Skip to main content

Review: The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte, by Laura Joh Rowland

I realized that I’ve been reading a few books lately with the word “secret” in the title. First it was The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, and now it’s The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte, by Laura Joh Rowland.

Rowland, author of a series of detective novels that take place in Japan (which I haven’t read), now conquers new territory in turning Charlotte Bronte into a detective. What could have turned into a disaster is actually a delightful mystery. The story begins when Charlotte and her sisters receive a letter from Charlotte’s publisher, in which the publisher believes that the same man wrote Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. Charlotte and Anne go to London to clear things up. On their way there, they run into a woman name Isabel White, whose strange behavior leads to Charlotte witnessing her murder in a London alley later. When the police decide that the former governess’s murder was a chance happening, Charlotte realizes that it wasn’t, and she sets off in pursuit of the real murderer, prompted by an account written by Isabel in the margins of a book. We are introduced to John Slade, who Charlotte finds herself attracted to. But is he one of the good guys, or the bad?

Charlotte’s adventures lead her across Europe, from London to the English countryside, to Scotland and beyond, eventually engulfing her in the opium wars of the 1840s. Charlotte comes across as an adventurous and brave woman, resourceful and intelligent. She’s also very passionate, and devoted to her cause. I was enthralled by the mystery, which unfolded perfectly, and did not want this book to end. It’s a must read for anyone who enjoys the works of the Bronte sisters, and the book made me want to re-read Jane Eyre.


Nicole said…
Is it terrible that I've never read Jane Eyre??
Katherine said…
You must read it IMMEDIATELY! It's one of the few books I've ever re-read.
Marg said…
I've never read it either Nicole!

I own a load of Laura Joh Rowland's books but I have never read any of them. As soon as I saw that this was going to be her next book I was interested to see how it was going to be received!

Thanks for the review!
Teddy Rose said…
I love Jane Eyre! I will have to give this book a try.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…