Bronte's Mistress
“A beautifully written, highly seductive debut….The chemistry between Branwell and Lydia positively crackles on the page….Masterful storytelling which is sure to delight fans of the Brontës and of historical fiction.” –Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter This dazzling debut novel for fans of Mrs. Poe and Longbourn explores the scandalous historical love affair between Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson, giving voice to the woman who allegedly corrupted her son’s innocent tutor and brought down the entire Brontë family.Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson—mistress of Thorp Green Hall—has lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more. All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ elaborate play-acting and made-up worlds form the backdrop for seduction. But Lydia’s new taste of passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic and dangerous, and whispers of their passionate relationship spout from her servants’ lips, reaching all three protective Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Lydia to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late. Meticulously researched and deliciously told, Brontë’s Mistress is a captivating reimagining of the scandalous affair that has divided Brontë enthusiasts for generations and an illuminating portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact.

Bronte's Mistress Details

TitleBronte's Mistress
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 4th, 2020
PublisherAtria Books
ISBN-139781982137236
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, European Literature, British Literature, Retellings

Bronte's Mistress Review

  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    Story of the alleged affair, between the married Lydia Robinson and Branwell Bronte, her sons tutor, illuminates portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact. It may not be a woman youd sympathize with, but it gives voice to a woman who is voiceless and suffocating. She is a complex human character full of passion and worth of attention. Yorkshire, 1843. Lydia has lost her youngest daughter and mother within the same year. She is dealing with grief, Story of the alleged affair, between the married Lydia Robinson and Branwell Bronte, her son’s tutor, illuminates “portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact.” It may not be a woman you’d sympathize with, but it gives voice to a woman who is voiceless and suffocating. She is a complex human character full of passion and worth of attention. Yorkshire, 1843. Lydia has lost her youngest daughter and mother within the same year. She is dealing with grief, rebelling teenage daughters, scrutinizing mother-in-love, and impassive husband. She craves enjoyment, her husband’s love, his touch, instead she receives coldness. Miss Anne Bronte is governess to her daughters and now Mr. Branwell Bronte joins the household to be her son’s tutor.With the appearance of Mr. Bronte, the temperature in the room rises. Once again, she starts feeling the music that she plays and sings. She yearns for something more.She’s been feeling lonely, without any aspirations, especially when she hears so much about Bronte sisters and their talents. But now, “the youthful fire” ignites inside her.The use of library by Lydia and Branwell becomes frequent. They share their love for poetry, music, and theater. She also notices situations in which her husband “would have lectured,” but Mr. Bronte listens and reacts with sympathy. She craves attention, which she can’t get from her husband.The author paints a vivid portrait of a woman who craves excitement in her life and affection of her husband. Instead, she feels lonely in her marriage, thus making her suffocate. She puts an effort to stay connected with her husband, but receives unresponsiveness in return. She feels unfulfilled in her life and searches to fill that gap. She struggles “between expectation and the wish for more.”The affair doesn’t consume the whole story. She is a strong woman and there is more to her than this. She is also a mother, who at times struggles with this role. But she is human and tries her best, which is honest best. I’m in awe with the writing. The combination of developing characters, describing the surroundings, moving the story forward and making it very interesting is superb. This is the style of writing I enjoy very much. Subtle descriptions (not overdone) bringing depth and beauty. “(Instead), there are rolling hills and hidden waterfalls. Miles without fences and only the occasional rock to sit on…” Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this thoroughly original take on a notorious scandal: the affair between the (married) Lydia Robinson and Branwell Bronte, her son's tutor. The writing is beautiful but not stodgy, i.e. true to the romantic spirit of a classic Bronte novel. There are also some clever modern insights into women's roles at the time. Lydia may not be a role model, but I found her an intriguing and ultimately sympathetic heroine. If you're a Bronte fan or love stories about the overlooked women of history, I I loved this thoroughly original take on a notorious scandal: the affair between the (married) Lydia Robinson and Branwell Bronte, her son's tutor. The writing is beautiful but not stodgy, i.e. true to the romantic spirit of a classic Bronte novel. There are also some clever modern insights into women's roles at the time. Lydia may not be a role model, but I found her an intriguing and ultimately sympathetic heroine. If you're a Bronte fan or love stories about the overlooked women of history, I highly recommend it. (Thanks to Atria Books for an advance copy, which I accepted in exchange for an honest review.)
