Finished Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. I'm a dope. I put off reading this book for YEARS because it looked and sounded boring. It was wonderful. Once again I was pleasantly surprised by Bronte's sense of humor. The story was suspenseful as well. It takes a local look at the Luddite movement and some early feminism.
The title character, Shirley, does not appear until the novel is well on it's way. She is rich, beautiful, intelligent, lively, arch, bossy, generous, mischievous and delightful, but I didn't consider her the heroine. Caroline Helstone, introduced early on, was the heroine to me. Caroline is gentle, mild, loving, compassionate, eager for knowledge and quite beautiful in her own right. The two young women become the best of friends and it appears that they are both in love with the same man.
The story featured a lovely tie-in with Bronte's sister Anne's novel Agnes Grey, but what that is you'll have to find out for yourself.