Reviews

Reviews Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love – Original title in Dutch ‘De Meester’

UK reviews:

‘Charlotte Bronte is among the iconic names of English literature and in this wonderful novel Jolien Janzing gives readers a fascinating fictionalised glimpse into the life of the woman behind Jane Eyre.’ We Love This Book – The Bookseller

Review We Love this Book – The Bookseller

‘Imagination and knowledge are harnessed with impeccable precision to weave an extraordinarily insightful and credible story packed with wisdom and empathy, and offering a dazzling portrait of two geniuses in the making.’

Review Lancashire Guardian/Evening Post

Dutch and Belgian reviews:

‘A successful biographical novel, evocatively written […] impressive and contemporary.’ Trouw (Letter en geest) review Trouw – Letter en Geest

‘Even if you already know the story, you’ll continue to read with enthusiasm. Janzing’s ornate style fits this classical tale like a glove. She describes heat as ‘the breath of a fire god’ and Emily’s profile as ‘a pallid crescent moon’.’ De Standaard der Letteren 

‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a film of it in the not too distant future.’Mieke’s Leesclub

‘In an ornate tone, appropriate to the historical genre, Janzing creates a world in which you want to linger, long after you’ve finished reading the book.’ Happinez

‘Elegant, traditional language […]. The Master is bound to appeal to those who enjoy a well-written historical novel’. Lucas Zandberg, TZUM

‘A compelling historical novel […]. The Master is written in a pleasantly accessible and vigorous style.’ Editie Enigma

‘What a marvellous novel […]. The Master is written in such a filmic manner that it immediately draws the reader back into the nineteenth century.’ Margriet

‘Jolien Janzing’s elegantly penned The Master takes us back to 19th century Brussels, to a story of forbidden love. She clearly knows her subject like the back of her hand: she portrays Charlotte Brontë’s first steps on the path to love with genuine affection, and never goes too far. The relationship between Charlotte Brontë and Constantin Heger was already the focus of many a question one and a half centuries ago. Was it platonic or physical? Janzing fills the gaps in a plausible and respectful manner. For Brontë fans, The Master is a must; for those who know little of the English writer, it is a magnificent historical novel with a warm pounding heart.’ Karin Quint, journalist NRC Handelsblad

The Master carries the reader back to a time that isn’t our own, which is an experience in itself. It does so in a filmic manner – and it doesn’t surprise me that the book was selected for the Berlinale. It reminds me of Palliser’s The Quincunx, another equally compelling novel.’ Ludo Permentier, columnist and journalist for De Standaard

Wednesday August 28 2013 17:09

Beloved Brussels (Flanders Today)

Dutch journalist Jolien Janzing, who lives in Flanders, has followed up her debut novel Grammatica van een Obsessie (Grammar of an Obsession) with the historical novel Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love (previously The Master), in which she shines a light on a tantalising episode in the lives of two great 19th-century authors, Charlotte and Emily Brontë.

“I’ve always been interested in 19th-century English literature such as Dickens, Austen and the Brontës,” Janzing explains. “After finishing my first novel, I decided that I’d love to write a historical novel, which is when I stumbled upon this chapter in Charlotte Brontë’s life that isn’t widely known: namely, that she stayed in Brussels for quite some time. With a historical novel I could also combine my love for fiction with my journalistic background. Writing a biography would have been too dry; I love being able to tell a good story.”

Charlotte Brontë became famous for her novel Jane Eyre, published in 1847. Prior to this she was just a girl trying to escape rural domesticity by becoming a teacher, a profession that led her and her sister Emily, who would later write Wuthering Heights, to Brussels in 1842. Here they learned French at the Pensionnat Héger, close to the site of Bozar today; it was where Charlotte met Constantin Héger, the headmistress’ husband and a man who would change the course of her life significantly.

“If you read between the lines of the letters she wrote to Héger,” Janzing says, “you immediately sense there was more to them than meets the eye. There was a little interpretation necessary because she couldn’t be as open about her feelings as she wanted to be, since Madame Héger might intercept them. But there is a lot of passion in them.” Madly in love with a married man, Charlotte would later use him as inspiration for The ProfessorVillette and Jane Eyre.

