Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books to read if you love the Brontës

This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) is “Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc)”.

I have chosen to list ten books with connections to the Brontë family – a mixture of non-fiction, historical fiction, classics and retellings! These are all books that I have read and reviewed on my blog.

1. The Taste of Sorrow by Jude Morgan – My favourite of the ten books listed here, this is a beautifully written fictional biography of Charlotte, Emily and Anne with strong characterisation bringing all three sisters to life.

2. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – This is probably one of the best-known Brontë-inspired novels, giving a voice to Mr Rochester’s wife Bertha, and has become a modern classic in its own right.

3. Sanctuary by Robert Edric – A fictional account of the life of Branwell Brontë, a young man who starts out with so much potential only to find himself living in the shadow of his sisters.

4. Ill Will by Michael Stewart – In the middle of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff disappears for three years. This novel imagines what may have happened to him during that time. An interesting idea, but the anachronistic language ruined this book for me!

5. The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell – A contemporary novel about a young American woman who is the last living descendant of the Brontë family and finds herself searching for the lost Brontë literary estate.

6. Dark Quartet by Lynne Reid Banks – Another fictional biography of Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell, published in the 1970s. There’s a sequel covering the final years of Charlotte’s life, but I haven’t read that one yet.

7. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – Part historical crime/part Jane Eyre retelling, this is the story of Jane Steele, a murderer whose life seems to mirror that of the heroine of her favourite Brontë novel. I loved all the Jane Eyre parallels, but found the crime aspect less successful.

8. Nelly Dean by Alison Case – A retelling of Wuthering Heights with a focus on the life of the housekeeper Nelly Dean. I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped; I liked Nelly, but her story wasn’t as interesting as Cathy and Heathcliff’s – which is why Emily Brontë wrote that book and not this one!

9. The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë by Daphne du Maurier – Another book about Branwell Brontë, but a non-fiction one this time – and written by another of my favourite authors! Several of du Maurier’s novels also show a strong Brontë influence.

10. Mr Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker – This version of Jane Eyre is written from the perspective of Mr Rochester. I enjoyed the earlier sections of the novel that imagine Rochester’s childhood and time in Jamaica, but the final part – retelling the familiar events of Jane Eyre – didn’t work as well.


What do you think? Have you read any of these? What other books have you read that are about or inspired by the Brontës?

34 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books to read if you love the Brontës

  1. CLM (@ConMartin) says:

    I’ve only read Wide Sargasso Sea but I own the Banks book and intend to read it. Several others I liked:

    The Return of the Twelves by Pauline Clarke – about the Brontes’ soldiers
    The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey – sort of a retelling of Jane Eyre
    Jane by April Lindner – a YA retelling
    Peter’s Room by Antonia Forest – the Marlows and their friend Patrick start Gondaling

  2. jessicabookworm says:

    Great idea for a list, Helen! Of those listed, I have read Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Steele – The first I thought was very powerful, although ‘enjoyed’ might be the wrong for word it, and I loved the setting and character of Jane Steele. 😃 I don’t think I have read any others, however this has reminded me I have a long-forgotten copy of The Mist on Brontë Moor on my Kindle! 😅

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