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  • Candace
    January 1, 1970
    Most stories of the Brontes are set in their home village of Haworth gray and windy on the edge of the moor. There we see Charlotte, Anne, Emily, and Branwell venture into the world to try to earn their way, clinging to miserable jobs in other people's homes, returning home to be together when they can. But, always the exception, brother Branwell returns dismissed, a drunk, opium eater. The suggestion is that he had an affair with the lady of the house where he was a tutor."Bronte's Mistress" Most stories of the Brontes are set in their home village of Haworth gray and windy on the edge of the moor. There we see Charlotte, Anne, Emily, and Branwell venture into the world to try to earn their way, clinging to miserable jobs in other people's homes, returning home to be together when they can. But, always the exception, brother Branwell returns dismissed, a drunk, opium eater. The suggestion is that he had an affair with the lady of the house where he was a tutor."Bronte's Mistress" tells the story of this affair from the point of view of Lydia Robinson, that very lady. Her world has been rocked by the loss of both her youngest daughter and mother. Her husband is behaving coldly. Her son has a new young tutor who is frankly admiring of her. Finola Austin's novel is fearless. Lydia is hard to like. She's sad, lonely, angry. Relationships at home are spiky. Her daughters are growing up and she is afraid that she will never feel real love, passion. Her relationship with Branwell is messy and will make the rest of her life even messier. Her tragedy is that she briefly found passion in the wrong place and will never find it again. Austin's extensive research pays off in the best way. She paints a picture of remote estates, people marooned far from outside company, women anxious about their survival in the world when that entirely depends on who they marry, people anxious in upper class homes worried about hanging on to a shred of dignity, employees terrified of losing their positions. Where does newly-awakened Lydia fit, or will she fit anywhere?"Bronte's Mistress" is a very satisfying novel and a fascinating addition to the Bronte's work, and those fine modern books that imagine the stories from another point of view. This seems to be Austin's first novel and I hope she's hard at work on the next one. She has terrific imagination backed by a gift for research and period expression.Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader, thanks the publisher and Netgalley for this delicious read.
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  • Natalie Jenner
    January 1, 1970
    In BRONTE'S MISTRESS, debut novelist Finola Austin ingeniously uses the ripe-for-the-telling story of the Bronte sisters' brother and his affair with Lydia Robinson, the mother of the children he tutors, as a vehicle for exploring the embittered moral landscape of a woman so constrained by society that every move she makes is a bizarre cry for help, a negotiation, and a rebuttal all rolled into one. This book starts with a wonderfully creative newspaper clipping, ends with an astonishing In BRONTE'S MISTRESS, debut novelist Finola Austin ingeniously uses the ripe-for-the-telling story of the Bronte sisters' brother and his affair with Lydia Robinson, the mother of the children he tutors, as a vehicle for exploring the embittered moral landscape of a woman so constrained by society that every move she makes is a bizarre cry for help, a negotiation, and a rebuttal all rolled into one. This book starts with a wonderfully creative newspaper clipping, ends with an astonishing epilogue, and in between it grows from strength to strength as the plot (faithful in essence to the few real-life facts we have) winds tighter and tighter. The title of this book ironically puts Lydia Robinson in her societal place at the time, while the text elevates her complex and often troubling relationship both to her self and to others. This is not a book about a nineteenth-century affair - it is about using physical passion and experience to get at the very sense of self that society wanted women of the time to repress and even deny. It is a daring, troubling, and sophisticated first novel, and it heralds a most intriguing new voice in historical fiction.
