This is a well-researched historical fiction book about the supposed affair between the mistress of a home and Branwell Bronte, the brother of the daughters’ governess Anne Bronte, and the other famous Bronte sisters.
Set in 1843, Lydia Robinson is the mother of 1 son and 4 girls, one of whom died earlier in the year, and wife to a neglectful husband. The book opens as she returns from the funeral of her mother, which she attended alone. Upon her return, she discovers that her husband has hired a male tutor, Branwell Bronte, for their son. Feeling alone, old and unloved, Lydia begins to flirt with Branwell and eventually they start an affair. When the affair is discovered by their servants, she puts an end to it and eventually Branwell is sent away.
I didn’t care for this book and couldn’t wait for it to end. I seem to be in the minority of reviewers so far, but I didn’t like the writing style. There was almost no character building and therefore I didn’t care for any of them. I really didn’t care for Lydia, who seemed like a cold, callous, passive aggressive, petulant child. She was jealous of the relationship between her daughters and their governess Anne, but didn’t do anything to try to get closer to her girls or befriend Anne. She felt the daughters should make the effort, which of course being teenagers and pre-teenagers, was unrealistic. Her son was barely mentioned other than to notice that he was always hungry or falling asleep, and she had nothing good to say about her husband.
This book and I just didn’t click, but others seemed to really enjoy it, so perhaps you will too.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Atria books in exchange for an honest review.
August 25, 2020 at 8:22 am
I felt the same way about Brontë’s Mistress. Lydia irritated me so much, I couldn’t wait for the book to end.