Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay

I enjoyed reading this novel. It will be particularly attractive to fans of Jane Austen and her contemporaries.

This story centers around Lucy Alling. She works for Sid in his Chicago antique and design store. She specializes in books. She's been adding false inscriptions to the books, increasing their value. But when the fellow she's been dating uncovers what she's done, her world goes into turmoil. To make life even more uncomfortable, her now ex-boyfriend's grandmother, Helen, asks Lucy to go with her on an antique buying trip to England. Lucy's estranged father is in England and the trip has the potential to change Lucy's life.

This novel really explores what we might call minor moral faults people exhibit. Lucy's father told stories and was so good at it he could swindle people. Has that character trait been passed down to Lucy, even though he left their family when she was only eight? I liked the parallel character development of Lucy and Helen. Both had made mistakes in the past and needed to make them right. Their stories may give readers reason to pause and think about their own truthfulness, especially “little white lies.”

I enjoyed the characters in the novel. Reay has done a good job of creating people with personality traits that are clear. There were no flat characters – everyone of them had a distinct personality. Merely using dialog, for example, Reay was able to convey the self centered personality of Lucy's father.

I've only read a couple of novels from the Austen era and it seems to me Reay's writing style and pace of action follows the style of that era. Some may find the action a little slow but I think the narrative has been purposely designed that way. I felt the combination of romance and personal growth made for good reading.

Those who love Austen or the Brontes will find many references and allusions to their work. Not a fan myself, much of it was lost to me. Nonetheless, I did enjoy reading about the travel to author sites in England. And I enjoyed the ultimate theme of making right the wrongs that had been done.

While this is not a “Christian” novel, it is written from a Christian viewpoint. There is definite right and wrong and repentance. The theme of restoration after forgiveness is strong. We are also reminded that we are not our parents or grandparents. The sins of the father do not have to be repeated by their sons and daughters. There is a good discussion guide that helps highlights some of these issues.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a lifelong affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked in not-for-profit development before returning to school to pursue her MTS. She and her husband and their three children live in Chicago. You can find out more at www.katherinereay.com.

Thomas Nelson, 342 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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