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  • Barbara Conrey
    January 1, 1970
    Bronte's Mistress, the story of the alleged affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his employer's wife, is a flawlessly written and meticulously researched novel that allows its readers to feel both the passion and frustration of the time period. Lydia, a woman born well before her time, was a passionate creature seeking all of life's pleasures. She refused to be hindered by a society that preferred its women seen but not heard, and sometimes not even heard. She suffered at the hands Bronte's Mistress, the story of the alleged affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his employer's wife, is a flawlessly written and meticulously researched novel that allows its readers to feel both the passion and frustration of the time period. Lydia, a woman born well before her time, was a passionate creature seeking all of life's pleasures. She refused to be hindered by a society that preferred its women seen but not heard, and sometimes not even heard. She suffered at the hands of a husband who didn't know how to love her, and in seeking a life filled with passion made some poor choices. But could she have done any better?I found this novel spot-on, a worthy read, and just a little bit scary. I fear society is still not entirely comfortable with a woman willing to take life by the horns. Thank you to the author and Atria books for allowing be to read an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.I highly recommend this book!
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  • Megan Chance
    January 1, 1970
    A richly atmospheric and compelling portrait of a woman torn between societal expectations and her wish for more, this story of the married woman who had an affair with Branwell Bronte is complex and thoughtful, frustrating and fascinating and hard to put down. In fighting her own passions, her growing daughters, her in-laws, her husband and the rigidity of a woman's life in this time period, Lydia's struggles feel very real. I was very happy to get an early look at this novel and am pleased to A richly atmospheric and compelling portrait of a woman torn between societal expectations and her wish for more, this story of the married woman who had an affair with Branwell Bronte is complex and thoughtful, frustrating and fascinating and hard to put down. In fighting her own passions, her growing daughters, her in-laws, her husband and the rigidity of a woman's life in this time period, Lydia's struggles feel very real. I was very happy to get an early look at this novel and am pleased to recommend it. Bronte's Mistress stayed with me long after I finished it.
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  • Molly Greeley
    January 1, 1970
    Lydia Robinson, the married woman with whom Branwell Bronte allegedly had an affair, tells her own side of the story in Finola Austin's beautifully written and meticulously researched novel, Bronte's Mistress, which I was lucky to get the chance to read in advance of publication (thank you to Finola Austin and Atria!)Austin's Lydia--unhappily married, affection-starved, and unfulfilled--is exquisitely nuanced. I felt deeply for her, even as I was frustrated by some of her choices. The affair Lydia Robinson, the married woman with whom Branwell Bronte allegedly had an affair, tells her own side of the story in Finola Austin's beautifully written and meticulously researched novel, Bronte's Mistress, which I was lucky to get the chance to read in advance of publication (thank you to Finola Austin and Atria!)Austin's Lydia--unhappily married, affection-starved, and unfulfilled--is exquisitely nuanced. I felt deeply for her, even as I was frustrated by some of her choices. The affair with Branwell is merely one facet in a finely-cut gem of a larger story. Austin's great strength is that she is able to write so that both Lydia's own strengths and weaknesses seamlessly coexist, creating a thoroughly, beautifully, complicatedly human character. One gets the feeling that, were she born into a different time, Lydia truly could have become the person she wants to be; there is true tragedy in seeing her fall back, again and again, into the same societal traps against which she also rails.Bronte's Mistress gives voice to a woman who, until now, has been voiceless; and, indeed, to thousands of women whose lives, like Lydia's, were so terribly suffocating. 
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  • Joy Matteson
    January 1, 1970
    This was unbelievably tragic and at times quite difficult to read. But wow, absolutely gorgeous writing and amazing attention to historical detail, especially for Bronte fans. I think I read a blurb that said this book is perfect for English majors and die-hard Angophiles, and I'd have to agree with that assessment. Beautifully written, and an ode to women whose voices we have not known because the society they lived in did not appreciate their voices.
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  • Deborah
    January 1, 1970
    Thoroughly enjoyed this well researched book. It balances itself between fact and fiction to create a possible occurrence.
