. Nonetheless, both novels are equally enjoyable. At the end of the book are an afterward about what happened later; a Q&A with the author; excerts from Charlotte' Bronte's letters; some of the Brontes' poetry (including one or two by Patrick and Branwell); a bibliography; and a "study guide."
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