"Syrie's modus operandi in writing a fictional biography is to inhabit her character and take on her persona as she writes in the first person. She meticulously researches her subjects and uses original sources as much as possible. . . She also "shows" and doesn't "tell," which demonstrates her maturity as an author. . .

For fans of biographical tales and romance, Syrie's story of Charlotte offers it all: longing and yearning, struggle and success, the searing pain of immeasurable loss, and the happiness of a love that came unbidden and unsought. I did not want this story to end."

Jane Austens World

"Charlotte Bronte’s life reads like a novel...  I was charmed by her relationship with the Reverend Arthur Bell Nicholls, who apparently unbeknownst to Bronte, had been in-love with her for over seven years...   Like Charlotte Bronte's work, this memoir is a melding of both tragedy and joy.  Blurred lines between fact & fiction are so masterfully written I had to remind myself that The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte is just the fruit of Syrie James's genius. James not only made me sigh in all the right places, and weep at the tragic losses -- James taught me, like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, to gradually allow my former prejudices to be removed.  If you haven’t read this book, you need to add it to the top of your list!"


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. An excellent combination of truth and conjecture that is a gratifying and magnetizing read! I have had the wonderful pleasure of reading Syrie James's first book, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and in both books I find myself very impressed by the author's extensive research and knowledge about these two literary figures. In addition, I felt she captured an accurate and distinct voice and personality for both Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. As you can already tell, I am now a big admirer of Syrie James . . .

I was delighted to learn more about all the Brontes (not just Charlotte) and . . . it was interesting to see how many of the experiences and people from their lives were used in their novels. . . Ms. James depicted a very integral and descriptive portrayal that leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of Charlotte Bronte. I dearly hope she continues to write more in this vein, I love her reverent and precise representation of these beloved authors. In addition, her graceful story telling is seamless and entertaining. I highly recommend this novel."

Austenesque Reviews

James' book provoked tears at times, and a delicious romantic shiver at others. It's truly masterful."

Meditative Meanderings

One that touched me "here" (putting hand over heart)... I have, of course, read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and seen many film adaptations of the same, but I don't remember a lot about the Brontes. So it was a joy to read the story with no expectations. I didn't know what was coming.

I have to say the reasons I LOVED this book were:

  • It was written in a style that was easy to read, yet the voice seemed very right.
  • This family, with their wild imaginations and art and poetry and stories are so inspiring to fellow creatives.
  • A sincere, serious, artistic, intellectually curious and underdog heroine - a poor spinster who refused to be limited or defined by that label.
  • Sisters who truly loved each other, who collaborated with each other as writers - so amazing!
  • Interesting twists and turns - for a real life story.
  • Insightful explanations into some of the background and story behind the story of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
  • Romance, of course - an unexpected sweet, rocky romance.
  • And overall a sense of the precious beauty of life, even when short-lived.
Now I'm very curious to sample some other books by Syrie James..."

Bohemian Season

"You really have to have trekked the rocky moors from the Bronte Parsonage up to the ruins that so long ago inspired Emily Bronte to pen Wuthering Heights, to truly appreciate this insightful and richly emotive novel. I was transported. And this can be a most pleasant experience on occasion. The Bronte sisters were so removed from the world and yet so compelling to get to know. If you've ever been a Bronte reader, then I'd thoroughly recommend Syrie James's book. If you've never dabbled in Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, what's stopping you? "

Sonoma Country Life

"Syrie James first showcased her research prowess with her novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and the skill has come in handy again in The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë. Although framed as Brontë's confessional journal, James easily takes the biography of Brontë and sketches it into a work of art. . . The availability of specific, passionate details is what gives the book its main pull. . . Syrie manages to weave the dysfunction of the family into the journal in quite a touching manner. . . A can't-miss novel for Brontë fans and historical fiction buffs alike."

