Shirley by Charlotte Bronte: A Book Review

What an arrogant novel with unlikeable characters. I tried to like this novel, I did.  I didn’t like this novel. (Obviously).

This book surprised me. I LOVE Jane Eyre, and was expecting a similar work of genius and insightful entertainment in this novel. Sadly, I recommended reading this book to my Husband for our Two Person Book Club. I was so sure of her talent that I pushed for it and it was my Husband’s first Bronte novel. I regret this deeply.

Shirley was the only entertaining and likeable character in this book. Even Shirley couldn’t hold my love though and by the end of the book I could not care less what was going to happen for her, as even her character started to grate on my nerves.

Shirley felt like a book from an author who was arrogant in her abilities and also an author who felt too much pressure to follow up her masterpiece and thus was trying too hard. Every page held a soliloquy! 

A soliloquy is hard to read when it interrupts the action and when you could give a hoot what the pbook cover shirleyerson is thinking.

There were some feminist elements that I enjoyed. I also really liked a few of her landscape descriptions. They were beautifully written but most of them went on to long. Again, it felt like an author trying too hard and I felt it was her unnecessary attempt to prove her writing strength.

 The characters were very annoying (from whiny to grating none of them felt like the champion of this book and I was rooting for none of them), the language felt pedantic and ponderous, and the storyline looked around aimlessly for a social cause to champion. I didn’t feel as if Bronte had experienced any of the social struggles firsthand, or knowledge of the lower classes lifestyles. The entire time I was reading I felt like an outsider looking in- and looking down- on the characters. I believe this is part of the reason that I couldn’t connect to any of the characters and generate any real feeling of sympathy for them.

It took me months to read this book because I could only stand to read 3 pages at a time before I got sick of the characters and would throw it down in disgust.

All in all this book was a huge fail for me and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.


Two stars out of five and I am being generous.



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