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The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte
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The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte

4.5 22
by Syrie James

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"I have written about the joys of love. I have, in my secret heart, long dreamt of an intimate connection with a man; every Jane, I believe, deserves her Rochester."

Though poor, plain, and unconnected, Charlotte Bronte possesses a deeply passionate side which she reveals only in her writings—creating Jane Eyre and


"I have written about the joys of love. I have, in my secret heart, long dreamt of an intimate connection with a man; every Jane, I believe, deserves her Rochester."

Though poor, plain, and unconnected, Charlotte Bronte possesses a deeply passionate side which she reveals only in her writings—creating Jane Eyre and other novels that stand among literature's most beloved works. Living a secluded life in the wilds of Yorkshire with her sisters Emily and Anne, their drug-addicted brother, and an eccentric father who is going blind, Charlotte Bronte dreams of a real love story as fiery as the ones she creates.

But it is in the pages of her diary where Charlotte exposes her deepest feelings and desires—and the truth about her life, its triumphs and shattering disappointments, her family, the inspiration behind her work, her scandalous secret passion for the man she can never have . . . and her intense, dramatic relationship with the man she comes to love, the enigmatic Arthur Bell Nicholls.

"Who is this man who has dared to ask for my hand? Why is my father so dead set against him? Why are half the residents of Haworth determined to lynch him—or shoot him?"

From Syrie James, the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, comes a powerfully compelling, intensely researched literary feat that blends historical fact and fiction to explore the passionate heart and unquiet soul of Charlotte Bronte. It is Charlotte's story, just as she might have written it herself.

Editorial Reviews

“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.”
Kaye's Book Reviews
“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.”
Sonoma Country Life
“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?”
Bronte Blog
“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.”
Romance Junkies
“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!”
A Fair Substitute For Heaven
“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.”
Jane Austens World
“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.”
Romance Reviews Today
“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.”
Once Upon A Romance
“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.”
Library Thing
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.”
Sacramento Book Review
“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.”
Austenesque Reviews
“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.”
Library Journal
When prospective curate Arthur Nicholls first calls at the Rev. Patrick Brontë's Haworth parsonage, he mistakes Brontë's daughter Charlotte for a servant; then, after having been enthusiastically hired by Charlotte's father, he seals his fate when she overhears him referring to her as "an ugly old maid." Raised to earn her own living and proud of her prickly independence, Charlotte scorns the smugness and lack of sympathy among the men surrounding her, but Nicholls's comment rankles, especially since her sisters and the villagers of Haworth don't concur with her decidedly poor opinion of Nicholls. Doing her best to ignore him, she buries herself in writing projects with her sisters as they stalwartly cope with their aging father's blindness, their brother's deteriorating condition, and, eventually, their own ill health. VERDICT James's semifictionalized account of Charlotte Brontë starts off more slowly than her The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, but she is just as faithful to the writer's language, time, and place. This is bound to fascinate admirers of the doomed Brontës and those who enjoyed Denise Giardino's recent Emily's Ghost.—Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.82(d)