—Sacramento Book Review

"Syrie James's book offers a delightful portrait of this groundbreaking nineteenth century author. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë offers a compelling story that focuses on the lives of the Brontë sisters as told by Charlotte . . . James makes sense of the events of Charlotte's life, tells a story that captures the language and feel of the times, and keeps the novel moving at a fast pace. . . James's book is a captivating and entertaining read. James is so winning in her narrative style that by the end of the tale the reader will be convinced that she, in fact, has discovered Charlotte's secret diary."

Feathered Quill Book Reviews

"Last night I closed a book ... and felt like I had lost a friend. I'm not ashamed to admit I cried. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte was an amazing journey through the life of one of my very favorite authors... Author Syrie James ... weaves a beautiful story that fleshes out the skeleton and breathes life into a much loved and respected family in the literary world. Her language is flawless, blending in with the period. The words could be Charlotte's own as the story unfolds."

Kaye's Book Reviews

Charlotte's feelings towards the shy Mr. Nicholls grow and change realistically throughout the eight years of the narrative. . . The story is impeccably researched, the language authentic feeling, and James has imagined a story that most Bronte fans will enjoy thoroughly. In some ways, her tale of Charlotte's life almost seems like an undiscovered plot from one of Bronte's own works."


"An emotionally complex journey. . . Throughout this compelling story we are swept into the very mind and heart of Bronte's life as she struggles, along with her sisters, to write and then publish the many works for which they are now famous, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Charlotte's secret passion for a married man, her heartbreaks, and the inspiration for her many works are spilled across every page of this wonderful novel, making you forget that it is Syrie and not Bronte herself weaving this enigmatic and forceful tale.

A triumph in every way, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat, where you can almost feel the chill winds blowing across the moors of Yorkshire and hear the voice of a writer who, although long gone, still manages to whisper her every secret longing, thought, and desire in your ear."


"I have to state emphatically I loved this book! Charlotte is intelligent, outspoken, serious-minded, protective of her siblings, and of a passionate nature that she tries hard to stifle... I found it astonishing that as close as the siblings were, each of them harbored secrets that they did not want to share... Syrie James's writing style is as if Charlotte had written it herself. The words are descriptive, flowing and melodious... The book was consuming--hard to put down, especially for me a Bronte fan... I declare this is an excellent portrayal of Charlotte Bronte and her life. I can not express strongly enough how much I loved this book! "

Impressions in Ink

"The life of Victorian-era author Charlotte Brontë has always held an air of mystery around it. Well known for her beloved novel "Jane Eyre," and for coming from a family of authors, Brontë's personal life has been a fairly well-kept secret to all but the most enthusiastic of fans. Until now. Bestselling author Syrie James's latest work examines the life of Brontë detailed in diary form, and through the voice of Charlotte herself the reader learns of the hardships and triumphs of the Yorkshire author and her family. . . .

"Syrie James presents the story of Charlotte Brontë in an engaging manner that brings the beloved author to life as never before. Although this is a work of fiction, James takes great pains to get every detail exactly as it was in Charlotte's real life. This fascinating novel is a delight to read, and should send readers scurrying to discover James's previous novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen."

—Wichita Falls Times Record Review/ Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

"James's immersion into the subject, the phrasing, and the complete Bronte-ness while writing Charlotte's "diary" was refreshing and fun. . . At times a kunstleroman unearthing Charlotte's genius-in-embryo and at times a rip-your-heart-out parallel of the events in that greatest of tragedies, Villette, I sped through the book. I applaud James for assimilating Bronte's prose and style . . .

James painted a truthful canvas and allowed me to spin around in a world at once romantic and melancholy. . . Perhaps the portion most dear to my heart was Charlotte's account of her time at the Pensionnat Heger: the experience which founded her most autobiographical novel, Villette. James uncovers the passion between master and pupil and draws readers back to the original source.

