The best Brontë sisters books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Brontë sisters and why they recommend each book.

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After Story

By Larissa Behrendt,

Book cover of After Story

If you’re a lover of women’s literature – Austen, the Brontës, Woolf – you are in for an utterly original treat with this mother-daughter odyssey. Australian Indigenous lawyer, Jasmine, takes her mother, Della, to England, wanting to indulge her passion for literature with a tour of significant dead-white-author sites. But what is really found along the way are the rich veins of ancient stories and the essential power we all possess: listening. This is a moving and intricate portrait of intergenerational, post-colonial trauma that examines whose stories get to be told and whose need to be told. For me, as an Australian and a lover of English literature, After Story is a slice of necessary truth-telling, which I predict will become an Australian classic of the future. 

Who am I?

A genuine Aussie bookish girl, I’ve been an editor in the Australian publishing industry for 25 years, and I’ve been writing Australian novels for 15 of them. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m reviewing Australian books – can’t get enough of them! I’ve dedicated my heart and mind to exploring and seeking to understand the contradictions and quirks of the country I am privileged to call home, from its bright, boundless skies to the deepest sorrows of bigotry and injustice. Acknowledging the brilliance of those women writers who’ve come before me and shining a light ahead for all those to come is the most wonderful privilege of all. 

I wrote...

Her Last Words

By Kim Kelly,

Book cover of Her Last Words

What is my book about?

Thisbe Chisholm wants to be a writer. It's 2007, a time of digital revolution, but she’s an old-fashioned girl – she doesn't even own a mobile phone. She longs only to tell the stories written on her heart. But just as she completes her first novel, she is brutally killed at the end of her boyfriend’s street. Who murdered Thisbe? What will become of her novel?

From the gritty glamour of Bondi Beach to the cold streets of London, this is a tale of literary betrayal and a great love drowning in guilt-wracked grief. Haunting, whimsical, and sharply observed, Her Last Words lays bare the truth that words have a way of enduring - and exacting a justice all their own.

The Mother of the Brontës

By Sharon Wright,

Book cover of The Mother of the Brontës: When Maria Met Patrick

So much has been written about the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne but, what of their mother, Maria? In this fascinating book, Maria (and her husband, Patrick) are brought to the forefront of the Brontë story. We learn about Maria’s early life in Cornwall, her move to Yorkshire, her ambition as a writer, and the influence she had on her incredible daughters. We begin to understand Maria’s daughters better by getting to know Maria herself.

Who am I?

I often feel as if I live with one foot in the present, and one in the past. It’s always been the little-known stories that fascinate me the most, especially women’s history. Their lives can be harder to research, but more rewarding for that. As a writer and historian, it has been wonderful to discover the histories of intriguing but ‘overlooked’ women, and to share their tales. I hope you enjoy reading the books I have selected as much as I did!

I wrote...

A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages That Changed History

By Joanne Major, Sarah Murden,

Book cover of A Right Royal Scandal: Two Marriages That Changed History

What is my book about?

Have you ever heard the story of Sinnetta Lambourne, the Romany girl who was the wife of Queen Elizabeth II’s great-grandfather? Her husband, the Reverend Charles (Charley) Cavendish-Bentinck was a man ahead of his times in his outlook. He followed his heart, against the wishes of his family and titled relatives. A generation earlier, Charley’s parents had been at the centre of a Regency-era scandal. His mother, married to the ‘richest commoner’ in the country, was the Duke of Wellington’s niece. Just weeks after the Battle of Waterloo, she eloped with her lover…

Discover the untold story of the British royal family’s recent history.

The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë

By Emily Jane Brontë,

Book cover of The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë

As well as being the best Gothic style verses in the English language with the possible exception of some by Edgar Allan Poe-there are some way ahead of their time. "If Earth & Moon were gone" prefigures Mach's Principle, which was only formulated 4 decades after EJB thought of it. Anyone lucky enough to find an edition with EJB's Essays she wrote in Brussels will have a copy of her formulation of Evolutionary theory 2 decades before Mr. Darwin claimed it as his own.

Who am I?

As Rebecca Roberts in Apocalypse was an ancestor whose achievements have been largely ignored-maybe because of gender-it seemed to be time to redress the balance. A female author may have done the job better, but none stepped forward at the time and Hollywood screenwriter K.Lewis was keen to write a screenplay, requiring a concept screenplay outline as a guide. It was that which later became the 1st Edition of Apocalypse.

I wrote...

Apocalypse, Third Edition

By Paul Camster,

Book cover of Apocalypse, Third Edition

What is my book about?

Based on real events-Rebecca Roberts (aka Becca the Vampyre Slayer) takes on the section of Prince Rupert`s army known as The Vampyre Legion, which is sent to capture the west coast so that its commander-Lord Capel-can land a huge army and conquer all before him. On the way, Becca undergoes multiple attempts on her life.