  • Syrie James
    January 1, 1970
    Finola Austins Brontes Mistress is a page-turning read full of passion and fire. The life stories of the famous Bronte siblings, Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne, have been chronicled in depth by countless biographers, and now and then in works of fiction. But an important aspect of Branwell Brontes lifehis life-altering, doomed love affair with the infamous Mrs. Robinson, an older woman whose son he was tutoringhas never been examined in such depth before, and makes a tantalizing read.Many Finola Austin’s “Bronte’s Mistress” is a page-turning read full of passion and fire. The life stories of the famous Bronte siblings, Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne, have been chronicled in depth by countless biographers, and now and then in works of fiction. But an important aspect of Branwell Bronte’s life—his life-altering, doomed love affair with the infamous Mrs. Robinson, an older woman whose son he was tutoring—has never been examined in such depth before, and makes a tantalizing read.Many historians view Lydia Robinson a predatory woman who took advantage of Branwell’s youth and innocence to satisfy her lust, with no concern for his heart and feelings. In my own novel, “The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte” (Avon books), the story of Charlotte’s life and journey as an author, and her relationships with her siblings and the two men she loved, I shared a similar view of Mrs. Robinson. I was worried, when I began Austin’s novel, that she would try to redeem Lydia Robinson—and I'm glad that she did not. Austin’s novel is incredibly well researched, sticks to the facts of the true story almost religiously (with a few interesting additions), and thoughtfully and vibrantly imagines the rest, bringing Mrs. Robinson (and Branwell) to life as never before. She dares to give us a main character as flawed as Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlett O’Hara—a real, hot-blooded woman who has desires and passions and isn’t afraid to act on them. And yet, while we can’t, in the end, like Mrs. Robinson (nor should we), from the first moment that we become privy to her private thoughts and personal anguish, we come to understand her wants and needs, and we sympathize with her lot in life. It wasn’t easy to be a woman in Victorian England, and being rich didn’t guarantee happiness—you were still a prisoner in a gilded cage.The author’s beautiful language, lyrical descriptions, and deep, thoughtful characterizations will sweep you away to another time and place, and make you feel as though you’ve walked in Lydia Robinson’s shoes and lived her life. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction and women’s fiction.
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  • Shawna
    January 1, 1970
    This was a good, quick read.Mostly I am fascinated in how I got this far and have never heard of the Bronte brother. Much less that he was considered a scoundrel.This is much more about Mrs Robinson - Which what a name! Mrs. Lydia Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel playing in my head each page as her name is mentioned over and over. Along with the Austen's Lydia that comes across in this Lydia's character. I understand that the author did a massive amount of research, and I am grateful. I would not This was a good, quick read.Mostly I am fascinated in how I got this far and have never heard of the Bronte brother. Much less that he was considered a scoundrel.This is much more about Mrs Robinson - Which what a name! Mrs. Lydia Robinson, Simon & Garfunkel playing in my head each page as her name is mentioned over and over. Along with the Austen's Lydia that comes across in this Lydia's character. I understand that the author did a massive amount of research, and I am grateful. I would not have read this if I had a vast knowledge of the situation, but for someone unfamiliar with what is truth and fiction it was engrossing. I think the characters would be interesting topics of conversations for book clubs. The writing is fair, but nothing to gush over. I was a bit thrown by her use of old world ages (four and twenty) when most of the book is written in a much more modern tone, there is also many quotations around words that do not need them, hopefully this can be flushed out before the novel comes out in August. I might come back and bump this up to 4 stars later, but the writing is just not that good, even though the subject matter, and the characterizations are provocative and discussion worthy.