I really, thoroughly, heartily enjoyed this celebration of Bronte's life and developing romance with the curate Arthur Bell Nichols. Any one who has ever peeked at a Bronte letter, or stole into Charlotte's Juvenalia, or re-read those parts in Jane Eyre (you know THOSE parts), will find in this work not a stranger, but a welcoming friend. If James set out to revitalize my love for Charlotte Bronte (especially having witnessed her through a slightly different lens) she more than succeeded."

A Fair Substitute For Heaven

"I felt humbled to have been witness to so much of someone's true life. It gave a very clear picture of the hardships, sorrows, loss and happier days of one of the world's most amazing authors. Now I have to read Jane Eyre and Villette again! I will also look forward to Syrie James' next intimate portrait." ...

"5 STARS. If I could give this more stars I would. I think I read the last half of the book in one sitting. I didn't know much about Charlotte's life before reading this. It is fiction but based on facts. It was interesting to learn what inspired 'Jane Eyre.'"


"The book, based largely on Charlotte’s diaries and correspondence, is written in Charlotte’s voice, as if she were speaking in the first person. This narrative style impressed me no end, and is a mark of James’s stupendous talent. Writers have their own voice – to mask that voice, and to tell a tale in the voice of another is no mean feat. Right from the word go the entire conversation is between you, reader, and Charlotte. Syrie James does not interfere anywhere. Such is the skill with which she has woven facts, with very limited ‘fillers’ to keep the narration smooth. Oh she’s a clever one, that Syrie James... As I lived Charlotte’s life vicariously through this book, I understood the secret of her ‘success’ – she had learnt the art of chiselling perfect characters from a very exacting teacher – Life. And what a life – ripped, ravaged, torn, strewn by tragedy of the worst kind...And yet, a life so full of fire, passion, intelligence and independent spirit that one can only applaud instead of shedding tears."

This and That

"Unbeknownst to many avid Brontë readers, Charlotte Brontë's actual life was fraught with as much love and tragedy as compellingly depicted in her novels. . . Through Charlotte's diary, the reader is privy to her inspirations and heartaches, her secret jealousies, and more importantly, her muse. . . The revelation of Charlotte's romantic relationships-- her shocking infatuation with a married man and the evolution of her relationship with her father's curate and future husband, Arthur Bell Nichols-- is fascinating, especially when coming from a persona initially considered so subdued and controlled.

But it is Charlotte's relationship with her sisters that is most arresting. Their camaraderie, arguments, and private confidences all touched genuine, so much so that by the time the expected tragedies befell the Brontë household, the poignancy was not only incredibly believable, but its intensity will assail the reader. . .

Written with such precision so as to seamlessly weave extremely thorough historical research with dramatic fiction . . . the reconstruction of Ms. Brontë's life is done with such creativity and realism that it's hard to imagine this is "not" what happened. . . By the end, the reader feels a real kinship with not only Charlotte, but all of the Brontës. Charlotte Brontë's life and imagination are revived anew in Syrie James's THE SECRET DIARIES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE. A must buy for Brontë-ites!"

Romance Junkies

"This lovingly researched novel blends historical fact and fiction, through the imagined pages of Charlotte Brontë's journal. Its pages are filled with intimate feelings, reflections, and struggles, and capture the back story to the Brontë sisters' classics. It will certainly make you grab your copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte, Wuthering Heights by Emily, and Agnes Grey by Anne and revisit them."

For Her Information

James did a lovely job inhabiting her heroine's mind and giving breath to a life. I particularly enjoyed parts that showed the source materials for the novels. There is a great deal here for discussion, and I would highly recommend this for book groups and even classes. Anyone who is a fan of the Brontë family will enjoy this book immensely. For myself, I'm going to read James's Austen book next!"

Romance Reader at Heart

"Thanks to author Syrie James, we can imagine what it might be like to read Charlotte's private thoughts. . . This was a delightful novel. I felt Charlotte's agony at the loss of her family and I shivered with her when she sought solace in the moor landscape of her English home. Ultimately, I cheered her for persevering against the establishment and succeeding in getting her works published (even if she had to publish them under a male pseudonym.) Additionally, I loved the "extras" at the end of the book - where I could read samples of Charlotte's actual letters and poems. I've been inspired to read (and re-read) all of the Bronte sisters' books!