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Meet 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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Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This wonderfully written book takes you immediately into the lives of the Bronte family. I did not want to put it down - even though it took a few hankys to finish. Gave my copy to my granddaughter to read - her favorite book is Jane Eyre. I am sure Syrie James' Jane Austin will be just as moving. I can not say enough about this beautiful book. Charlotte Bronte was quite a lovely person.
pnut52OK More than 1 year ago
I loved this book from the moment I read the first page. It is such a sweet and charming read and swept me to a time when things were so much simpler in so many ways and yet more difficult in so many other ways. I have recommended this book to many of my friends that love good literature and appreciate and love Charlotte Bronte's writings as I do. Ms. James has done a beautiful job of pulling together data to make this book such a believable and treasured read.
ccmbaum More than 1 year ago
All I can say is that it's a must read! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful discovery. I have read several Bronte biographies, and this is the best presentation I have encountered. By having Emily tell the story of her family, one gets a sense of discovery and immediacy lacking in traditional biography.
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SHDYoda More than 1 year ago
"The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte" provides a glimpse into the life and mind of a brilliant, private and misunderstood author that wrote some of the best examples of English literature of all time. Including Charlotte's deep relationships with her sisters, Anne and Emily, gives the reader the opportunity to better understand these two, equally talented authors. James extensive research on Bronte's life allowed her to write almost an autobiography of sorts rather than just a fictional novel. Her attention to detail and research is greatly appreciated. I now want to reread "Jane Eyre", "Agnes Grey" and "Wuthering Heights" immediately! This is a must reread.
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I did not have high hopes for this book as I was expecting some hackneyed adventures featuring CB as the central character. It couldn't be further from that idea. This, instead, is a delightful account of the Bronte story and realistically told in Charlotte's voice. No huge surprises to anyone familiar with the Brontes, but does read like a long-lost memoir--and NOT "dry" like so many biographies can unfortunately be.
srw07 More than 1 year ago
For readers of "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Heights" and the other Bronte books, this book is an entertaining way to learn about the family that generated three of the best writers of the 19th century. Told from the point of view of Charlotte, it is very well researched, easily read biography of the whole Bronte family.
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FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
While we know that Charlotte Bronte did not leave behind a secret diary, Syrie James' book offers a delightful portrait of this groundbreaking nineteenth century author. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte offers a compelling story that focuses on the lives of the Bronte sisters as told by Charlotte. If you haven't heard of the Bronte's, here is your opportunity to learn about this amazing family that included three respected female authors, and one not so respected brother. The household was led by their father, Patrick Bronte, a clergyman in rural Haworth, England. Almost out of the womb, the three surviving sisters were destined to become authors, writing journals and stories from an extraordinarily early age into adolescence. In 1846, the sisters jointly issued a poetry collection that was published using pseudonyms, both to maintain their privacy and to hide their true gender. Though this first publication hardly saw the light of day, the three sisters continued their writing pursuits, finally earning positive literary criticism. Emily Bronte earned recognition with her torrid tale, Wurthering Heights, a book that became the talk of London; while Charlotte's Jane Eyre, a story of a plain, docile school teacher, caught the attention and imagination of the reading public. It is with this backdrop that James recreates Charlotte's life: her dreadful childhood experience at the Clergy Daughter's School, followed by her time at Roe Head, to the death of her siblings, and finally back to the marriage proposal and her untimely death. A critical juncture in the story comes when Charlotte assumes a teaching post in Brussels and falls in love with the head of the school, Constantin Heger. While it is unclear what actually transpired with Mr. Heger, we do know that Charlotte's relationship to Mrs. Heger was quite strained. In telling Charlotte's story, James makes the persuasive argument that all Charlotte's publications, but particularly Jane Eyre, were drawn directly from events in Charlotte's life. When Charlotte died, Ms. Gaskill, a feminist writer of some renown, and a friend of the Bronte's, was persuaded to write a biography of Charlotte. In deference to the time, it was a somewhat sanitized version of events, especially relating to Charlotte's period in Brussels. The biography was also later criticized by reviewers for Ms. Gaskill's reliance on information from Charlotte's best friend, Ellen Nussey, a fellow "spinster," who felt abandoned when Charlotte's prospects for marriage became a reality. Ms. James has done an excellent job of culling through the research and offering us another look at this fascinating family. James makes sense of the events of Charlotte's life, tells a story that captures the language and feel of the times, and keeps the novel moving at a fast pace. While most of the dialogue in Charlotte's Secret Diary is plausible, James sometimes goes a bit too far, such as her rendition of Charlotte's wedding night. This portion adds to the romantic angle, but is the least convincing. Despite these few exceptions, James' book is a captivating and entertaining read. James is so winning in her narrative style that by the end of the tale the reader will be convinced that she, in fact, has discovered Charlotte's secret diary. Quill says: A well-written, if somewhat romanticized version, of the life of Charlotte Bronte. A perfect summer read.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, Maria, Elizabeth and Anne) grew up in the nineteenth century in the Yorkshire moors of Haworth along with their brother Branwell under the parenting of their father the local Perpetual Parson and their Aunt Elizabeth. Their mom died when she was eight. Whereas the three girls enjoyed stories, their brother turned to alcohol. At school, Charlotte being ugly was placed last to select for anything until she began telling stories to her fascinated classmates. After leaving school, Charlotte realized her choices of employment as a single most likely spinster woman was teaching or being a governess. She chose to try writing, as did her sisters, using pseudonyms to gain publication without their father knowing it. Ironically she hides her writings from her dad who she is the most dedicated to him of all his offspring. She also begins keeping a diary that opens with a stunner, a marriage proposal in 1845. Well aware that "my heart is knit to him, her father's curator and their next door neighbor Arthur Bell Nichols. After she dies, he destroyed much of what she wrote to him. This is a super historical biography that uses a diary to tell the tale of Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre. Using a first person perspective brings depth to the great author even that much more, but also detracts from how others see her and events like her sisters and Arthur as they come across through a Charlotte filter. Still this is an excellent biographical fiction that looks profoundly at a great nineteenth century writer as Syrie James does her research to tell the story of Charlotte Bronte as she did with THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN. Harriet Klausner