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  • Hope Tarr
    January 1, 1970
    A stunning debut from a bright new talent! Lush and lyrical...Debut author, Finola Austin paints with a deft hand a portrait of Lydia Robinson -- wife, mother and lover -- a complicated woman suffocated by the stultifying proprieties of her era and station. Ignored by her husband, the pedestrian Edmund, still grieving her mother and adored youngest daughter, Georgiana, the Lydia we first meet is at her lifes lowest. Enter Branwell Bronte, newly engaged tutor to Lydias only son, troubled brother A stunning debut from a bright new talent! Lush and lyrical...Debut author, Finola Austin paints with a deft hand a portrait of Lydia Robinson -- wife, mother and lover -- a complicated woman suffocated by the stultifying proprieties of her era and station. Ignored by her husband, the pedestrian Edmund, still grieving her mother and adored youngest daughter, Georgiana, the Lydia we first meet is at her life’s lowest. Enter Branwell Bronte, newly engaged tutor to Lydia’s only son, troubled brother to budding literary lionesses Charlotte, Anne and Emily. At first meeting, Lydia sees in Branwell a window to the passionate youth she's left behind. But the tumultuous would-be poet quickly becomes more than a distraction to demarcate the tedium of her days and loneliness of her nights. Despite the differences that divide them - money, class and age - they seem to be kindred spirits, romantic wanderers, soulmates forced to tamp down their true natures. Over the course of several years, the pair embarks on an emotional and ultimately physical affair, as passionate as it is doomed to disaster.I can’t wait to see what’s next for this talented author!Note: I received a courtesy ARC of the novel.
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  • Wendy Scott
    January 1, 1970
    This was a brilliantly orchestrated imagining of what could have happened between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson in the mid 1800s. The book begins with all the language and airs that fans of Victorian Literature hunger for. After several chapters the stage-setting began to drag for me as I grew impatient wanting to get into the meat of the affair. Once the affair began then I was back to loving the flow of the storyline. It is quite an intriguing story or possible solution to the long This was a brilliantly orchestrated imagining of what could have happened between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson in the mid 1800’s. The book begins with all the language and airs that fans of Victorian Literature hunger for. After several chapters the stage-setting began to drag for me as I grew impatient wanting to get into the meat of the affair. Once the affair began then I was back to loving the flow of the storyline. It is quite an intriguing story or possible solution to the long debated question, “Did Branwell and Lydia have an affair?”In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note that my review is my own thoughts and opinions of this ARC that was provided by the Simon & Schuster via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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  • Cassie
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely stunning! I devoured this book during every free moment that I had. I was completely swept up in the whirlwind of Lydia's story. Thankful again for the Goodreads Giveaway!
  • Michele
    January 1, 1970
    This well-researched novel about the possible, or likely probable, affair between Bronwell Bronte' and his employer's wife, was extremely interesting. I have never read any of the Bronte's novels, but I will soon now I read about this rather sordid incident. Some of the scenes are more graphic than I expected, so this would not be for all readers. I did find this to be a very readable book that piqued my interest in the Bronte' sisters novels.
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  • Kate Belli
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED this book. It was fascinating to imagine the world of the Brontes from Lydia Robinson's perspective. Beautifully written, historically accurate without being overwhelming, I couldn't put it down.
  • Connie Behrens
    January 1, 1970
    Received this ARC from Goodreads. This is a truly believable story about Lydia Robinson the mistress of Thorp Green Hall and her affair with Branwell Bronte, her sons tutor. Branwell is the brother of her children's governess and is hired when Lydias husband decides his son should have his own tutor. Lydia is in a marriage in which she feels unloved, she feels her daughters relate to their governess Anne more than they do her. She is mourning the loss of her mother and her baby daughter who Received this ARC from Goodreads. This is a truly believable story about Lydia Robinson the mistress of Thorp Green Hall and her affair with Branwell Bronte, her sons tutor. Branwell is the brother of her children's governess and is hired when Lydias husband decides his son should have his own tutor. Lydia is in a marriage in which she feels unloved, she feels her daughters relate to their governess Anne more than they do her. She is mourning the loss of her mother and her baby daughter who passed two years before. She feels a connection to Branwell and it evolves from there. This affair affects the rest of her life.Lydia is a woman who mostly looks out for herself. She is hard to like but this story is captivating and I found myself reading into the night to finish this book in one day.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Atria for the arc! Im so excited for this! Im obsessed with the Brontes! Thank you Atria for the arc! I’m so excited for this! I’m obsessed with the Brontes!
  • Marcia
    January 1, 1970
    Well written and interesting book. I didn't like the main character Lydia though. I thought she was self-centered and a poor excuse for a mother. However, I did have empathy that part of her struggle was because of the times she lived in. I will say that I've thought about this book a lot in the two days since I read it, so I guess it made am impact on me.
