Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review: The Bronte Plot

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

Goodreads 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 Review:
This book is hard to review. There were parts that I really enjoyed, but other parts where I was really confused about what was happening. The pacing did not work for me at all. It felt like this book should have been a sequel, but instead Katherine Reay rushed the beginning to get to the story she really wanted to be telling.

It starts off with Lucy, who works in an antique/decorating shop in Chicago. She manages the book selling business within the shop and assists the owner/designer with house decorating jobs. James comes into her shop several times to buy books, and they start up a relationship. I really wanted more time with their courtship. It could have been a whole book. I enjoyed their shared bookishness. It was a glimpse of what it would be like to be with someone who shared that love. But the way it was written was very confusing. They'd mention things as if they'd already been discussed, but the reader had no knowledge of them. I honestly don't know how long their relationship was supposed to have gone on until James finds out about something dishonest that Lucy has done.

Then it all falls apart, except that Lucy is invited on a trip to England by James' grandmother. This story is the one I really enjoyed. When Reay wasn't discussing decorating or literary references, which were over my head since I haven't read the Bronte sisters' books (except Jane Erye), she told the story of an older woman full of regret who was trying to right the wrongs of her past. Helen also wanted honesty at the end of her life, and her conversations with Lucy were so real and enjoyable. But unfortunately, there wasn't enough of that story line.

James and Lucy's relationship, which I honestly didn't care very much about, kept muddling up the story. Had this been a sequel, I would have been invested in their story. But the rushed romance at the beginning of the book didn't do enough to make me want these two characters to end up together. The small bit of romance between the chauffeur and the inn keeper would have been enough for me.

Overall this is a sweet and quiet novel with good characters but poor plot and pacing. I loved Reay's other Austen-inspired novels, so I was disappointed that this one didn't work for me. Maybe fans of the Brontes would like it more?

My Rating: 3 Stars
Understand my ratings.


  1. I like the bookish references but the pacing seems odd. Maybe I will try a different one from her. Great review!

    1. I highly recommend her other two books. This one just wasn't as good IMO. :)

  2. I'm reading this right now and I'm glad that to hear you also felt like you were missing things in the beginning. I thought I was missing something. We'll see how the rest of the book goes but I hear you on the plot and pacing.
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

    1. I actually went back and re-read the end of the first chapter because the start of the second chapter was so confusing. I thought maybe I spaced out and missed something. Nope!

      It does get better. Some parts are really good and flow well, but then it gets weird again in parts. It was disappointing. I look forward to hearing your thoughts when you finish.

  3. Hmmm...sounds like a good idea that just didn't quite get there....

    Kate @ Ex Libris