Book Review: The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

The Bronte Plot

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.

Received in ebook format from Netgalley in exchange for a review. It’s rare that I go after a book from an author I’ve never heard of before purely on the basis of the publisher’s PR email, but I did, and if I’m honest I’m going to think twice before I do it again.

It started off well – Lucy’s work for Sid, the pleasure she gets out of working with books and fabrics was detailed in a passionate and tactile way. This is not a Mills and Book romance after all, so when she starts dating James early on, the relationship doesn’t get laboured over – for instance, we don’t get pulled into her meeting James’ parents for the first time.

James, a lawyer with principles, finds out about some lies that Lucy has told to him and other clients, so dumps her. Lucy, whose English father has been off the scene for several decades, has been known to be a conman, although Lucy’s view of him is definitely rose-tinted (where she doesn’t believe he could have conned her, of all people).

She feels pressured to helping James’ grandmother on a trip to London, although she chooses to make use of the time to look up her father up near Castle Howard (where the Brontes used to live). There is much debate between Lucy herself, as well as her, James and Helen as to whether people can change, whether people are doomed to inherit and continue certain behaviours, and regrets over a route not taken. It’s here, and the grand exposition for Lucy and James that I lost interest and laboured through to the end.

Many comparisons are made between Lucy and the characters in her favourite Bronte books, both by Lucy and Helen, and I’m sure to followers of Rhey and the Brontes find much pleasure in this style of writing. There are plenty of reviews out there extolling how much the reader enjoys both this book and other works by the same author. However, for me it was too much hard work in the end!

In Summary: decent story, executed well (just not to my style of reading!), and probably best suited to those looking for some challenge in their reading, and/or with a decent understanding of the undercurrents in the works from all the Brontes

Additional Reviews

The Silver Petticoat Review

About the Author

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago. Visit her on line at katherinereay.com Facebook: katherinereaybooks Twitter: @Katherine_Reay

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