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  • Alice
    January 1, 1970
    19th Century Yorkshire. Lydia Robinson, Mistress of Thorp Green Hall, is grieving the death of her youngest daughter, whilst dealing with her overwhelming mother-in-law and passionless marriage. She craves attention, her husbands love and affection, and yet all she receives is his indifference.When her sons new tutor arrives at the household, something sparks inside of Lydia and things begin to change. Handsome and romantic, a painter and a poet, Branwell Brontë is simply striking.This 19th Century Yorkshire. Lydia Robinson, Mistress of Thorp Green Hall, is grieving the death of her youngest daughter, whilst dealing with her overwhelming mother-in-law and passionless marriage. She craves attention, her husband’s love and affection, and yet all she receives is his indifference.When her sons new tutor arrives at the household, something sparks inside of Lydia and things begin to change. Handsome and romantic, a painter and a poet, Branwell Brontë is simply striking.This attraction ultimately becomes mutual, and occasional meetings between the pair become more frequent, but it does not go unnoticed...Suspicion and blackmail consuming her, Lydia must find the means to save her way of life, before everything collapses and her secrets are revealed.•This book has been extremely well researched and it definitely shows; with absolutely gorgeous writing and amazing attention to historical detail, Austin paints of picture of what life was like in the mid 1800’s.The pace throughout this book was utter perfection, allowing the story to completely absorb you. I really struggled to put it down once i’d picked it up, staying up quite late most nights because I was so engrossed.Lydia may not be the most likeable character, having selfish ways and frequently making bad choices, but there’s a part of you that sympathises with her and the utterly tragic and lonely life she has created for herself.Having never really taken an interest in novels such as ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’, Finola Austin’s wonderful writing and storytelling has made me want to pick them up and read them, as well as do a lot more research into the interesting lives of the Brontë’s.•A very big thank you to Finola for sending me an absolutely gorgeous proof copy. Brontë’s Mistress is due to be published on the 4th August and it’s definitely one to look out for and add to your wish list.I would highly recommend it to all fans of historical fiction and classic literature.
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  • Kris Waldherr
    January 1, 1970
    Dark and moody, Brontës Mistress unearths the secret love affair of Lydia Robinson and Branwell Brontë in all its shocking scandalousness. Anchored by meticulous research, Finola Austin has created a heart-tugging portrait of a passionate woman more akin to Emma Bovary than Jane Eyre, but equally trapped by the constraints of her era. Bittersweet and beautifully written. Dark and moody, Brontë’s Mistress unearths the secret love affair of Lydia Robinson and Branwell Brontë in all its shocking scandalousness. Anchored by meticulous research, Finola Austin has created a heart-tugging portrait of a passionate woman more akin to Emma Bovary than Jane Eyre, but equally trapped by the constraints of her era. Bittersweet and beautifully written.
