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The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë
By Syrie James
Imprint: Avon A
On Sale: 6/30/2009
Format: Trade PB
ISBN: 9780061891786 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780061720192 (large print)
Dear Reader,(Incidentally, though, we are never told how the diaries got to that 'remote farmhouse' in the first place). Also, Syrie James states in the Q& A that,
Imagine, if you will, that a great discovery has been made, which has sparked enormous excitement in the literary world: a series of journals, which have lain buried and forgotten for more than a century in the cellar of a remote farmhouse in the British Isles, have been officially authenticated as the private diaries of Charlotte Brontë. [...]
The story you are about to read is true.
The novel is based almost entirely on fact. All the details of Charlotte's family life, her experiences at school, her friendship with Ellen, her feelings for Monsieur Heger, the evolution of her writing career, and her relationship with her publisher, George Smith, are all true and based on information from her letters and biographies. [...]As Syrie James must have known too, Karen Joy Fowler began her novel The Jane Austen Book Club stating that, 'each of us has a private Austen', to which we add that each of us has private Brontës as well. This results in reading facts and personalities differently. To us, for instance, Emily Brontë was a highly private person, both in her personal and public life. To Syrie James, Emily - at least at the beginning of the book - is quite the gossipy, open girl who chats with a made-up acquaintance from Haworth and laughs quite a lot(1).
I was obliged to conjecture some of the events during the earlier years of Charlotte and Mr. Nicholls's acquaintance, to flesh out their love story--but based on what we do know, I feel that this telling is very close to the truth.
'Haven't you been writing something anyway, in the months since we've been married? A diary, I think it is?'The man who said that Charlotte's letters to Ellen Nussey were 'dangerous as lucifer matches' would have indeed objected to Charlotte keeping a diary. And we actually have a soft spot for Arthur, but - while we are at it - we find his fictional counterpart to be quite the Hollywood gentleman as opposed to the strict - loving yes, but strict - man of his time that he was(2).
[...] 'Yes, I have. I did not think you knew. Do you object?'
'Why would I object? Charlotte: you are a writer. I knew that long before I asked you to marry me. It's what you love, and a part of who you are. I'll love you whether you write or not. If you've had your fill of it, then stop. If you enjoy keeping a diary, then keep it. . .'
Ellis "the man of uncommon talents but dogged, brutal and morose", sat leaning back in his easy chair drawing his impeded breath as he best could, and looking, alas! piteously pale and wasted--it is not his wont to laugh--but he smiled half-amused and half in corn as he listened. (Our bold)(2) Another anachronistic reappraisal seems to be that of Tabby when she is said to feed 'our eager attention with tales of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and ballads--or, as I later discovered, from the pages of her favourite novels, such as Pamela'. We are grateful for the effort to have Tabby be more than just a servant, but in all probability and fairness Tabby couldn't read, didn't have a 'favourite novel' and had never even heard of Pamela. EDIT: However according to Mrs Chadwick in her book In the Footsteps of the Brontës (1914), 'Tabby seemed to have read Richardson's Pamela', but no source is given.
For years, Charlotte harbored a secret love for her Belgian professor, Monsieur Hegér [sic]—a married man. Monsieur Hegér is the basis for all the heroes in Charlotte’s books, including Mr. Rochester in her most famous novel, Jane Eyre.This marketing is a bit misleading as inside the book itself, Charlotte admits that Rochester owes a lot to the Duke of Zamorna as well (we would hazard that he owes more to Zamorna than to Heger, but that is just us). We might as well say here, that one conversation taken from Jane Eyre and made to take place between Heger and Charlotte didn't work for us.