Book Review: The Brontë Plot
Author: Katherine Reay
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 3 November 2015
Page Count: 336
Audience: Adult – Literary Chick Lit
I hesitate to call this book chick lit, but adding literary to the title explains it a bit more. This story takes the reader through some of the main character's favorite tales that she grew up with. The Bronte Plot is about discovery and redefining yourself; it’s about journeying into your past in order to more forward with your future.
Our story opens ups with the main character, Lucy, working for a famous Chicago interior designer. She loves what she does for him, but her true passion is in the rare books she finds for him to sell. But her ways of obtaining and selling his wares are not always on the up and up. Her honest-to-a-fault-lawyer boyfriend breaks up with her when he finds out and it starts to open her eyes to what she is doing, and she realizes she is more like her con-artist father than she ever wanted to be. Then, unexpectedly, her boyfriend's grandmother, Helen, asks her to go on a business shopping excursion to London. Both lovers of books and the classics, they add a literary element to the trip and visit some amazing settings for classic authors' books, including where the Bronte sisters grew up. Soon Lucy finds out Helen has some of her own secrets and is also on a mission to make things right before her time is up. They meet some great people along the way and Lucy even reconnects with the father she hasn't seen since she was eight. Throughout the trip Lucy's eyes continue to open to what she has been doing, following in her family's wrongly placed footsteps.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Not only did I love all the literary references, I loved the underlying message. This is a story of learning your faults and knowing that it is never too late to make things right. But I think it's also a way of showing you that even though your family does play a role in how you grow up and learn, it doesn't define you. Lucy is not the only one who grew and learned from her mistakes in this story, Helen did as well, and so did James, Lucy's boyfriend. They all learned to forgive, not just others, but also themselves. I guess what I am saying, is there are several underlying messages and they all flow seamlessly together.
I enjoyed the trip through London and the British countryside. It was evident the author, Katherine Reay, did a lot of research as she wrote this book. You could imagine all the places Lucy and Helen visited on their literary tour. Gorgeous places that I made a note of so that someday I can visit as well.
I loved how the author - through Lucy - described places, things, and even people almost as if she were designing a room. She used paint chip colors to describe people's eyes - and many of them changed with the emotion being expressed at the time. To me, it is a unique way of illustrating what she envisioned, one I've never seen before.
The only thing that bothered me about the book was I felt there needed to be more of a connection with the main character, Lucy. You don't get a real deep sense of her feelings and thoughts, they are more surface thoughts. I wanted more inner dialogue as she went through some very strong emotional changes in her life.
The literary references were my favorite part of this book; the emotions and memories they invoked in Lucy and Helen, the links to their own pasts. These were stronger than what I mentioned in the previous paragraph, much more thought was put into them. The author references some of my favorite classic authors: C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, the Bronte Sisters, and so many more. You can tell the author is also a fan of these storytellers. Anyone who is a fan of books, classic and new, will love this story.
One Last Thought: Though she did research, i feel as though one aspect of London didn't fit with my experiences there. The being able to walk onto the road and cars just automatically slow down for you. Traffic moves too fast for that to happen and you would get honked at or hit. Very dangerous, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone visiting London.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Being a huge book lover and classics fan myself, I love all the literary references, the comparing of real life to that of fictitious characters (we all do it), and the journey through some of Britain's more famous literary settings.
First Sentence: Wednesday is Book Day.
Favorite Character: Helen
Least Favorite Character: None
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.