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  • Irene Marston
    January 1, 1970
    good reads give away very good book though i probably would not have picked this up on my own so thank you for sending it .. she is a true master of the word mistress
  • Missy
    January 1, 1970
    "I need them, anyone, to embrace me, touch me, so I could feel alive." This was a fantastic read. I sat and read until the end. Also a tragedy of lives. Set in Yorkshire in 1843, "Bronte's Mistress" tells the story from the POV of Lydia Robinson, the very lady herself. She has suffered tragic losses and is a sad, angry, lonely woman. Miss Anne Bronte is governess to her daughter's and brings her brother, Bramwell Bronte to be her son's new tutor. Her husband shuts hisself in his office and is "I need them, anyone, to embrace me, touch me, so I could feel alive." This was a fantastic read. I sat and read until the end. Also a tragedy of lives. Set in Yorkshire in 1843, "Bronte's Mistress" tells the story from the POV of Lydia Robinson, the very lady herself. She has suffered tragic losses and is a sad, angry, lonely woman. Miss Anne Bronte is governess to her daughter's and brings her brother, Bramwell Bronte to be her son's new tutor. Her husband shuts hisself in his office and is cold and not affectionate to her at all. But he's suffering unbeknownst to her. She finds passion, love and attention with Bramwell, realizing they have alot in common. This tryst makes her life and everyone's so much worse. I love Austin's vivid imagination and her well done reasearch for this fabulous novel. I can't wait to read more! Thank you to publisher and NetGalley for the eARC
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  • Diane Secchiaroli
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very good historical novel about Lydia Robinson and the Bronte brother Brandon. The plight of women in the mid 19th century is well researched. Lydias husband Edmond has withdrawn his affections from Lydia who is frustrated by her husbands withdrawal. When Brandon is hired to tutor Lydias son Ned, he lavishes attention on Lydia and they begin an affair. It is uncertain which person actually starts the affair. The story is based on parts of the Bronte sisters famous novels. Lydia never This was a very good historical novel about Lydia Robinson and the Bronte brother Brandon. The plight of women in the mid 19th century is well researched. Lydia’s husband Edmond has withdrawn his affections from Lydia who is frustrated by her husband’s withdrawal. When Brandon is hired to tutor Lydia’s son Ned, he lavishes attention on Lydia and they begin an affair. It is uncertain which person actually starts the affair. The story is based on parts of the Bronte sister’s famous novels. Lydia never realizes her wish to break out of society’s standards. She remarried a baronet who does not have the same relationship with Lydia that she searches for. The story is a sad treatise on marriage in the 19th century. Thanks to NetGalley and Atria publishers for this ARC.
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  • Hillary
    January 1, 1970
    I find myself in the difficult position of thoroughly disliking everything about this selfish and occasionally cruel protagonist while still sympathizing utterly with the untenable and lonely life she made for herself. Bonus: I was totally unfamiliar with the source material of the scandalous story, which means I can choose to believe every word without troubling to contradict any of the storyteller's indulgences with pesky assumptions.
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  • Kimberly Brock
    January 1, 1970
    Anything Bronte sets my heart aflutter, but this premise was so titillating I could hardly wait to get my hands on BRONTE'S MISTRESS! I was not disappointed. The story of a scandalous affair between Mrs. Lydia Robinson and her son's tutor, the young Branwell Bronte, is exceptionally conjured by Finola Austin. The conflicted Lydia is a complicated woman of her time, both hateful and pitiful by turns. She is still young enough to be restless, a reluctant mother, often spoiled and always stunted by Anything Bronte sets my heart aflutter, but this premise was so titillating I could hardly wait to get my hands on BRONTE'S MISTRESS! I was not disappointed. The story of a scandalous affair between Mrs. Lydia Robinson and her son's tutor, the young Branwell Bronte, is exceptionally conjured by Finola Austin. The conflicted Lydia is a complicated woman of her time, both hateful and pitiful by turns. She is still young enough to be restless, a reluctant mother, often spoiled and always stunted by her limited options as a lonely wife to an aging man. When Branwell sweeps in with his youth and reckless passions, there's no doubt what will happen between the two. Austin does a beautiful job untangling the consequences of such a desperate grab for happiness. As a reader, I reveled in the deft use of language and the clever tidbits of insight into the Bronte family and their ideas about Lydia. When I finished the last page, I flipped back to the first and started all over again!
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  • Grace Kloeckner
    January 1, 1970
    Brontës Mistress really fell flat for me. The story had so much potential and while there were aspects that I found compelling, the characters were uninspired and not well rounded. There was very little depth and I was not able to be fully pulled into the story. Mrs. Robinson was not a like-able character. She was extremely needy and melodramatic. I struggled with understanding the attraction that Branwell had with her and vice versa. The relationship progressed with little interaction between Brontë’s Mistress really fell flat for me. The story had so much potential and while there were aspects that I found compelling, the characters were uninspired and not well rounded. There was very little depth and I was not able to be fully pulled into the story. Mrs. Robinson was not a like-able character. She was extremely needy and melodramatic. I struggled with understanding the attraction that Branwell had with her and vice versa. The relationship progressed with little interaction between the two and I was left feeling like I missed something. I wish the characters were written with more personality and life. This book had potential, it just didn’t work for me.My thanks to @netgalley and Atria for the ARC.
