Brontë’s Mistress

Finola Austin. Atria, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982137-23-6
Austin imagines in her languid debut the affair alleged to have occurred in the 1840s between tutor Branwell Brontë, brother of the famous English authors, and Lydia Robinson, the wife of his employer. Lydia, the 43-year-old mistress of Thorp Green Hall in Yorkshire, is grieving the recent deaths of her mother and her youngest daughter, Georgiana, while her husband, Edmund, pays little attention to her. Branwell, 25, an alcoholic with artistic ambitions hired to teach the Robinsons’ only son, soon sparks Lydia’s lust. Lydia takes risks by showing up at Branwell’s lodgings after a fight with her husband, inviting him to take tea and read Shakespeare to her, and allowing him to cut a lock of her hair. As this relationship intensifies, Lydia also manages her three daughters’ marriage prospects. After Lydia and Branwell consummate their relationship, Lydia worries whether a fulfilling sex life is worth committing adultery with someone who doesn’t share her social station. When her husband becomes seriously ill, she reconsiders the affair. While Austin paints a vivid picture of upper-class life and sprinkles in tantalizing tidbits about the Brontë sisters, her characters are not as finely drawn as others in the wide field of Brontë apocrypha. Still, this brooding romance will suffice for voracious readers of Victorian fiction. Agent: Danielle Egan-Miller, Browne & Miller Literary Associates. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/22/2020
Release date: 08/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-0687-8
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