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Monday 17 June 2013

‘The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Brontë by Laura Joh Rowland

Published by The Overlook Press,
10th January 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-590290-154-1

Just as Jane Eyre combined naturalism with Gothic melodrama so this book combines a setting in the Victorian era with a thrilling story. It is a thriller based on the solid foundation of knowledge of conditions in Victorian England and knowledge of Charlottes own life. The story becomes fantastical and emotionally powerful in the style of the Bronte sisters own writings.

In 1848 Charlotte Bronte is forced to visit her London publisher, accompanied by her sister Anne. On the train journey from Yorkshire they meet a young lady and, in London, Charlotte witnesses a murder; these events combine to produce a spine chilling series of adventures involving the whole Bronte family. 1848 is, of course, a year of Revolutions in much of Europe and the intrigue into which Charlotte is drawn has ramifications outside Britain. The machinations of a master criminal endanger Charlotte herself, her family and her country.

The climax of the story comes at sea - a setting which seems peculiarly suited to the British Empire with its basis in sea power. Charlotte also makes clear to us the deep roots that her writing has in Yorkshire. The dramatic character of the story encompasses other well known Victorians in the toils of the web of intrigue woven by the villain.

The style that Laura Joh Rowland uses certainly has undertones of the Bronte novels and fit
s the subject matter well.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Laura Joh Rowland has penned a second volume of Charlottes adventures entitled Bedlam: the Further Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte. She is also the author of a series of ten mysteries about a 17th century Japanese, Sano Ichiro, who is the Most Honourable Investigator to the Shogun.

Laura Joh Rowland went to the University of Michigan, where she earned a B.S. in microbiology and a master's in public health. She worked as a chemist on an EPA research project on pollution in Lake Huron. She was a microbiologist for a company that manufactured media for growing bacteria. In 1981 she and her  husband moved to New Orleans, where she became a sanitary inspector for the city (issuing citations to people who had junk cars and trash in their yards). Then she got a job as a quality engineer with Lockheed Martin at the NASA facility where the fuel tank for the Space Shuttle is built.  She liked to illustrate children's books. So she enrolled in a class to learn how to write one that I could illustrate, and discovered that she liked writing better than illustration.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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