Saturday, August 8, 2020



  • Title: Brontë’s Mistress: A Novel  
  • Author: Finola Austin
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Publisher: Atria Books (August 04, 2020)
  • Length: (320) pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1982137236
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1982137250
  • Audiobook ISBN: 9781797106878
  • Tour Dates: August 3 – August 16, 2020


Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson—mistress of Thorp Green Hall—has lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more.

All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ elaborate play-acting and made-up worlds form the backdrop for seduction.

But Lydia’s new taste of passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic and dangerous, and whispers of their passionate relationship spout from her servants’ lips, reaching all three protective Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Lydia to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late.

Meticulously researched and deliciously told, Brontë’s Mistress is a captivating reimagining of the scandalous affair that has divided Brontë enthusiasts for generations and an illuminating portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact.


This will come down as one of my favorite historical fiction novels that I have read this year - to be honest probably ever. I gave this amazing historical novel all the stars it deserved and more. I enjoyed every page of this book and I just could not devour this fast enough, only to reread it again and again. 

Bronte's Mistress is a debut novel by Fiona Austin that is flawlessly written and meticulously researched historical fiction about the alleged affair between Branwell Bronte - the lesser known Bronte, and his employer's wife, Lydia Robinson. Branwell was employed by the Robinsons as a tutor to their young son Ned, and came highly recommended by Anne Bronte, the governess for the Robinsons' daughters, Lydia, Bessy and Mary. 

What I find amazing about the story is the gender role reversal where in this time period of early 1840's, portrays the woman as the temptress and the man the victim. This affair between Lydia, who was forty-three and Branwell twenty-five was known to have brought the Bronte family down to its demise with premature deaths for all the Bronte siblings. 

Lydia is a strong woman who has suffered significant loss. First though the death of their youngest daughter Georgina, and most recently her mother who has succumbed to illness, and a lifeless and dispassionate marriage to an older husband. Lydia is a complex character and certainly a woman ahead of her time full of passion and restless discontent. 

Austin beautifully delivered through the use of language and dialogue, a novel that transported me right in the middle of the Victorian countryside into the lives of the Robinsons and the Brontë's that I never want to leave. In true style, the story touched on the themes of women's struggles of being trapped, lacking choices and with passion just bubbling beneath the surface. I enjoyed reading Lydia's story and reading her story in her point of view was a wonderful perspective - her thoughts and feminist point of view was refreshing. 

This was a story that needed to be told, and I am glad Finola Austin took this to task, and delivered with nothing short than utmost reverence to this story. 

In the end, I was compelled to reread again not wanting to leave the characters Austin dazzingly portrayed in these pages. I highly recommend this book.



·       “…a page-turning read full of passion and fire…[Austin] dares to give us a main character as flawed as Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlett O’Hara—a real, hot-blooded woman who has desires and passions and isn’t afraid to act on them.” —Syrie James, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte


·       Brontë's Mistress gives voice to a woman who, until now, has been voiceless; and, indeed, to thousands of women whose lives, like Lydia's, were so terribly suffocating.” —Molly Greeley, author of The Clergyman's Wife


·       “Confident, convincing and engrossing, and with a sure historical touch, it illuminates another dark corner in the Brontës' story.” —Gill Hornby, author of Miss Austen


·       "Rich in heart and detail, Finola Austin’s novel Brontë’s Mistress is a beautifully created tour-de-force." —Sarah Shoemaker, author of Mr. Rochester


·       “This is not a book about a nineteenth-century affair - it is about using physical passion and experience to get at the very sense of self that society wanted women of the time to repress and even deny. It is a daring, troubling, and sophisticated first novel, and it heralds a most intriguing new voice in historical fiction.” —Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society



Finola Austin, also known as the Secret Victorianist on her award-winning blog, is an England-born, Northern Ireland-raised, Brooklyn-based historical novelist and lover of the 19th century. By day, she works in digital advertising. Find her online at Brontë’s Mistress is her debut novel.





Join the virtual online blog tour of BRONTË’S MISTRESS, Finola Austin’s highly acclaimed debut novel August 3 through August 16, 2020. Twenty-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, and women’s fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, excerpts, and reviews of this early Victorian novel set in Yorkshire, England.



Aug 03          Bronteblog (Guest Blog)                      

Aug 03          The Reading Frenzy (Interview)                      

Aug 03          Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)                               

Aug 04          Lu's Reviews (Review)                         

Aug 04          The Best Historical Fiction (Review)                       

Aug 05          The Write Review (Review)                            

Aug 05          English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)                               

Aug 06          Historical Fiction Reader (Review)                          

Aug 06          Captivated Reading         (Review)                          

Aug 07          Reading the Past (Review)                             

Aug 07          Diary of an Eccentric (Excerpt)                      

Aug 08          Book Nursie (Review)                          

Aug 09          Girl with her Head in a Book (Excerpt)                    

Aug 10          Frolic Media (Interview)                        

Aug 10          Historical Fiction with Spirit (Review)                     

Aug 10          Bronteblog (Review)                            

Aug 11          Chicks, Rogues and Scandals (Review)                             

Aug 11          A Bookish Way of Life (Review)                    

Aug 12          Laura's Reviews (Review)                              

Aug 12          Historical Fiction Reader (Interview)                        

Aug 13          The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)                         

Aug 14          Silver Petticoat Reviews (Guest Blog)                     

Aug 14          The Reading Frenzy (Review)                        

Aug 15          The Write Review (Live Facebook Interview)                       

Aug 16          Probably at the Library (Review)                             









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