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Bronte’s Mistress

One of the most heartbreakingly honest books I have ever read depicting the life of a Victorian woman. I must admit that I had my reservations about reading Bronte’s Mistress because I had heard from my friends that it doesn’t end in neatly wrapped up happily ever after -which is true. While it is an emotionally difficult book to read, it is so beautifully written that I could not put it down. Anyone interest in Victorian-era life needs to grab this book. It gives such a unique perspective into the suffocating life that so many Victorian women were forced to lead.

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.

Picture taken from Pinterest

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.

One of aspects of the book that really drew me in was that it really made you evaluate what you were do in Lydia’s shoes. It is so easy to judge others when you aren’t living in the same situations that they have been through. This book really made me stop and think how I would feel if I were in her place.

Here is a Pinterest board to give a visual of Victorian life to go along with the book.

Finola Austin, also known as the Secret Victorianist on her award-winning blog, is an England-born, Northern Ireland-raised, Brooklyn-based historical novelist and lover of the 19th century. By day, she works in digital advertising. Find her online at Brontë’s Mistress is her debut novel. 


Thank you to Laurel Ann and Finola to allowing me to be a part of this tour. It was a privilege to read this book and better understand the lives of women before our time.

Melissa has been in love with books since she was a child. As a young girl, in her Holly Hobby decorated room, she would sit and tape scraps of paper to her books so that she could organize them by the Dewey Decimal System. She is a huge advocate for helping children learn to love reading. Along with hosting an online Regency based book club and a book club at her home, she started a book club for kids at her son’s school. These days, Melissa can be found at the library writing a book review or tucked in some quiet corner having a love affair with a newly discovered romance novel.

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