Hallo, Hallo dear hearts,
When it comes to ‘Jane Eyre’ – one could say I’ve had a unique connection to both the original novel & the  adaptation; being that the version of the story I knew best all of these years was the film adaptation rather than the novel! I started reading the novel in  as there was a readathon which was really quite cleverly assembled whilst I also found the Books of Eyre reading challenge shortly thereafter. The only trouble of course, is the fact I was pulled in and out of the context of the story multiple times – the most of what I shared ended being the first half of my readings of Eyre.
My main takeaways were the following from that initial reading of JANE EYRE:
In walked Jane Eyre, as calm as a willow bending in the wind,…
or should I say, that attribution belongs to another, a Ms. (Helen) Burns, of whom, Ms. Eyre draws a readily acquaintance and confidence as she’s removed from Gateshead and placed into custody of Lowood Institution for Oprhans! No, pray give leave, to express that Ms. Eyre is a firecracker of unrequited internal rage and admonition for her plight as thus handed down to her in life, as her parents are long since dead; her last surviving relation put to rest in the grave prematurely, and she is left to the dealings of her Aunt, [Sarah Reed, of the late Uncle Reed, her direct relation] of whom, is presented rather apt to reflect Angelica Houston’s character in “Ever After”, as she presides such blatant disregard for her niece, Eyre! It’s only in the reflections of Jane, as an older self, that we find a disconnect between the younger Eyre’s presumption of what was occurring and the wiser Eyre’s imparted understanding, that not all was as first known when the story starts to unfold!
The edgings of the story are wantonly haunting, as the world around Ms. Eyre is draped in grey tones, rain sodden exteriors, and the atmosphere of Gothic underpinnings, as there is rumours of a potential haunting of her Uncle, whilst alive was tender and kind towards Jane, but in whose death, wrecked a miserable state of affairs to unfold and befell her! I was quite appalled at her nephew’s extensive violence towards her, [in this regard, young Harry Potter lived comparatively comfortably!] and her Aunt’s diffidence not to correct the improper and unkind behaviour! Such grievances I can only try to attempt to tolerate, as I know the resolution of the story in-full, but that does not make it any easier to read or rather, observe her humble and caustic beginnings! If anything, it sets up in my mind how far Ms. Eyre had to transmorph into the resolute and strong adult she became!
As Brontë, deftly brings to life the under kernels of Eyre’s hardening and the porticoes of her knowledge that if she were to embark down certain pathways, she might not soon return! Much less, would she want to be such a creature!? To walk through this world, fully hardened and affaced to all the goodness that surely must still be present!? I can sympathise with her on this level, as when your day-to-day existence is presented in a continuous imprisonment of harsh punishment [solitary confined to the nursery, never allowed outside or downstairs, always finding reprimand rather than nurturing, and an absence of time being measured by usual perimeters!], I can understand her reasonings and her deepest of questions regarding not only the state of her personal affairs, but her state and place in the world itself! How angst ridden we should all feel, to have no Hope, no Light, and no perceivable exodus of our allotted circumstance!?
What staid with me throughout the entirety of the opening chapters, is the elucidation of Ms. Brontë, who thus effused her fictional work with counterparts of reality at each turn! She mastered the ability to absolve and absorb what weighed heavily on her heart, pouring out her grief and emotional keenings into the breath she gave Jane Eyre! She took the tragedies of her own life [her elder siblings died as a result of a school similar to Lowood!] and gave them a proper tomb to cleanse herself of feelings she most likely could not dissipate otherwise. I believe, its through her pen, she tapped into a greater purpose that gave her life meaning and worth, than anything she could readily achieve in her everyday life. She suffered greatly by her own experiences, as I read she and her sisters [Anne and Emily] were afflicted by anxiety disorders, but with her pen, she cast aside all of this, in order to cast into the world a tome of her intellect and wisdom.
As it would happen – when it comes to reading the *original canons!* of literature, despite being a newly renewed member of the #theclassicsclub – in the past, whilst I was still a slightly defunct member of the club, I fared better focusing on *after canons!* or sequels, re-tellings or ANY story inspired-by a work of Classical Lit rather than say “reading the original”? Quirky, yes? Cheeky, even? Check. This remained true of Eyre – I found myself happily consumed by the character & the world stitched out of “Keeping Kate” whilst I was moved dearly by the poetic voicing within the verse structure within “Jane and the Bertha in Me”.
Noting a juxtaposition from an after canon to the original within “Keeping Kate”:
From the first moment Kate Evans walks across the page, I felt a tightening in my heart towards her, as her spirit of self-awareness and of place within the folds of her life were very true to course! Kate is the kind of character I am oft-times in search of uncovering; not merely in Classical Lit but within the Contemporary realms as well! She has a captivating way of giving you just enough of a pause of thought on what is happening to her as to ground you within her scope of the story itself. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives but she’s not despondent about it either! No! She’s as bold and direct about her circumstances fate has dealt her as Eyre with the moxie of her predecessor for digging deep into her faith and placing a firm foothold into a future that surely must lead to something not quite as darkening as her childhood!