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte was recently selected as a "great group read" by the Women's National Book Association. A well deserved honor for Charlotte's "diary."

Gerbera Daisy Diaries

"The book has a unique structure, a clever one. . . Charlotte reveals the past bit by bit . . . in a way that thematically works, as she 'chooses' to share it with the reader. The framework . . . is her relationship with her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. Her story starts with the revelation that he's proposed . . . (and wow, what a proposal!) and subsequent courtship (the road to love was not that smooth for this couple). But this book isn't just about that romance. Far from it. . . the picture within that frame, if you will, is the dynamic relationships of the Bronte family. . . More specifically, it deals with the passionate determination of all three sisters to write--both poetry and novels. I learned so much from reading this . . . The book is engaging and compelling. It made me want to read more."

Becky's Book Reviews

"Faithful to the writer's language, time, and place. This is bound to fascinate admirers of the doomed Brontës."

Library Journal

"Syrie James has studied Charlotte's life and has drawn on many of the sources she studied, such as Charlotte's letters . . . to tell Charlotte's story in her own voice. We read about her experiences at boarding school; her time in Belgium teaching at a pensionnat and her attachment to the married headmaster Monsieur Heger; the evolution of her and her sisters' writing careers . . . and her relationship with her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, who later became her husband. By the time I finished reading, I had an understanding of how Charlotte's life experiences are reflected in her novels. . .

"I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author has done a wonderful job. The story of Charlotte's life flows like a novel and has the sounds of a 19th century diary. I had to keep reading to find out how Charlotte went from disliking Mr. Nicholls to marrying him!"

—Historical Novels Review

5 OF HEARTS RATING - You must read this book NOW!!
"I loved every single page of this book and felt like I was walking beside Charlotte Bronte... I have yet to read Jane Eyre, but after reading this lovely book I know that I will absolutely enjoy my venture into Charlotte Bronte's first novel. I totally understood why she had a crush on a former teacher and how that shaped the way she felt about love. The book portrays her as a kind soul who never gave up hope that one day she and her sister's work would be published. Reading this book gave me a personal insight into her life and one that has left an indelible mark on me."

Life in the Thumb Book Reviews

"Like Jane Eyre, Brontë did not have an easy life. Her mother died when she was young and she lost two sisters at a school very similar to her infamous Lowood Institution. But the life that James describes, while full of trials, also shows how her life was full of love, friendship, and the joy of creativity.

James's interpretation of this famous life reads like a novel, but demonstrates diligent research. She uses the factual framework of Brontë's life, culled from past biographies and letters, and adds her own interpretation of the details that have been left out. This beautiful book told the story of a remarkable life in a such a way that will satisfy both true Brontë devotees and those who just want to read a great book."

Little Apple Bookworm

in The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, a volume in which dear Miss Brontë (assisted by the imagination of Syrie James) has decided to "unburden her soul" . . . In reading Charlotte's diary, I'm coming to understand even more about this woman and her strong commitment to her ideals and her art. Reading about her life, her determination to see her work in print, to share the stories that she felt deserved to be told, I appreciate even more the writer's craft and the work entailed in spinning stories for the world to read."

Book Stack

"I found myself drawn into Charlotte's world . . . I loved the way she stood up for her own ideals. Her drive to have her book published, even using a pseudonym, was remarkable. The emotional loss of her siblings was earth shattering and brought tears to my eyes. Loved it! And I'll be picking up the author's first book, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen."


