Title: The Brontë Plot
Author: Katherine Reay
Publisher and Year: Thomas Nelson, 2015
Genre: literary fiction
Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
An eARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed this book but it was a little bland for me – I have not been an avid reader of Victorian fiction though I admire the Austens and Brontës and their work. This is the kind of story that is absolutely gorgeous if you are a reader of these kinds of books that the story delights in so much, it’s a perfectly matched read. There is a great deal of enjoyment that wasn’t open to me as someone who knew of, but hadn’t read much of, these Victorian novelists.
I liked Lucy as a character, I like how she was flawed and how she grew and how she interrogated herself and her motives. I also really appreciated Helen with her desire to journey before it was too late, to experience things – although I didn’t find it particularly believable that she would take Lucy with her, I feel like their friendship would have needed to be more cemented before that could have made more sense in the context of the story.
James is one of those annoying male characters who comes across as always having the moral right of things, and anyone who steps outside those lines – however well meaning he is, is dropped like a hot potato. This isn’t to say his feelings of being wronged weren’t reasonable to a degree but I felt uncomfortable with the level to which the mistakes Lucy made were held over her by him – there were other parties who had more reason to do that and didn’t, so it cast him in a poor light. He’s one of my least favourite literary boyfriends because he comes across so entitled and while that’s realistic to the world outside of books, I get enough of that outside of books and it’d be great not to roll my eyes while reading a book.
Maybe by now you’re wondering if I even liked this book – I did, it was a solid and pleasant read. Lucy and Helen really really make the book for me, and in particular their trip to the UK. I also thought Sid was a great character, and I really liked his design philosophy even if I’ll never be able to afford him.