The Brontes

By Juliet Barker,

Book cover of The Brontes

Juliet Barker’s monumental biography, The Brontes (Abacus), certainly falls into the category of the tried and tested which will not let you down. A fiercely revisionist, meticulously researched reassessment of the background, landscape, and events that shaped and formed Patrick, Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne, it breathes fresh air and common sense into the dark myths and fantasies which envelop the sisters in particular. I love it for the hard work that the author invested in it, her detail, her scrupulous integrity, and her determination to get at the truth about the individuals and the family as a whole. She argues well and powerfully that "without this intense family relationship, some of the greatest novels in the English language might never have been written."

Who am I?

Elizabeth Buchan began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books. She moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full-time. Her novels include the award-winning Consider the Lily, The Museum of Broken Promises, and the international bestseller, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, which was made into a CBS Primetime Drama. Elizabeth’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She has reviewed for The Times, the Sunday Times, and the Daily Mail, and has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes. She has been a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and for the 2014 Costa Novel Award.

I wrote...

Two Women in Rome

By Elizabeth Buchan,

Book cover of Two Women in Rome

What is my book about?

A city full of secrets…Lottie Archer arrives in Rome newly married and ready for change. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence. Nina seems to have led a rewarding life restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978? Researching Nina’s life, Lottie unravels a love story beset by the violence and political turmoil of post-war Italy – only to find that its betrayals and sacrifices subtly shape her own future.

"This gorgeously written novel has as many twists and shadows as the baroque city in which it is set." Daily Mail

Secret Scribbled Notebooks

By Joanne Horniman,

Book cover of Secret Scribbled Notebooks

I’m a sucker for endpapers so, with inside covers that appear browned with age, this book instantly grabbed me. I was even more drawn in by the edges of all pages looking aged, with the book’s title repeatedly running along the bottom of each one like a handwritten footer. Once I was reading, the flavour of classics like those by the Bronte sisters and Jane Austin meant I couldn’t put it down.

Set in the later part of the 20th century, Kate’s story explores self-worth and finding purpose. First-person narrative uses language cleverly. It is easy to read, the voice unpretentious. I felt like I knew Kate. We have so much in common, including the ability to write in the dark and a penchant for taking laneways rather than main roads.

Who am I?

Working in schools, I was surrounded by young people facing challenges and finding their place in the world. Their lives were affected by various relationships, family, and their own personalities. I thrived on their energy and was privileged when they shared their stories, hopes, fears, and uncertainties. I witnessed hearts captured by young love that wasn’t always returned and marvelled at how those without good family support still managed to stay true to themselves no matter what life threw at them. Thank goodness for human resilience. I’m no poet but enjoy language and using poetic devices. I became a writer when teen characters insisted that I give voice to their stories.

I wrote...

Out of This Place

By Emma Cameron,

Book cover of Out of This Place

What is my book about?

Finding your way in life can be hard, especially without the right people around you. Out of This Place presents teens Luke, Casey, and Bongo at a major life crossroad. They’re looking for change and want to escape. Where they end up is determined not only by circumstances but also by their choices. Their overlapping stories are delivered in free verse.

I didn’t make a conscious choice to write it this way. It was simply how Luke spoke to me. His voice crept into my head as a monologue. I enjoy writing in this style as it causes readers to pause in particular places so as to immerse them in the mood and situation more readily than the words otherwise would. Though not considered poetry, this form lends itself to performance.

Mexican Gothic

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia,

Book cover of Mexican Gothic

Speaking of immersive reading experiences, this book swept me up and made me feel like part of the story—and better yet, it made me truly care about the characters. I was rooting for Noemi, a strong, resilient main character, for the entire book. And I was equally riveted and terrified as she fought against the nightmarish pull of the gloom, as well as the untrustworthy inhabitants of High House. 

Who am I?

I’ve always been captivated by dark stories—from my teen years watching my favorite creepy show, The X-Files, to now as an adult writing my own thrilling stories. What really draws me to these stories of darkness are the flickers of light they inevitably contain—the love between characters; the growth when characters find their strength after enduring difficult times; and ultimately, the hope they can find even when all seems lost. To me, finding your way through the darkness and into the light—and getting creeped out along the way—makes for the best kind of story, and it’s the kind I strive to write as an author.

I wrote...

Iris in the Dark

By Elissa Grossell Dickey,

Book cover of Iris in the Dark

What is my book about?

Iris in the Dark is the story of an overprotective single mother who must face her worst fear—the past. When Iris is entrusted to house-sit at a lodge on the South Dakota prairie, she thinks she’s prepared for anything. But late one night, she hears a chilling cry for help coming from a walkie-talkie buried in a box of toys. As the calls get more desperate, personal, and menacing, Iris realizes the person on the other end isn’t reaching out for help. They’re reaching out to terrorize her. Now the only way for Iris to move forward in life is to confront the past she’s been running from…a threat that has now followed her into the dark.