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    This book is heartbreaking, moving, haunting, poetic, and captivating. Whenever I picked up Brontës Mistress, I feel like I was whisked back in time, and truly went on an emotional rollercoaster with this story. This is Finola Austins debut novel, and what a beyond incredible debut it is! Ms. Austin really knows how to bring the Victorian Era to life. I can only imagine the amount of research she put into every aspect of this book including locations, to characters and their relationships with This book is heartbreaking, moving, haunting, poetic, and captivating. Whenever I picked up “Brontë’s Mistress”, I feel like I was whisked back in time, and truly went on an emotional rollercoaster with this story. This is Finola Austin’s debut novel, and what a beyond incredible debut it is! Ms. Austin really knows how to bring the Victorian Era to life. I can only imagine the amount of research she put into every aspect of this book including locations, to characters and their relationships with one another, to historical events, and beyond. Everything is so well-thought out and imperative to what must be told. She seamlessly weaves fact and fiction, and brings to life a tragic story. This book delves into the affair between Lydia Robinson and Branwell Brontë. From the early pages, you can feel Lydia Robinson’s yearning and need to be loved, and shown that love. We hear her inner thoughts, fears, and griefs. However, the affair is in no way the only event portrayed, as we see the before, during, and after of many people's lives. Lydia’s husband, children, Dr. John Crosby, Anne Brontë, and many other historical figures are brought to life in such a real and authentic way. Each character helps to tell these stories, and we see the consequences and repercussions of every characters’ actions, not only on themselves, but on those around them. Some are good, while others are heart-wrenching. Many characters really ponder doing what others and society may consider right, what they, themselves, feel they should do, and whether they should follow their hearts or not. And the answer is not always clear-cut from one moment to the next. If you love historical fiction novels, I highly recommend this book. I could not wait to see what happened page after page and chapter after chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed the many nods to various Brontë Sisters’ novels as well. Though it is not known for certain whether Lydia and Branwell did indeed have an affair or not, Ms. Austin has brought to life a world in which two people long to be together, but cannot be for reasons you will have to read to find out. I also really enjoyed the “Author’s Note”, and how Ms. Austin explains why she chooses to portray certain moments and events the way she did, etc. I was truly moved by this book. The ending gave me chills. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Atria Books for the ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review, it was incredible to read. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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  • June
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this author's approach to historical fiction--she did a great deal of research to set scenes and get a feel for dialogue, but the characters are her own. (She explains fact vs. fiction in a section at the end.)Ultimately, the character of Lydia is pretty unlikable, even though her situation is pitiable. And her family is downright awful. Branwell Bronte is pretty consistent with how he's been depicted elswhere--closely bonded to his famous sisters but with none of their talent and I really liked this author's approach to historical fiction--she did a great deal of research to set scenes and get a feel for dialogue, but the characters are her own. (She explains fact vs. fiction in a section at the end.)Ultimately, the character of Lydia is pretty unlikable, even though her situation is pitiable. And her family is downright awful. Branwell Bronte is pretty consistent with how he's been depicted elswhere--closely bonded to his famous sisters but with none of their talent and no self-control.I'll look forward to more from this author.Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a digital ARC for the purpose of an unbiased review.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    This book is beautifully written and you can tell the author has extensive knowledge of the Brontes and this historical period. Truth be told I had no idea the Brontes had a brother, or about the alleged affair he had with Lydia Robinson. The one drawback for me was that I found Lydia really unlikeable, so that made me not enjoy the book or care about anything she did. This wasnt a love affair I could support it had any invested feelings in, so that made the book fall flat for me. Nevertheless, This book is beautifully written and you can tell the author has extensive knowledge of the Bronte’s and this historical period. Truth be told I had no idea the Bronte’s had a brother, or about the alleged affair he had with Lydia Robinson. The one drawback for me was that I found Lydia really unlikeable, so that made me not enjoy the book or care about anything she did. This wasn’t a love affair I could support it had any invested feelings in, so that made the book fall flat for me. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the beautiful writing.ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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