Rather than being taken to a Gothic estate set far away from active society, Kate is led to a small mountain towne in Utah, where the community she felt she would uncover would be quite ordinary turnt into an extraordinary settled development where estates were more regular than cabins! Tucked away from most conveniences, her new dwelling was a far cry of being the center of modern life and had a more natural bent towards embracing the natural world of which surrounded the ranch where she was accepting employment.
Thornfield Hall is turnt into ‘Thorne Field Ranch’, where Adele becomes Addie, and Mrs. Fairfaxes name receives a change of ‘firsts’. The ambiance of the place remains intact, to where opulence and finery outweigh sensible style and pleasure. Rochester has surely met his match in Mr. Thorne! I never thought you could quite elicit out a duality of whom Rochester was in both origin and spirit, but Tyler Thorne has nailed him in such a justifiable way as to honour him through reincarnation!
The main difference of course, is that instead of a dark secret in the attic that causes the most angst in the climax of Jane Eyre, in Keeping Kate Tyler Thorne is betwixt knowing how to shift forward in life after his wife abandoned him, claimed infidelity, and straddled him with a child of whom she insisted was not his own. Yet dealing with the reality of this situation and the layers in which are knitted into the in-between moments where Kate and Tyler find themselves quite bemuseful of each other’s company, therein lies the best choices Farnsworth gave the novel!
She doesn’t allow this to be a ‘quick fix’ nor does she make the situation feel ‘contrite or predictable’. She took the harder road — to show realistic choices, raw human emotion, and levelled it with honesty about the depth of the human heart. The pace of the story is the most beautiful aspect of Keeping Kate because it allows you to let the tides of the narrative wash over you, lull you into the shoes of the main characters, and take a reprieve from your own affairs.
Whilst I peered into the darker corners of ‘Bertha’ through poetic verse:
| Vintage Bertha Triptych : The Gothic Grotesque |
Segmented into three equally telling installments of Bertha’s psychological state, Martinez taps inside Bertha as she had lived and how her actions were precipitated by her awareness of how despairingly dire her need to free herself from her imprisoned state (as she saw it). For her, the only solution was to transcend the physical world and opt-out of this existence that was taking out her will to survive – she was shut-off from everything and everyone, completely isolated and left undone. Bertha could no longer conceptionalise reality much less equate out a living she could conceive that would stand her back on solid ground. Her choices were set in motion by the loss of her life long before she died – she was an empty husk of a woman who was no longer the girl of her younger years.
In this poem, her desolation is perceptively acute and her state of unwellness is keenly portrayed by a woman whose unravelled her mind to where nothing else matters but the release of the pain which has become her living hours. It’s a sobering snippet of a woman’s life whose lost the battle to gain wellness in the face of an obstacle she could not surmount. I felt Martinez expertly gave Bertha a voice in this poem, and granted a bit of new insight into her state of mental health at the time of the fire itself.
All of this was preparing me in many regards to seeking out “The Other Wife” and uniquely towards a passage back into “Jane Eyre” itself. On Friday, the day and night before #SatBookChat, I re-entered the realm of JANE EYRE through the audiobook adaptation by Naxos Audiobooks with the narrator Amanda Root. It was through this listening period I started to shift into the darker corners of Rochester’s life with Bertha as previously I hadn’t reached the point in the novel where her presence was more pronounced, explored & brought to the foreground of Jane’s own journey at Thornfield Hall.
I knew JANE EYRE was a darker tale – somewhere in the back of my mind, however, the film adaptation painted the portrait of this being a darkly lit romantic tale with unknown suspenseful elements that worked well with the Gothic undertones. If anything, for me, having come through the film adaptation first – it felt more like a Dark Romantic Suspense rather than what it truer is shaping up towards being which is a keenly insightful & dark work of Women’s Fiction. The difference was only seen as I started to shift forward past what is known (to me) and what was yet unknown – where the layers are being peeled back a bit further – to where Rochester is being seen slightly differently than I remembered him in the film – where you took pity on his character for his plight and how it seemed to be unravelling into a grimly dark romance with a spark of hope at the end of the dark tunnel.
I also knew THE OTHER WIFE would be equally as dark – as not just owning to the canon, as this is a tale “inspired by” rather than strict re-telling, sequel or re-imagining of the original – I wanted to explore the components of what made this Contemporary tale uniquely different before broaching into a book discussion with its co-authors: Ms Alison May & Ms Janet Gover.
