Review: Katherine Reay explores personalities and emotions with characters whose lives are far from perfect. There is another common thread in Reay's novels: an abiding love for classic literature from the likes of Jane Austen and The Bronte Sisters. Those of us who adore such classics, and books in general, will find at least one connection to Reay's plots and characters.
"The Bronte Plot" centers on the Lucy Alling, a young woman trying to find her way in the world, but making poor decisions along the way. Her tendencies to embellish and fabricate the truth leads her on a journey of self-discovery and some new revelations about her family. The focus on Lucy's decisions and the consequences is dominant throughout the book. After a point, the discussions and analysis of Lucy's character becomes redundant and slows the plot. I have mixed feelings about Lucy. I felt that I should have connected more with her character given the close study of her personality, but I never fully understood or liked her. The emphasis on Lucy's habitual lying overshadows other aspects of her character and parts of the plot.
After reading the entire story, I am left wondering why a love interest is introduced for Lucy. James enters the story early, sweeping Lucy off her feet. Their whirlwind romance is glossed over. On one page, Lucy is accepting an invitation to dinner; on the next,they have been dating for a few weeks. Details about their relationship are left vague, while other details, like Lucy's low ponytail, are repeated several times in the novel's beginning. Interaction between James and Lucy is absent from much of the plot, with James becoming a physical presence again towards the end. The conclusion offers promise for their relationship without complete closure. Not every book needs a love story, and I think "The Bronte Plot" could stand without the more vague romance between James and Lucy.
"The Bronte Plot" excels in the depiction of England, from London to the countryside. Fans of classic British novels and literary greats will be swept away by Reay's descriptions. The plot definitely took me places where I dream of travelling. Although my connection with Lucy was limited at times, I found common ties with her tourist side. I fully enjoyed the inns, moors, and historic sites that Lucy explored. The relationships she develops along her journey are also significant, especially with James's grandmother, Helen. Helen is an example of strength and courage for both Lucy and readers, and her character makes a significant impact on the story.
Katherine Reay creates unique stories with characters who are reflective of real life with their scars and flaws. "The Bronte Plot" is a fairly quick read that journeys through England and also through the consequences of one's decisions. I wasn't left completely satisfied; but with Reay's detailed writing, other readers may quickly form a connection to the novel's heroine.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Summary from Thomas Nelson: When Lucy’s secret is unearthed, her world begins to crumble. But it may be the best thing that has ever happened to her.
Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious liberties 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 ghosts from 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 impossible circumstances.
Now Lucy must face 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.