Fascinated by the life and times of Charlotte Brontë, Janzing, who previously wrote for Humo and De Morgen, decided to bring this chapter to life by writing not just another biography but a novel in which she is able to give us a fictionalised picture of what these literary sisters might have been thinking and experiencing at that crucial point in their lives.

“I chose to rewrite Charlotte’s letters to Héger to give a more accurate depiction of my Charlotte – my interpretation of her, that is. I felt like I understood her and her journey. I’m Dutch, but I moved to Flanders when I was little. I was raised a Protestant and was confronted with Catholicism here, so I understood the culture shock she must have felt when she came here. As a fellow novelist, I share her love for language. And we all know what heartache is.” Janzing gives us a wonderful look inside the mind of Charlotte, paralleled only by her portrait of a vibrant and bustling 19th-Century Brussels. “I worked as a journalist for some time before transitioning to fiction so I was familiar with the research involved with creating such an elaborate story. The novel took me three years to write because it had to be accurate. I read everything about Brussels during that period. I also had a large map of the city circa 1835 next to me at all times and help from several people to bring the city to life.”

Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love is a chronological depiction of their adventures, from the moment they leave home to the moment Charlotte’s life took an unexpected turn. Janzing has created a vivid canvas on which she elaborates not only on the Brontës’ experiences but also the budding romance between Leopold I and his mistress Arcadie Claret, which she alternates with the main story as was the custom in many 19th-century novels. So was addressing the reader directly through an omniscient narrator, also the case here.

Janzing’s novel has a large international appeal and not just because of its subject matter. Charlotte Brontë’s Secret Love (De Meester) was the only Dutch-language novel selected for Books at Berlinale at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, an initiative to bring publishing and the film industry closer together. Books of all genres and languages were presented to international producers for a chance at a potential big-screen adaptation. An English translation is in the pipeline, and the BBC is interested in optioning the story.

De Meester is a colourful and atmospheric depiction of an independent, passionate but above all courageous woman who followed her heart, which paved the way for her future. Eloquently written, full of visual flair and depth, Janzing’s book engulfs us in an essential yet not commonly known chapter in Charlotte Brontë’s life that would change her and literary history forever. “For Charlotte, it was a very important episode, as it moulded her as a writer. I don’t think Jane Eyre would have been written if she’d never met Mr Héger.”

BrontëBlog

Sunday, January 27, 2013 The Master at the Berlinale – Brontë Blog – Brontë Society

Jolien Janzing’s Brontës-in-Brussels novel De Meester – De geheime liefde van Charlotte Brontë in het 19de-eeuwse Brussel will be published in the Netherlands next May 2, 2003. But it seems that the novel has already attracted enough attention to be one of the ten chosen ones to be presented at the Books at Berlinale 2013:

Books at Berlinale” intends to bring the publishing and film worlds closer together.

At the “Books at Berlinale” breakfast on the third day of the Berlinale Co-Production Market, organised in cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair, around ten selected novels are presented to an audience of around 120 internationally established producers in a pitching event. The selected projects are also published in the “Books at Berlinale” catalogue handed out to all attending producers.

The book presentation is moderated and the respective rights holders (publishers/literary agents) are introduced to the audience. The presentation is followed by a casual breakfast during which contacts to interested producers can be established. Each publisher/agent has their own table and can be approached directly by the producers.

The selected books are usually new releases, partly yet to be published, which guarantee the producers a very exclusive opportunity to secure film rights.

– The Master (Jolien Janzing), De Arbeiderspers, The Netherlands

King’s Road Magazine – Italy – ADMINON GENNAIO – 23 – 2013

 

Film producers who are looking for exciting literary material for the screen should be in their element at “Books at Berlinale” on February 12, 2013. Ten novels that might make good movies will be presented at this year’s “Books at Berlinale” within the scope of the Berlinale Co-Production Market. At the breakfast following the pitch, interested producers will have the opportunity to speak with the international publishers and literary agents, or even to option film rights directly.