Free Food for Millionaires

By Min Jin Lee,

Book cover of Free Food for Millionaires

And now the year is 2007, and here’s the big-ass Korean-American book we’ve all been waiting for – Free Food for Millionaires. In baseball terms: while the rest of us first-time novelists choked up our bats and hit our singles and doubles, Min Jin swung for the fences. At the center of the novel is Casey Kim and her quest to find her passion, never mind the consequences of being basically disowned by her parents, but make no mistake: the scope of this book is like that of Casey’s favorite authors, George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, and Anthony Trollope. There are multiple generations of Koreans at work and play here. It’s exactly the type of book I love to read and never even consider writing, because I just don’t have that kind of ambition. Thank goodness some do!

Who am I?

My recommendations are more like a diary of my nascent writing career. I don’t mean to get melodramatic here, but these five Korean-American authors literally (get it?) built me. None of them know this, but they were a quintet of Dr. Frankensteins who created Sung J. Woo, writer. I dared to write my first novel because these authors showed me how, in the best possible way, the only way, really: through their printed words. When I held their books in my hands, I believed a little more that I could do the same. I’ll always be proud to be in their debt.

I wrote...

Everything Asian

By Sung J. Woo,

Book cover of Everything Asian

What is my book about?

You're twelve years old. A month has passed since your Korean Air flight landed at lovely Newark Airport. Your fifteen-year-old sister is miserable. Your mother isn't exactly happy, either. You're seeing your father for the first time in five years, and although he's nice enough, he might be, well – how can you put this delicately? – a loser. You can't speak English, but that doesn't stop you from working at East Meets West, your father's gift shop in a strip mall, where everything is new.

Welcome to the wonderful world of David Kim.

Sprig Muslin

By Georgette Heyer,

Book cover of Sprig Muslin

I'd list every one of Georgette Heyer's romance novels if I could. She's the master of creating plots so entangled you have no idea how they'll be pulled apart. Her characters are unique, if not exactly crazy, and love is always in the air. Heyer's world is Regency England as it never really was.

Who am I?

I teach writing and children's literature at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and for many years worked as a librarian. (Once a librarian, always a librarian!) First and foremost, I'm a reader. The real world can be an unpleasant and depressing place, so I regularly escape inside books. Although serious books are great, it's also nice to escape to a world where you can laugh and not worry about anything too bad happening.

I wrote...

Wilde Wagers

By Elizabeth Caulfield Felt,

Book cover of Wilde Wagers

What is my book about?

Oscar Wilde bets that actress Olivia Snow can fool a group of country bumpkins into believing she is Genevieve Lamb, the wealthy beauty of the recent Season. The weekend will prove a challenge for the old-fashioned actress and Genevieve’s handsome and old-fashioned brother, Philip, because the manor is filled with ridiculous and eccentric characters, as well as one murderous criminal. While Olivia pretends to be Genevieve, Genevieve wagers on her own performance–as Olivia Snow. She and Oscar Wilde go out on the town, a decision that will have both wishing they’d stayed at home. These two charades take unexpected turns during a wild weekend of kidnapping, cucumber sandwiches, bee stings, and love. This Oscar Wilde-esque romantic comedy mystery will keep you guessing–and craving teacake.

The Vanished Bride

By Bella Ellis,

Book cover of The Vanished Bride

Talk about feisty women who advance against tremendous odds! Despite the stultifyingly constrained life of “almost-poor” women in early Victorian England, out in the moor country, the three Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) slip around the rules, their father, and manage their wayward but beloved brother—all while being determined to become writers—and solve the occasional murder that happens in their neighborhood. Great period details and fascinating information about these three remarkable sisters, along with a great mystery read. This is the first book in the series.

Who am I?

My mother was an avid reader of Agatha Christie, and she gave me my first Nancy Drew book when I was nine, so I’ve loved mysteries all my life—not the ‘true crime’ kind, more the ‘cozy village’ kind, where the focus is on the characters and how they solve the mystery because of who they are and how they understand the people around them. After I wrote an historical novel about John Singer Sargent and his friends, I couldn’t stop thinking about them, even hearing their voices continuing to talk—I missed them! So naturally, I decided I’d turn John and his friend Violet into detectives and write mysteries. 

I wrote...

The Spoils of Avalon

By Mary F. Burns,

Book cover of The Spoils of Avalon

What is my book about?

The death of a humble clergyman in 1877 leads amateur sleuths Violet Paget and John Singer Sargent into a medieval world of saints and kings as they follow a trail of relics lost since the destruction of Glastonbury Abbey in 1539. Written in alternating chapters between the two eras, The Spoils of Avalon is a magical mystery that bridges the gap between two widely different worlds—the industrialized, Darwinian Victorian Age and the agricultural, faith-infused life of a medieval abbey on the brink of violent change at the hand of Henry VIII. 

First in a series featuring two life-long friends as a different kind of detecting team: the brilliant and brittle Violet Paget (aka Vernon Lee), and the talented, genial portrait painter John Singer Sargent. 

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