"Charlotte's diary shows the sisters' enthusiasm for their writing as they band together in their creativity as well as their father's loving support. The diary also follows Charlotte's ups and downs in the romance department as she tries to forget a former love. And things get quite lively when the new curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, comes to town and sets in to set the town folk and Charlotte on her ear. . . Interweaving flashbacks to Charlotte's childhood, James fills the readers in on the immense sadness the Brontë family faced. . . But there were also periods of great joy and love, rounding out Charlotte's brief but creative life. . . a delight to read!"

Miss Remmers' Review

"James has researched her subject thoroughly, and it shows . . . Her portrayals of Charlotte's friends and family are true to life and three-dimensional, and where the author fills in gaps and creates dramatic tension between Charlotte and her suitor, it seems plausible. Having read more than my fair share of feminist critics who treat Charlotte's marriage to Nicholls as a tragic example of a gifted female succumbing to male domination, I was pleased to see that James treats the marriage positively, and even romantically. Though one might enjoy this book better if one has read Charlotte Bronte's novels (and those of her sisters), it's not necessary. James's book also contains a number of extras: besides the usual afterword, there's a question-and-answer section for the author, excerpts from some of Charlotte's letters, and some poems by the Bronte siblings.

"As I liked this book so much, I'll be picking up James's first novel, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen."

Medieval Woman

"With this latest offering from Ms. James, I was taken into the mind of Brontë. And, boy, what a mind! . . . The Brontë sisters lived in the wilds of Yorkshire, far away from the hustle and bustle of London . . . a perfect location for the well-written scenic background of this book. . . Life for these famous sisters was certainly no picnic. . . I assure you, you will never look at the Brontë sisters as mere writers again. The passion, intelligence, mystery, and perfection that these two minds shared was astounding. Talk about a gifted family... you'll love it."

Once Upon A Romance

"This is a meticulously researched account of Charlotte Bronte's life. The author . . . really brought Charlotte to life as an intelligent, feisty, passionate woman, and Charlotte's romance with her future husband, Arthur Nicholls, was also convincing. I liked also how the author showed the source of many scenes and Rochester himself from Jane Eyre."

Library Thing

"I loved this book! I also loved the author's first book . . . This is a very well researched story of Charlotte Bronte and her family . . . full of friendship, tragedy, hope and love. What a wonderful book. It's definitely one I will read again. It gives light to the Bronte sisters' reasons behind writing and inspirations for their stories."

Dragonflowers and Books

". . . that uses a diary to tell the tale of Charlotte Brontë, author of "Jane Eyre." Using a first person perspective brings depth to the great author even that much more. . . Syrie James does her research to tell the story of Charlotte Brontë as she did with THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN."

The World of Romance

"James adapts Brontë's voice, telling Brontë's story as though it came straight from the great writer. Living with an alcoholic, drug-addicted brother and a deeply eccentric father, Brontë--and her sisters--still managed to write some of the most famous novels of their time. With "The Secret Diaries," James offers a satisfying--if partly imagined--history of the real-life experiences that inspired Brontë's classic novels."


"Charlotte Brontë is an author who is near and dear to my heart. . . I was delighted to read The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë as Syrie James is successful in capturing the authentic voice and spirit of Charlotte Brontë. . . The emphasis of the diary is the exploration of her heart; the effects of the tragic loss of so many she loved, her relationship with the curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls, and the personal fulfillment this unlikely relationship ultimately brings to Charlotte's life. Highly recommended for fans of Jane Eyre. "

Slice of Life

"Syrie James recreates how the poor, plain, and socially unconnected Ms. Brontë became a literary sensation. Based on extensive research, Brontë's deepest passions and desires, triumphs, and disappointments come to life, as her sisters, Emily and Anne, too gained fame for their work. Anyone who is a fan of her work will welcome and enjoy this remarkable novel."


