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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: The Brontë Plot

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Brontë Plot
by Katherine Reay
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy's secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James's wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy's predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen's wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters' beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that's been waiting for her all along.


My thoughts on this novel are lukewarm, even though it has a good message, and some strong, likable characters.  The wise, regretful Helen was delightful as a character and I could definitely see the parallels between her and Helen Burns from Jane Eyre,  as Lucy's guide to self-discovery.  The shop owner Sid, is also a great secondary character - quirky, talented and nurturing, and I think his own story and perspective would make a great novel.

The main character Lucy is interesting.  She is most definitely a flawed character, with something to learn during the course of the narrative, but I found it hard to really empathize with her.  She does something that she knows is wrong, and I found it difficult to understand why she didn't feel the need to make things right immediately, especially when she loses someone close to her because of it.  It's her main journey in the story, and it goes back to family and understanding her past, but I thought it was all a bit convoluted for her to find it in herself to do the right thing.  The pace of the story felt slow to me as well (perhaps because I thought Lucy moved too slowly to make some of her realizations) and that affected my enjoyment of the novel considerably.  I often wanted to hurry things along.

Although the title of the book references the Brontës, there are many literary references in the story, of different authors, and while I can see that the Brontë spirit is what ultimately inspires Lucy, I think the fact that the novel incorporates such love of literature is what makes it more memorable to a reader who delights in those kinds of references.  Lucy obviously loves books, and that is also very appealing to me.

The setting of the novel moves from Chicago to London and Haworth, and the armchair travel aspect of the story enlivens it a little, especially since I've been to London and Haworth and love those places.  The story is a quiet drama of self-discovery, repentance and redemption, and I was happy with the way the story ended even if it took awhile for Lucy to truly understand her mistakes.

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