Bronte's Mistress


Product Details

Atria Books
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 1.1 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

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


"A mysterious manuscript, a passionless marriage, a dazzling but dissolute tutor--Finola Austin's richly imagined historical novel tells the tale of Lydia Robinson, of Thorp Green Hall, and Branwell, the beloved brother of the brilliant Bronte sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Wonderfully engaging and clever, Bronte's Mistress captures the tragic claustrophobia of women's limited lives in nineteenth century England." --ANDREA CHAPIN, author of The Tutor
"Dark and moody, Brontë's Mistress unearths the secret love affair of Lydia Robinson and Branwell Brontë in all its shocking scandalousness. Anchored by meticulous research, Finola Austin has created a heart-tugging portrait of a passionate woman more akin to Emma Bovary than Jane Eyre, but equally trapped by the constraints of her era. Bittersweet and beautifully written." --KRIS WALDHERR, author of The Lost History of Dreams and Doomed Queens
"At the heart of Finola Austin's Brontë's Mistress isn't that literary family, of whom readers to this day entertain a cult-like fascination, but Mrs. Lydia Robinson, a protagonist as passionate as she is multifaceted and complex. Romance, sex, love in its many variations, enough grief and drama to rival a Greek play--it's all here. The result is a delicious and truly escapist read, which resonates with this lesson from Austin: Women are the true and unsung survivors of history." --KATHERINE J. CHEN, author of Mary B
"Bronte's Mistress is a beautifully written, highly seductive debut in which Finola Austin delves into the life of a relatively unknown member of the Brontë family. The chemistry between Branwell and Lydia positively crackles on the page, and while Lydia emerges as a delicious heroine in her own right, the better-known Brontë sisters are portrayed with wit and care. Masterful storytelling which is sure to delight fans of the Brontës and of historical fiction. Brontë's Mistress comes highly recommended by this Yorkshire lass." --HAZEL GAYNOR, New York Times bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
"Brontë's Mistress gives us a fascinating new perspective on one of literature's most famous families. Smart and sexy, this captivating novel is true to the romantic spirit of the Brontës themselves, with a modern feminist twist. A delicious treat for Brontë fans!" --ELIZABETH BLACKWELL, author of Red Mistress and On A Cold Dark Sea
"Lydia Robinson, the married woman with whom Branwell Brontë allegedly had an affair, tells her own side of the story in Finola Austin's beautifully written and meticulously researched novel, Brontë's Mistress. Austin's Lydia--unhappily married, affection-starved, and unfulfilled--is exquisitely nuanced. I felt deeply for her, even as I was frustrated by some of her choices. The affair with Branwell is merely one facet in a finely-cut gem of a larger story. Austin's great strength is that she is able to write so that both Lydia's own strengths and weaknesses seamlessly coexist, creating a thoroughly, beautifully, complicatedly human character. 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
"A richly atmospheric, compelling portrait of a woman torn between expectation and the wish for more. Brontë's Mistress stayed with me long after I put it down." --MEGAN CHANCE, author of A Drop of Ink
"Finola Austin's debut novel is a stunner. Anyone who has ever thrilled to a Brontë novel needs to read this glorious historical novel about the Brontë sisters and their brother, Branwell, and his affair with the outrageous, scandalous woman who broke all conventions. Atmospheric and beautifully imagined, this is a must-read for lovers of great historical fiction."--JEANNE MACKIN, author of The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel
"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
"Finola Austin's riveting debut novel presents a deftly rendered, complex heroine swept up in the allure of forbidden passion--and the heartrending consequences when the romantic illusion shatters. Beautifully detailed and richly atmospheric, Brontë's Mistress portrays one of literature's most famous families from an intriguing new perspective." --JENNIFER CHIAVERINI, New York Times bestselling author of Resistance Women
"Rich in heart and detail, Finola Austin's novel Bronte's Mistress is a beautifully created tour-de-force. This tightly-woven novel could reflect the life any number of middle- and upper-class Victorian women bound by English society's rules, but it happens to concern the woman whose extra-marital affair with Charlotte Bronte's brother, Branwell Bronte, rocked not only their own lives but the closely-knit society in which they lived. Using a plethora of research sources, Austin has written a beautifully-created novel whose every character (save for a horse!) is based on the actual historical persons involved in the events." --SARAH SHOEMAKER, author of Mr. Rochester