"Written very much in the style of the heroine's novels, THE SECRET DIARIES OF CHARLOTTE BRONTË covers the tumultuous last years of Charlotte's life. For a fictionalized account of a historical person, the story is well researched and closely follows the events of Charlotte's life, subtly interweaving her personalized view of the situations . . . Today's popular novels set in this era do little justice to the dangerous situation in which unmarried women found themselves, but this story does. All the nuances and problems of being a spinster in the nineteenth century seemed to have only challenged Charlotte. Her accomplishments are therefore even more notable. Her secret diary, as presented by author Syrie James, captures all the heartache and triumphs of the independent and creative spirit Charlotte Bronte must have been."

Romance Reviews Today

". . . and well-researched . . . I'd originally thought that the book was going to be more about Charlotte and Arthur's relationship; but it's also about Charlotte herself, and her relationship with her sisters, brother, and father. I liked Charlotte's view of the world; I was especially interested in her opinions of Monsieur Heger, the married man that Charlotte had strong feelings for. But more interesting is the relationship between Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Brontë . . . unique women, remarkable each in their own way."

A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

"Syrie James's extensive research . . . shows all throughout the book. . . . Charlotte begins keeping this diary shortly after receiving Arthur's proposal of marriage. She then tells the story of her life, which is inseparable from her family's, through flashbacks inserted in-between the chain of events that led to said proposal - and beyond - ever since Arthur Bell Nicholls arrived in Haworth in 1845. This non-linear structure works surprisingly well, as Syrie James aptly places each flashback at the precise relevant moment . . . James excels at her depiction of life at Roe Head School, for instance. . . The boarding school life, the misfit that Charlotte must have been when she first got there, and the actual train of events are all clearly, magically evoked. . .

"The style in which the novel is written imitates Charlotte Brontë's . . . Syrie James has included direct and extensive quotes and occurrences from all sorts of sources (novels, letters, prefaces, etc.) This effort to keep Charlotte Brontë and her family and friends speaking for themselves is truly praiseworthy. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë" by Syrie James is completely readable and extremely respectful to its subjects. . . Readers will be glued to its pages from start to finish and, no doubt, will want to read more by and about the Brontës. And for that, especially, we thank Syrie James." "

—Bronte Blog

"Charlotte's first diary entry in this novel recounts a marriage proposal that sets the house aflutter. And readers learn of another hidden crush, friendships, hardship, and heartbreak in the narrative of her tale. . . Syrie James writes in a similar style to Charlotte and Emily. . . The style works well for this story as it mirrors both the time period and Charlotte's writing. . . Knowing that a story portrays an individual - and not just a made-up character - gives an extra sense of passion and curiosity to my reading. Fans of historical fiction - and the Brontë sisters in particular -- will find this an enjoyable read."

—Fresh Fiction

"This is a wonderfully well written work. The author brings Charlotte and her family to life with this realistic account. Despite their fame, the Brontë family has always seemed a bit mysterious and this book made them seem more real to me. . . The author has such a feel for her subject that it is hard to remember sometimes that this is a fictional and somewhat romanticized account of actual incidents."

—Coffeetime Romance

"As a fan of Jane Eyre I was very interested in this book, and it did not disappoint. If I had to imagine it myself, this is exactly what I would have pictured as a diary for Charlotte Bronte. And it is that much better because of the research that has gone into it, and the fact that it is mostly based on fact. The writing was great, captivating. I will certainly read the Jane Austen book as well."

chapters.indigo.ca (CANADA)

"The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte was an incredible and mesmerizing story. I was quickly drawn into Charlotte's world and her hardships she faced along with her triumphs and ultimately finding true love. There are some very intense and sad moments in this book, yet it is a beautiful story. I think one reason I enjoy the story of Jane Eyre is how passionate Jane is, and I find that Syrie James does a wonderful job of showing the passion of Charlotte Bronte."

Starr Weavings

James really does a great job of getting into an author’s head and mimicking their style and humor and writing in such a way that at times you believe it is Charlotte Brontë writing and not a 21st century author. James seamlessly pulls in fact and fiction to weave a great story that was very difficult to put down."

The Oddness of Moving Things - A Literary Journey