I will never forget the first time I read Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë. I had watched the Timothy Dalton film version
and loved it, so I thought I’d trudge through the book. There was no trudging involved. It took no time for me for me to become completely absorbed by this amazing story. I loved reading the trials of a small, plain girl who dealt with difficult circumstances on her own terms.
So I jumped on the opportunity to read a fictionalized version of the author’s life when I saw The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë
by Syrie James. Like Jane Eyre, Brontë did not have an easy life. Her mother died when she was young and she lost two sisters at a school very similar to her infamous Lowood Institution. But the life that James describes, while full of trials, also shows how her life was full of love, friendship, and the joy of creativity.
James’s interpretation of this famous life reads like a novel, but demonstrates diligent research. She uses the factual framework of Brontë’s life, culled from past biographies and letters, and adds her own interpretation of the details that have been left out. This beautiful book told the story of a remarkable life in a such a way that will satisfy both true Brontë devotees and those who just want to read a great book.