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The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte Paperback – June 30, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Avon A; Original edition (June 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006164837X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061648373
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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.

More About the Author

Syrie James, hailed by Los Angeles Magazine as the queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings, is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including THE MISSING MANUSCRIPT OF JANE AUSTEN, THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN, THE SECRET DIARIES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE, NOCTURNE, DRACULA MY LOVE, FORBIDDEN, and The Harrison Duet: SONGBIRD and PROPOSITIONS. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages.

In addition to her work as a novelist, Syrie is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. An admitted Anglophile, she loves romance and all things 19th century. Syrie welcomes visitors and messages at, and invites you follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.

Customer Reviews

Took me time to read but overall enjoyed!
Olsen Family
As full of passion, drama and intriguing characters as that classic, it is both an intensely powerful love story and a detailed glimpse into an inspiring life.
It is well known that Charlotte Bronte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father's curate, in 1854 at the age of 38.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Susan Higginbotham on July 30, 2009
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Silicon Valley Girl VINE VOICE on July 15, 2009
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Crowley on May 5, 2010
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!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on July 20, 2009
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.
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