More than 80 books from over 20 countries were submitted to “Books at Berlinale” 2013. Works from Sweden,Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy made it into this year’s selection.

The novels selected include a number of current bestsellers and prize-winners; many of the others are new works that are to be released over the course of the year. Their stories revolve around shady double agents, former rocks stars or even, for instance, Charlotte Brontë. The spectrum of genres encompasses thrillers and family dramas, as well as historical epics and road movies. With Carolin Walch’s “Roxanne & George”, a graphic novel will be presented at “Books at Berlinale” for the first time.

“Meanwhile the event has fans on both sides, that is, among book publishers and film producers – for here they can make and cultivate valuable and exclusive contacts each year, as well as meet one another in the informal atmosphere of the Berlinale Co-Production Market, says Festival Director Dieter Kosslick. “We are very pleased that ‘Books at Berlinale’ has become a real networking highlight between the book and film industries.”

Organised since 2006 by the Berlinale in cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair, “Books at Berlinale” was and is the first market for literary material at an international A-film festival.

The event will take place in the Berlin House of Representatives within the scope of the Berlinale Co-Production Market. Its main partners are MDM Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and the MEDIA Programme of the European Union. The Berlinale Co-Production Market is part of theEuropean Film Market (EFM).

The following literary works have been selected for “Books at Berlinale” 2013:

(in alphabetical order by the companies presenting them)

– The Thread (Victoria Hislop), Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, United Kingdom

– The Master (Jolien Janzing), De Arbeiderspers, Netherlands

– I Called Him Tie (Milena Michiko Flašar), Kiepenheuer Medien, Germany

– All Russians Love Birch Trees (Olga Grjasnowa), Literarische Agentur Simon, Germany

– Higher Than the Sea (Francesca Melandri), Marco Vigevani Agenzia Letteraria, Italy

– West of Liberty (Thomas Engström), Nordin Agency, Sweden

– The Free World (David Bezmozgis), Place des Éditeurs, France

– Roxanne & George (Carolin Walch), Reprodukt, Germany

– Safe House (Chris Ewan), Sheil Land Associates, United Kingdom

– Centrifugal Forces (Stephan Thome), Suhrkamp Verlag, Germany

Belgian and Dutch reviews:

‘A successful biographical novel, evocatively written […] impressive and contemporary.’ Trouw (Letter en geest)

‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a film of it in the not too distant future.’Mieke’s Leesclub

‘In an ornate tone, appropriate to the historical genre, Janzing creates a world in which you want to linger, long after you’ve finished reading the book.’ Happinez

‘Elegant, traditional language […]. The Master is bound to appeal to those who enjoy a well-written historical novel’. Lucas Zandberg, TZUM

‘Even if you already know the story, you’ll continue to read with enthusiasm. Janzing’s ornate style fits this classical tale like a glove. She describes heat as ‘the breath of a fire god’ and Emily’s profile as ‘a pallid crescent moon’.’ De Standaard der Letteren 

‘A compelling historical novel […]. The Master is written in a pleasantly accessible and vigorous style.’ Editie Enigma

‘What a marvellous novel […]. The Master is written in such a filmic manner that it immediately draws the reader back into the nineteenth century.’ Margriet

‘Jolien Janzing’s elegantly penned The Master takes us back to 19th century Brussels, to a story of forbidden love. She clearly knows her subject like the back of her hand: she portrays Charlotte Brontë’s first steps on the path to love with genuine affection, and never goes too far. The relationship between Charlotte Brontë and Constantin Heger was already the focus of many a question one and a half centuries ago. Was it platonic or physical? Janzing fills the gaps in a plausible and respectful manner. For Brontë fans, The Master is a must; for those who know little of the English writer, it is a magnificent historical novel with a warm pounding heart.’ Karin Quint, journalist NRC Handelsblad

The Master carries the reader back to a time that isn’t our own, which is an experience in itself. It does so in a filmic manner – and it doesn’t surprise me that the book was selected for the Berlinale. It reminds me of Palliser’s The Quincunx, another equally compelling novel.’ Ludo Permentier, columnist and journalist for De Standaard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s