“[A] meticulously researched debut novel…In a word? Juicy.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
The scandalous historical love affair between Lydia Robinson and Branwell Brontë, brother to novelists Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, gives voice to the woman who allegedly brought down one of literature’s most famous families.
Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson has tragically 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’ imaginative worlds form the backdrop for seduction.
But their new passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic, and whispers of their romantic relationship spout from Lydia’s servants’ lips, reaching all three Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Mrs. Robinson 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.