I wanted to develop a unique interview with them as the writing team of “Juliet Bell” as a precursor to the discussion which would arise through #SatBookChat – thus giving everyone who wanted to attend the chat a solid idea about what THE OTHER WIFE involves and what kinds of inter-related topics could be broached during the chat itself. I decided to keep their responses intact as they gave them to me – as I wanted this to be a bit of a round robin interview – where I would pitch the same questions to each of the authors & they in turn would respond. You’ll find this is one of the more interesting conversations I’ve shared – as it has a duel perspective attached to it whilst it gives you a keen insight into collaborative writing styles & the inspirations to telling the stories which motivate our writerly hearts to write.
You’ll also note I left this informal rather than formal – as I never actually have an interview where I don’t mention an author’s last name in the response lines – however, this was organically knitted out by the authors themselves and I liked how it flowed through the conversation. I decided to keep it authentically honest as it developed & share the conversation as it moved into the harder hitting aspects of JANE EYRE whilst it also talks about what separates THE OTHER WIFE from the canon.
Kindly brew your favourite cuppa & grab something to eat as you settle into the convo!
Be sure to follow our chat’s tag #SatBookChat | use it to contribute to the discussion
Starting @ 11a NYC | 4p UK – follow @SatBookChat for updates!
On my connection to the authors:
From approx. January 2014 – June 2018, I was a reviewer for ChocLitUK whilst I hosted a bookish chat featuring ChocLit novels & their authors entitled #ChocLitSaturday (@ChocLitSaturday). The chat was renamed @SatBookChat in January, 2018. During this period of time, my path crossed with a lot of authors publishing with ChocLit and I had the grace of being able to read nearly all of the Coorah Creek novels during that experience, however, I did not have the chance to read “Little Girl Lost” which is the latest Coorah Creek novel outside of the Christmas novella (a Digital First release) which correlates with the series itself. Coorah Creek was the series penned by Ms Gover whereas in regards to the works by Ms May – I was able to feature a spotlight on her Christmas novellas which were re-released into an anthology in print – an edition I had sought to read and review but didn’t get the proper chance to do so. I also was keenly intrigued by her after canons for Shakespeare as I love the Bard & the original stories he gave us to enjoy. These stories are part of my TBR of ChocLit novels, novellas & pocket stories which I look forward to one day being able to read properly (either in print or audiobook).
I am disclosing this connection to you as I have maintained an active connection of communication with the authors I’ve read through ChocLit whilst being a conversationalist on Twitter – either for the chat I hosted and/or outside of it. Even if I have a connection to an author, I am still able to feature their current stories, their backlist titles or any other projects their developing hereafter as I approach each story separately from the ones I’ve read or experienced in the past. I go into each new story with an open mind and thus can give my honest impressions on its behalf.
The Other Wife
Subtitle: Beautiful places hide terrible secrets
by Juliet Bell
Outback Australia, 1981
After a terrible childhood, Jane comes to Thornfield as nanny to the adorable Adele, watched over by the handsome and enigmatic Edward. Plain and inexperienced, Jane would never dream of being more than his hired help. But swept up in the dramatic beauty of the Outback, she finds herself drawn to Edward. And, to her surprise, he seems to return her feelings.
But Jane is not the first woman Edward has pledged to make mistress of Thornfield.
As a child, Betty was taken from her English home and sent for adoption in Australia. At first, no-one wanted her, deeming her hair too curly, and her skin too dark. Until the scheming Mr Mason sees a chance to use Betty to cement a relationship with the rich and powerful Rochester dynasty…
When Jane discovers Betty’s fate, will she still want to be the next Mrs Rochester?
Places to find the book:
Published by HQ Digital
on 24th January, 2019
Formats Available: Ebook *and!* Trade paperback → Happy #PubDay!
Converse via: #JaneEyre + #TheOtherWife; #WomensFiction
#Classics Retold OR Stories Inspired by #ClassicLit; #CharlotteBronte or #Bronte200 & #Brontes
As you have re-imagined two Classical stories thus far along “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre” – how do you select the stories you’re going to re-tell and re-imagine? Is there a process to it or is it a bit more serendipitous? What pulled you in the direction of co-writing these kinds of stories as well?
Janet says : Wuthering Heights was my choice. It has always fascinated me. It’s a dark and violent book – not a romance at all, despite what some people would say. I always wanted to explore the how passions and emotions of the characters would evolve in a different, but equally tumultuous time.
Alison says : Wuthering Heights was the easier choice of the two – Janet suggested it and I felt very connected to the setting and the time period we chose for our adaptation. Jane Eyre was trickier. In some ways it’s the obvious follow on from Wuthering Heights, but it’s a subtler, less in your face, book in a lot of ways. What drew me to it though was still that question of ‘is this a romance?’ And if not, what makes people think that it is? Read More