Sunday, April 20, 2008

Laura Joh Rowland/THE SECRET ADVENTURES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE

first off, say what you will but i do most certainly judge a book by its cover. if it's not pretty or interesting, i won't pick a new book up. call me superficial. having said that, i love the lushness of this cover and its colors and gold lettering. it made me pick up the book, buy it, and the read was certainly worth it.

let me preface by saying i haven't read anything by the brontes, with the exception of wuthering heights, which was required by school. as much as i love reading about victorian england, i've not read its authors enough. after finishing this book, things may very well change!


charlotte, being the eldest and most strong-willed amongst her three sisters, is compelled to go to london to clear her name with her publisher over a misunderstanding, as she has published jane eyre under a male pen name. she shares a carriage with a beautiful yet distraught woman on her train ride to london, and witnesses her brutal murder outside her hotel. the police write off the crime as petty robbery, but charlotte suspects more sinister motives.

when charlotte returns home to the english countryside, she receives a package in the post from the dead woman, who pleads for charlotte to deliver the parcel to her mother. charlotte obliges, only to find a book scribbled with small notes in its margins, describing the dead victim's ties to a master who binds her to his will and makes her accomplice to wretched acts.

thus, the mystery further deepens. one of the most interesting plotlines of the book is john slade, who never appears as he is. the way the book is set up, using letters and diaries of other people to continue the tale, as well as an ominicient view to futher flesh out the story takes some getting used to. but in the end, rowland's mastery of charlotte's voice coupled with authentic setting and tone reels the reader into the tale.

the book is unlike any i have read, it is mystery, suspense, historial fiction and romance rolled into one. the prose is well done and stays true to the period. what i liked the most about the tale is how charlotte surprises me by both thought and action. rowland certainly brought charlotte bronte to life in this tale--rendering her brave, curious, intelligent and passionate. i definitely recommend this book!

3 comments:

Cheryl said...

This sounds really interesting, even though I haven't read anything by Charlotte Bronte.

cindy said...

cheryl, i haven't either! but it doesn't matter. and now i'm interested in reading jane eyre!

Alan said...

I liked it too! Particularly enjoyed your review