Saturday, 14 January 2017

All things Jane Eyre

I recently decided - for no other reason than because I felt like it - to read all things pertaining to Charlotte Bronte's masterpiece Jane Eyre, including both fiction and non-fiction. However, that was before I realised quite how many books there were out there that had something to do with Jane Eyre (94 according to this Goodreads list). As I have neither the money nor the time to read all of these books, I have decided instead read one book from each of the following categories: prequel, actual, retelling, sequel, and spin-off. 

Prequel - Wide Sargasso Sea by Rhys
There can no other prequel to read than Rhys' well-known novella, which documents how Antoinette Cosway - aka the first Mrs Rochester - ended up being called Bertha and locked up in an attic.

Actual - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Well, obviously, there'd be no point to this project if I didn't use it as an excuse re-read my all-time-favourite book would there?

Retelling - Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
I have always thought the accusation that Rebecca was a reworking of Jane Eyre a little unfair to Du Maurier. Certainly there are parallels with Bronte's work, but it's a magnificent book in its own right. The only reason I am choosing to re-read it for my "retelling" book is because it's the most famous retelling and the other ones on Goodreads looked pretty ropey (one has five one-star reviews; not a good sign).

Sequel - Reader I Married edited by Tracy Chevalier
Technically this is a collection of short stories that are inspired by Jane Eyre rather than a straightforward sequel, but it does have some that purport to be sequels. Plus, I already own it and as I've already bought three books specifically for this project, I need to rein things in a little.

Spin-off - The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
This comic crime novel about a "literary detective" called Thursday Next who has to enter the novel Jane Eyre stop a crime seems completely bonkers and, thus, a must read.

My goal after reading (or in some cases, re-reading) these books is to look at how the character of Jane in these books differs. However as Jane is only briefly referenced in Wild Sargasso Sea, I will look at  how Rochester in this book (though never actually named as such) compares with Bronte's version. 

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