The Bronte Project – Jennifer Vandever

I found this novel in Target for $6, so obviously had to buy it. I’m always slightly concerned about this type of novel – contemporary takes on a classic, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  It’s not a re-telling, prequel or sequel, but rather a modern novel about a Bronte academic – the project in question is making a movie of Charlotte Bronte’s life.

Here’s the blurb …

“As to intense passion, I am convinced that it is no desirable feeling” Charlotte Bronte, 1840.

Shy young scholar Sara Frost’s unsuccessful search for the lost love letters of Charlotte Bronte hasn’t won her any favours at her university, particularly now the glamorous new Head of Princess Diana Studies has introduced her media-savvy exploits to the staid halls of academia.
But it’s not until Sara’s fiance suddenly leaves her that she begins to question her life’s vocation. How can she reconcile the mythology of romance with the harsh reality of modern love? As she tentatively re-enters the dating scene, Sara is to discover that the life and writings of Charlotte Bronte have more to teach her than she could ever have guessed about the perils and pitfalls of the 21st century relationship game.

Each chapter has an excerpt from one of Charlotte’s letters, which I found fascinating. For example,

… No young lady should fall in love till the offer has been made, accepted – the marriage ceremony performed and the first half year of wedded life has passed away – a woman may then begin to love but with great precaution – very coolly – very moderately – very rationally – If she ever loves so much that a harsh word or a cold look from her husband cuts her to the heart  – she is a fool …

Charlotte Bronte, to Ellen Nussey 1840

This novel has a great story and it’s lots of fun to read – the characters are hilarious. Claire, the Princess Diana scholar, who edits a journal called Labia. Claire’s brother who calls himself a poem (yes that’s right a poem), the two men who try to live in the 19th century (their New York apartment is very cold in winter) and finally Sara, our heroine, who is searching for lost Bronte letters. She teams up with Mr Emmons to create a movie on Charlotte Bronte, but her life is deemed too depressing (could they end with her wedding and not her death and does she really have to marry Arthur Bell  Nicholls?). You don’t have to be a bronte fan to read this anyone who enjoys romantic comedy fiction will like this one.

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